New cars sold in the EU to be fitted with speed limiters from 2022

8 April 2019

Speeding could soon be a thing of the past if new EU road safety recommendations are made into law. We bring you up to date on everything you need to know about intelligent speed assistance (ISA) in this question and answer article.

Q - What’s happening and when?
A - Speed limiters are being recommended for all new cars by 2024

European legislators are pushing for the introduction of speed-limiting technology in a bid to curb the number of road fatalities across the continent. The new rules will mean cars being sold in the EU must be fitted with speed limiters.

If agreed, the legislation is due to come into effect from May 2022 for models that have not yet been approved and by May 2024 for new cars that are currently for sale.

Q - What’s the thinking behind these changes?
A - Slower speeds save lives

According to the EU council’s estimations, speed limiters will cut traffic collisions by 30%. This could equate to saving as many as 25,000 lives in the first 15 years of the new technology’s introduction.

Q - Will these changes impact the UK once we leave the EU?
A - Yes - the Department for Transport is in favour of the changes

The new safety measures are expected to be formally approved by the European Parliament and EU member states in September 2019. However, Brexit is unlikely to protect UK motorists from the speed limiters.

That's because car manufacturers are unlikely to make separate models for the UK market. And the UK's designated Approval Authority and Technical Service - the Vehicle Certification Agency - has said it plans to mirror EU rules post-Brexit whatever the outcome. Their reason? To reduce the costs of new vehicles to the market.

Q - What is ISA and how does it work?
A - Cameras and data combine to reduce engine power

ISA technology combines information from traffic-sign-recognition cameras and GPS data to establish the speed limit of the road the vehicle is being driven on. The system automatically restricts the engine’s power and the car’s top speed.

Drivers should be able to override the system in instances when they need an extra boost of power. For example, when joining the motorway or overtaking a slower driver who decides to put their foot down.

However, if the driver continues above the speed limit for a few seconds, the system will sound an alert and/or display a visual warning until the speed is dropped to meet the limit.

It’s possible that cars will be fitted with an on/off switch for the ISA system although it’s expected that the system will automatically kick in when the vehicle is started.

Q - Are there any downsides?
A - Some motor commentators have concerns

President of the AA, Edmund King, supports the introduction of the new safety measures stating that: “There’s no doubt that new in-car technology can save lives and there’s a good case for autonomous emergency braking to be fitted in all cars.”
However, when it comes to ISA, King believes the case is less clear saying: “The best speed limiter is the driver's right foot and the driver should use it to do the right speed in the right situation. The right speed is often below the speed limit, for example, outside a school with children around, but with ISA there may be a temptation to go at the top speed allowed which may not be appropriate.”

Q - Is there anything else I need to know?
A - Yes, ISA is the tip of the iceberg …

Although ISA tech is the story leading the headlines, the regulations will also make other safety technology mandatory in new cars. Features will include:

  • Reversing cameras or parking sensors
  • Advanced Emergency Braking
  • Event data recorders
  • Drowsiness and distraction monitors
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Improved seatbelts
  • Safety glass to protect cyclists and pedestrians
  • Improved direct vision for trucks

ISA will certainly cause significant changes in car manufacturing and driving styles. And hopefully it will reduce the number of road deaths too. In our view, any technology that saves lives is a step in the right direction.

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