Speed limiters to be made compulsory

A number of advanced safety features will have to be fitted to all new cars sold from May 2022, including limiters which keep you to the speed limit...

EU speed limiters

Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) will be fitted to every new car sold in the UK from 2022, along with other safety features such as monitors that detect when a driver has become drowsy or distracted.

The plans have been approved by the European commission and will apply to the UK regardless of the outcome of the current Brexit discussions, because the UK Government has committed itself to mirroring EU car safety standards.

ISA doesn't apply the brakes, but limits the engine power and acceleration to prevent the vehicle from surpassing the set speed limit. It ensures that the speed of the vehicle is automatically adjusted by using a “speed sign-recognition camera and/or GPS-linked speed limit data,” according to the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).

The technology has been strongly supported by safety campaigners and the ETSC, which says it has the potential to reduce collisions by 30% and save around 25,000 lives within 15 years. However, there will be a manual override option so that the driver can remain in control of the vehicle's speed if necessary.

If it's switched off, the system will continue to display a visual speed limit warning and will sound an audible alert for a short time if the car exceeds the posted limit. But even when it's on, the driver retains ultimate responsibility for the car so will be liable for any speeding offences.

The technology is due to be mandatory from May 2022 for models that haven’t been designed yet and from May 2024 for models currently on the market, although the changes are still subject to the formal approval of the European Parliament and EU member states in September.

An alcohol interlock system to prevent drunk driving will also become a requirement, as will distraction monitors which use cameras inside the car to detect when the driver is impaired or tired. The monitors will give the same warnings as the ISA system if the driver is seen to be not paying attention or if the car strays from its lane.

Other safety features that will be made compulsory are advanced automatic emergency braking systems, an emergency stop signal, a rear-view camera or parking sensors and an accident data recorder.

Matthew Avery, director of Thatcham Research, said the new legislation is “great news for road safety, because about 15% of fatalities involve speeding.” However, he pointed out that Thatcham tests show that the speed-limit recognition technology is currently only 85% effective, with this primarily down to poor road signing.

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