Speed-limiters to fight careless driving

2 September 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
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European Commission wants to introduce speed-limiting technology to reduce the number of traffic accidents

European Commission wants to introduce speed-limiting technology to reduce the number of traffic accidents

All cars in Europe might have to be fitted with systems forcing drivers to keep within speed-limits.

The European Commission (EC) is considering new safety regulations that would require both new and already existing cars to be equipped with technology that combines GPS-based satellite data with those from road cameras.

If the driver exceeds the speed limit of an area, the system would automatically brake and slow down to the limit, making driving faster than 70mph in the UK virtually impossible.

The move is designed to cut down the number of road collisions in the European Union (EU) by 2020. The EC plans to establish a new regulatory body – the Intelligent Speed Authority – to oversee the project.

The technology is expected to be first tested on heavy goods vehicles (HGV) and buses.

'It is part of the Commission's job – because it has been mandated to do so by member states, including the UK – to look at, promote research into, and consult stakeholders about new road-safety technology which might ultimately save lives," said the EC’s spokesman. “This is done in close co-operation with member states.”

More than 30,000 people die on the road in EU countries every year and one and a half million are injured, with 120,000 left permanently disabled – something the envisioned system will aim to change.

However, UK politicians seem to oppose the proposal. "To be forced to have automatic controls in your car amounts to Big Brother nannying by EU bureaucrats," said a UK government source familiar with the stance of Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary. "It is definitely something that he is keen to resist and he has told officials that it is something we don't want to do,” the source added.

The UK Automobile Association (AA) said that even though introducing clear speed alerts would be a welcomed new feature, limiting speed automatically could lead to dangerous situations.

"It could take away people's ability to get themselves out of trouble with a quick burst of speed, such as in overtaking situations where the capacity to accelerate can avoid a head-on collision," said AA’s spokesman.

A document of EC’s technical experts regarding the proposed system is expected to be published in the autumn.

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