A legal expert who specialises in driving law has said that any new speed limiting technology must be supported by other initiatives to reduce speeding, following the introduction of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) technology in the EU.
The new EU regulations have been brought in to boost road safety by keeping cars within the speed limits. From July 6 2022 onwards, it is mandatory for all new cars, vans, lorries and buses brought onto EU markets to be fitted with speed limiters. It remains to be seen whether these will be adopted by UK government.
“Any developments which proactively promote road safety should be welcomed,” says Manjinder Singh Kang, director and solicitor at Kang & Co Solicitors and member of Birmingham Law Society. “Reducing speeding has benefits beyond the safety aspect too. From a climate perspective, driving smarter and slower reduces emissions. However, I fear that ISA systems do not go far enough in stopping speed merchants and catching careless drivers.”
The new devices use GPS data and cameras to identify the speed limit of a road and notify drivers of a breach via a number of methods, including acoustic/vibration warnings and haptic feedback. Under the EU regulations, ISA will be active by default, however, drivers can turn the systems off at the start of each journey. The system can also be overridden during a journey if the driver pushes the accelerator with enough force.
“ISA systems are certainly a step in the right direction and, from a safety perspective, it is important that drivers have full autonomy over their vehicle and are able to override the limiter. However, drivers of the new cars will not be automatically reined back and are still responsible for adhering to the speed limits. Moreover, they could choose to simply deactivate the technology at the beginning of a journey meaning they will not be alerted,” explains Manjinder.
ISA technology will record all speed data. In the event of a road collision, the police will be able to have insight into driving behaviours prior to the incident.
“It’s already possible to calculate drivers’ speed through a collision reconstruction report. This is based on factors such as vehicle damage and road markings, with certain cases using video footage. In fatal road traffic incidents speed can be calculated from throw calculations,” explains Manjinder. “So arguably there is no added value from ISA. Plus, almost every person will breach the speed limit at one point in their journey. If legal action is required for every instance, then the justice system will be crippled. Clarity or criteria over which cases will be dealt with, and how, is required.”
The ISA technology is also only mandatory for all new models launched after July 6 2022. Cars already launched and in showrooms will have until July 2024 to be fitted with an ISA.
“As the new legislation won’t affect current cars on the road, questions will be raised as to whether people will be deterred from buying a new car,” Manjinder adds. “It would not be unreasonable for consumers to delay such an investment if they do not fully understand the technology and how it works. That’s why I strongly believe that public education is an essential next step. More can be done to educate drivers on the dangers of speeding but also to create awareness of the new technology and how it works.”
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