Despite Brexit, a new EU Road safety measure is most likely to be adopted on UK roads. The measure will see the Intelligent Speed Assistance system put into all new EU made cars by 2022. There is a variety of systems available from GPS to sign recognition, but all alert the driver to the legal speed limit and others may even limit a drivers speed automatically.
It’s already coming into use. Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot-Citroen, Renault and Volvo already have models available with some of the intelligent speed assistance (ISA) technology fitted.
What are people saying?
The move has been welcomed by campaigners, as it is said to save lives. However, there is a slight concern about whether existing technology is advanced enough for the system to work effectively. For example, many cars have a forward-facing camera, but it is debated whether sign-recognition technology is up to scratch.
Drivers will still have the authority to override the device, which has reassured some sceptical motoring groups that have argued in certain situations – for instance when overtaking a vehicle in front – speeding up is essentially the safer option. Brake, a road safety charity said it is a “landmark day” for road safety. However, the popular British car breakdown company, AA has critiqued the move by saying “a little speed” helps drivers with overtaking and joining motorways. The AA also believes the system could unintentionally influence drivers to rely on the technology too much, the consequence being that it will make drivers more careless.
Edmund King, president of the AA said: “there was no doubt that new in-car technology could save lives”, adding there was “a good case” for autonomous emergency braking to be fitted in all cars. – “When it comes to intelligent speed adaptation, the case is not so clear,” he said. “The best speed limiter is the driver’s right foot.”
“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.” Mr King added: “Dodgem cars are all fitted with speed limiters, but they still seem to crash.” The executive director of the European Transport Safety Council, Antonio Avenoso, says: “There have only been a handful of moments in the last 50 years which could be described as big leaps forward for road safety in Europe. The mandatory introduction of the seatbelt was one, and the first EU minimum crash safety standards, agreed in 1998, was another”
What impact could it have?
EU road analysists say the plan may help avoid 140,000 serious injuries by 2038 and aims to cut road deaths to zero by 2050, UK statistics show more than 1,700 people are killed on UK roads every year, while Brake says speed is a contributory factor in about a quarter of all fatal crashes.
European Commission approved the safety measures using the intelligent speed assistance (ISA), but it could be several months before the European Parliament and Council formally approve the measures.
The European Parliament will not be able to consider the provisional rules until after its elections take place in May. Additional procedures approved by the EU include mandatory data recorders to help investigate vehicle crashes and assist research into increased safety, lane departure warning system will become obligatory. Extra safety features for European cars, vans, trucks and buses include technology which provides a warning of driver drowsiness and distraction, such as when using a smartphone while driving and a data recorder in case of an accident.
Will all of these automatic enhancements pave the way for a more gradual way to driverless cars in the future? Only time will tell.