Motorists are being warned of a major new European law that comes into effect today to help crackdown on speeding.
From 6 July, European Union rules mean all new cars, vans and lorries will be legally required to be fitted with a speed limiter to keep drivers within the speed limit.
How do the devices work?
The devices identify the speed limit of a road via GPS data and cameras.
Drivers are alerted when their vehicle exceeds the maximum permitted speed such as through audible or vibrating warnings, or by the accelerator pedal gently pushing their foot back. In some versions, the vehicle’s speed is automatically reduced.
However, drivers can ignore the warnings and override speed reductions.
Other measures include driver drowsiness warnings, emergency stop signals, accurate tyre pressure monitoring and event data recorders.
Jonathan White of the National Accident Helpline said: “The new speed limiters, which are expected to be introduced on cars that are sold from July 6 2022, will hopefully see new drivers sticking to the recommended speed limits.
“The technology is designed to warn drivers when they are approaching the speed limit.
“If the driver doesn’t slow down, the speed limiter reduces the engine’s power and the vehicle’s speed.”
Will speed limiters be used in the UK?
The requirement for newly launched models to have Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) technology is part of a package of measures aimed at boosting road safety in the bloc, but are currently not being implemented in the UK.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it is assessing the technologies within the EU’s General Safety Regulation (GSR) but no decision has been made on whether any of them will be mandated in Britain.
It added that the government is committed to using innovative technology to improve road safety.
UK-based manufacturers making cars to be exported into the EU will need to include the GSR measures such as speed limiters.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes urged the government to be “very careful about cherry-picking certain aspects and dropping others” as they all “have the potential to significantly improve safety on the UK’s roads”.
There has been no significant fall in the annual number of UK road deaths since 2010, apart from in 2020 when coronavirus lockdowns led to a huge reduction in traffic.
DfT figures show a driver or rider breaking the speed limit contributes to around one in six fatalities on Britain’s roads.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said some manufacturers are already offering these technologies ahead of regulations.
He said: “The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but action to improve our record still further should be welcomed.
“With the heavily integrated nature of the UK and European automotive sectors, regulatory divergence is not advantageous for either party.”
Road traffic lawyer Nick Freeman predicted that speed limiters will be introduced in the UK over the next two years, but described them as “incredibly dangerous” and “a needless distraction”, as there are “always circumstances where you need to briefly accelerate”.
He said: “To have a device which will automatically prevent the driver from being able to escape from danger – as well as the freedom to make decisions – is ridiculous.
“People should be allowed to drive. I’m not against safety devices but am against losing overall control.”
Dan Powell, senior editor at used car website CarSite, added: “While some people will be understandably nervous about the mandatory introduction of ISA, it’s important to note that it can be manually overridden.
“Some cars feature this tech already and feedback from owners is generally positive.”