European Members of Parliament Approve "Intelligent Speed Assistance" for Cars

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Public Domain. European Transport Safety Council

It is in all Fords sold in Europe, but it isn't mandatory – yet.

TreeHugger has covered the development of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), the polite name for smart speed limiters that don't let drivers exceed the speed limit. The industry has been fighting it tooth and nail, because what kind of fun is driving a car at 40 Km/hr (25MPH) on a mountain road?

I wrote earlier:

It is easy to see why the industry is so threatened by ISA. Imagine being forced to go 25 MPH on an empty road engineered for people going twice as fast, in vehicles engineered to go four times as fast. People wouldn't buy big muscle cars because they would never get to open them up. People would get incredibly frustrated.

Cars will also have data recorders that log information “such as the car's speed or the state of activation of the car's safety systems before, during and after a collision.” The data will be used to “conduct accident data analysis and assess the effectiveness of specific measures taken.”

how it works

European Transport Safety Council/Public Domain

It was originally proposed that the ISA could not be switched off or suppressed, but drivers could accelerate through the limiter for passing. As passed by the committee of Parliament, the ISA will be overridable, and "they requested an additional two years for Intelligent Speed Assistance systems to be made mandatory."

Driver fatigue detection, reversing sensors, rear lights that flash during emergency braking, enlarged pedestrian impact zones are also required by the proposals. Cars will also have to be fitted with pre-wiring for alcohol interlocks, allowing the easy installation of such devices in the cars of drunk drivers.

Drivers are incensed, with a thousand comments like:

Anyone who believes that "the proposals say the data collected should only be used to conduct accident data analysis and assess the effectiveness of specific measures taken” needs to wake up. Expect insurance companies to use it to duck out of paying on policies if you are above the speed limit, the police using it to retrospectively ban drivers who habitually go too fast. This is a huge increasing in the state surveillance of its population and should be blocked at every opportunity. Wrapping it up as a 'safety initiative' is pure political spin.

British drivers are saying, "That's another reason why I voted to leave the EU."

At some point, this is all going boil over; we have a serious mismatch between the design of our roads, which encourages people to drive fast, the design of our cars which let people drive fast, and this little device that limits the speed of your car to one that will frustrate every driver. And if you do anything about it, your car will record it and it will come back and bite you.

Dodge Demon

Dodge Demon at Canadian Auto Show/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

But think of the lives and the fuel it will save, and all the money people will save by not buying that big Dodge Demon that is now completely useless.

Dodge Ram truick

Ram pickup truck/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Oh, and the EU is also increasing the requirements for pedestrian impact protection, including "enlarged head impact protection zones capable of mitigating injuries in collisions with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists." These will apply to trucks and vans too. If these rules spread (like the ones that cars have, because that market is international), then the front ends of light trucks, SUVs, and pickups will look very different than they do now.