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11 Sep 2020
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

Speed limiters to be fitted on all new cars by 2022



man driving a car

Despite leaving the EU, the UK will still have to comply with speed limiting systems on new cars.

The top speed you can legally drive on UK roads is 70 mph. So why can cars reach speeds up to 100 mph?

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) have investigated this. They say that 26,000 road deaths happen in Europe every year. And speed is one of main reasons for these deaths.

Because of this research a new system - known as the Intelligent Speed Assistance system (ISA) – has been developed. 

The ISA alerts the driver if they’re going over the speed limit, and if the driver doesn’t slow down the car will intervene.

This will be mandatory for all new cars from 2022 despite the UK leaving the EU.

The system has been met with mixed reviews. Here’s what you need to know.

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What is the Intelligent Speed Assistance system? 

The ISA uses either a video or GPS linked system to detect speed signs and alert drivers of the speed limit.

If the driver doesn’t reduce their speed, then the car reduces it for them. 

The system doesn’t affect the car’s braking system though. After a series of alerts, if the driver doesn’t apply the brakes, the vehicle reduces power to the engine.

The car will then naturally slow down to the new speed limit.

Automatic detection of pedestrians and cyclists was also approved alongside the ISA. 

READ MORE: Government introduces automated system to keep your car in lane


What are the benefits of the ISA? 

Besides the life-saving potential of the technology, it’s thought that insurance premiums could be lower. Fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions might also improve as a result. 

Could the ISA spell an end to speeding tickets too? It’s certainly possible, and a feature that Ford has capitalised on when promoting the ISA in their vehicles.

The new automatic detection software detects walkers, cyclists and vulnerable road users.

With the new software in place, people may feel safer and be more likely to walk or cycle.

This is according to a study by the European commission.


Is there a way to override the system?

In certain circumstances, yes. An example of this would be if you’re overtaking on a road where there’s a decrease in speed limit. 

After alerting you, the car will automatically start to slow down. By pushing down hard on the accelerator, you can override the system and complete the manoeuvre safely.

If you stay above the speed limit the system will sound a warning and display a visual alert. The alerts will remain on until the driver is within the speed limit. 

The system has an on/off switch too. The default setting for the system is on, but it can be switched off.  

If you turn it off, the system will remain off until you restart the vehicle.

READ MOREMotorway driving: How to stay safe 


Which cars have ISA installed already?

Many Ford models already use the ISA system, as do Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot/Citroen and Renault. 

Volvo has welcomed speed limiters too – and were the first manufacturer to roll out the system across all their models. The company will cap all new cars at 112 mph.

Volvo is also developing ‘smart speed controls’ that will detect when a car is driving close to a vulnerable site, such as a school or hospital. 

They’re also hoping to develop the technology to improve driver behaviour.

Hakan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo, says:

“We want to start a conversation about whether car makers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver´s behaviour, to tackle things like speeding, intoxication or distraction. 

We don’t have a firm answer to this question, but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a pioneer.”


Will the UK adopt speed limiters even though we've left the EU?

The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) will continue with EU regulations even though we’re no longer part of the EU. 

So, the speed limiting rules will apply to the UK too.

it’s also unlikely that EU-based vehicle manufacturers will make models with different specifications just to please the UK market.  


How do drivers feel about the ISA?

One question is why Volvo is limiting the speed to 112 mph, instead of the national speed limit for UK roads.

The answer is that Volvo sells vehicles to countries with higher speed limits than the UK. For example, Germany where the top speed limit is 80 mph.

On a broader scale, the system has been tested in 11 EU member states and has received mostly positive reviews.

Many drivers said it took them a short time to adjust to the technology but appreciated the ISA.

But could the system create an over-reliance on technology?

Edmund King, President of the AA said the best form of speed limiting is “the driver’s right foot”. 

He says:

"The right speed is often below the speed limit - for example, outside a school with children about - but with ISA, there may be a temptation to go at the top speed allowed."

King added: "Dodgem cars are all fitted with speed limiters, but they still seem to crash."

The ETSC claims that this system could reduce road collisions by 30% and deaths by 20%, which is an overwhelming positive for motorists.

Not only this, but fewer collisions mean fewer claims. And fewer claims could mean that insurance premiums go down. 


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