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The UK and EU Will Require All New Cars to Include Devices That Prevent You From Speeding

Illustration for article titled The UK and EU Will Require All New Cars to Include Devices That Prevent You From Speedingem/em
Photo: Matt Dunham (AP)

The European Union is likely to enact new regulations that will require all new cars sold in Europe and the United Kingdom after May 2022 to come with technology that will force cars to slow down or brake when exceeding the speed limit. The move is expected to save thousands of lives each year but critics fear that it could have unintended cons

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Additionally, cars would have to have built-in breathalyzers, distraction recognition systems that warn drivers if they seem like they’re getting drowsy or not focused on driving, and data recorders that document what happens during an accident.

BBC and The Guardian report the new rules, known as General Safety Regulation, were provisionally agreed upon by the EU, and that the Department for Transport said the UK would be subject to the rules regardless of Brexit.

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The new rules still need European parliament ratification, which will likely happen by September.

As Fortune points out, some luxury vehicles from Honda, Ford, and other manufacturers already have intelligence speed assistance (ISA) technology. The technology detects the speed limit in an area through sign-recognition cameras and GPS. If the system finds the car is traveling above that limit it alerts the driver and slows the vehicle down.

When ISA kicks in, drivers can override the brakes by accelerating.

“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,” said Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the European Transport Safety Council, in a statement. “The mandatory introduction of the seatbelt was one, and the first EU minimum crash safety standards, agreed in 1998, was another.”

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“If last night’s agreement is given the formal green light, it will represent another of those moments, preventing 25,000 deaths within 15 years of coming into force,” Avenoso said, referencing the provisional EU deal.

According to BBC, Automobile Association president Edmund King said he has no doubt the new regulation would save lives but warned of unexpected consequences to enforced ISA. “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 told the BBC.

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It’s not surprising that an automobile enthusiast would be skeptical of this development but he’s not wrong that this technology is still new and it could have some growing pains. “The best speed limiter is the driver’s right foot,” King said.

[The Guardian, BBC]

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Former senior reporter at Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

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NovemberAjax

TL:DR - speeding does not cause accidents. The UK and EU are guilty of amplifying this myth to the n’th degree. The UK is especially guilty of ignoring their own transport research lab’s studies on this matter.

Speed is not the primary cause of most accidents. At best it’s an amplifier when used inappropriately. Sure, speed can make accidents worse, but the instigation of the accident is normally not speed itself. This is a deeply unpopular point of view, and most people’s gut reaction will be “you’re a goddamn liar”. But the facts don’t lie. Use some critical thinking, do some investigative research, and learn for yourself.

The TRL in the UK have disproved the speeding myth over and over again with accident stat analysis over the course of dozens of years. In order, the primary cause of accidents in cars is (from report TRL323):

(1) Failing to judge the other person’s path or speed
(2) Carelessness / thoughtlessness / recklessness
(3) Inattention / distraction
(4) Looked but did not see
(5) Excessive speed

Split between an analysis of ‘all’ factors involved in accidents and ‘definite’ factors involved in accidents, speeding is to blame in only 6% of all road accidents.

“Oh but think about the pedestrians!” comes the cry. Ok - then go and look at the studies again. The primary cause of pedestrian casualty at 84% of all accidents is “pedestrian entered roadway without due care”. A further breakdown of that number reveals that in almost all cases, the person was too close to the vehicle for the driver to have been able to react.

The TRL even dedicated an entire study (TRL325) to the question “will reduced speed limits reduce accidents?”. They concluded that “speed variation” (as they chose to call it) were caused by dozens of different factors including demographics, visual ability, skill, length of trip etc. They concluded that there was no single factor that caused speeding, and further concluded that in all the accidents they studied, again, speed accounted for the accident as the primary cause in only 4% of cases.

There’s an old U.S study from 1997 which is relevant here, called the Parker Study (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/97084/97084.pdf) which looked to see if lower speed limits in the U.S. would have an effect on accident rate. They found a direct link between lower speed limits and higher accident rates. This is politically unacceptable but the Parker Report isn’t the only one that has found this. The TRL bore that out in another of their studies, this time relating to speed cameras. Report TRL595 concluded that in many cases, the plague of speed cameras caused too many drivers to spend too much time trying to find the cameras and less time actually performing the act of driving safely. They found a correlation between areas of high camera usage and an increase of accidents in those same areas. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, adding speed cameras caused more distraction, leading to more accidents. Remember TRL323 above? Distraction was the number 3 cause.......

In the U.S. the NHTSA are keen to point out that ‘speed kills’ and their own reports look like that is reinforced with actual figures. (for example https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812021). But read past the first page where they say that speed accounted for 31% of all accidents and you’ll see that there’s a kicker. In those 31% of accidents, nearly half the drivers were over the alcohol limit. In other words, impaired driving was the cause of the accident, not speed. When you remove alcohol from the equation, suddenly speeding only accounts for 15% of accidents in this report, and that’s nowhere near as politically acceptable because it just doesn’t back up the ‘speed kills’ mantra.

Allowing politicians to set unrealistic speed limits that don’t reflect the road conditions, that ignore engineering criteria and scientific advice, then raking in cash from speeding fines, is part of the whole sales pitch of “speed kills”. It’s backed up by the media and the police who will always blame speed first, and then (sometimes) the true cause later. Setting silly limits and enforcing them with cops does nothing more than make money. It doesn’t make roads any safer.

The UK is plagued with speed-averaging cameras, point-speed cameras and all sorts of other devices designed to punish drivers with points on their license and punitive fines, but guess what - the accident rate always goes UP where the speed cameras are installed. It’s been proven time and again on everything from the A34 to the M6 link road (where they installed “safety” cameras before it was even opened).