Vehicle speeding has been a constant problem across the world, and the situation is no different in European countries. In this regard, the European Commission – the European Union’s (EU) executive arm – has brought together a provisional political agreement which would see the countries under its jurisdiction introduce new technologies that would improve safety on the road.
In the list of the proposed safety features is intelligent speed-assistance technology (ISA) – a system that informs, warns and discourages the driver from exceeding the statutory local speed limit. ISA utilizes GPS, which based on a network of satellites continually transmitting radio signals, digitally maps the movement of the vehicle with high accuracy to within a few meters.
Armed with this data, the ISA can enforce speed limits, can alert drivers on hazardous driving conditions or regions where drivers need to exert greater caution – for instance, in school zones and high-density pedestrian movement areas. This proves to be essential when we take into account the number of accidents that could be avoided with timely intervention.
The EU mentions that excess speed contributes to around 30 percent of fatal crashes, with 40 to 60 percent of all drivers exceeding speed limits while on the road. Many studies suggest that reducing average speed by as little as 1 kilometer per hour (0.6 miles per hour) could lessen fatal crashes by 5 percent.
“Five hundred people die every week on EU roads, a figure that has refused to budge for several years. And driving too fast is still the number one killer. It’s very simple; if we want to bring down the number of road deaths, we have to tackle speed effectively. Right now, the EU has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a massive difference,” said Graziella Jost, projects director at the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
These set of safety features, if approved by the European Parliament and Council, would be introduced by 2022 on all new cars that are sold in the market. Nonetheless, there already are a few car variants that offer the technology – such as the Ford Focus – but since there is no mandatory need for using it, drivers often switch it off.
Once the mandate goes into effect, drivers would be required by law to keep ISA turned on. But then, though the speed limiters do warn the drivers on speeding, they cannot depress the brakes or cap the maximum speed a vehicle could travel. This allows drivers to override judgment, by merely pressing on the gas pedal. Then again, this does not mean that a driver should look to override ISA measures frequently – the provision is provided to ensure the safety of drivers at all times and to speed judiciously if absolutely necessary.
However, these actions do get recorded in an internal “black box,” and its contents would be examined by insurance agencies in case of an accident. If drivers are found to have flouted traffic regulations and have shown aggressive driving behavior, insurance companies could choose to reimburse for damages accordingly.
Drivers in the U.K. would not be exempt to these regulations either, even after Brexit. The U.K. government has stated that excessive and inappropriate speeding kills 1,200 in the country annually, and thus it looks to adopt all the safety measures that the EU brings across to ensure safety on its roads.
“This legislation represents a major step forward for road safety in Europe, and could save 25,000 lives within 15 years of coming into force. But it will only apply to new vehicles. So it’s incredibly important that a final deal is reached as soon as possible, so cars with these new safety features fitted as standard start driving off production lines sooner rather than later,” said Antonio Avenoso, the executive director of the ETSC.