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European Union wants to install speed limiters in all cars

Top U.K. transportation official calls the proposed measure a violation of British drivers’ freedom, plans to block it.

By Douglas Newcomb Sep 3, 2013 11:00AM

German autobahn end speed limit sign. Photo by Flikr user aperture_lag.As part of strict new safety regulations designed to decrease traffic accidents and fatalities, European Union officials want new cars to include technology that automatically prevents them from going over the speed limit.

According to British newspaper the Daily Mail, existing vehicles could also be equipped with the technology so that that no car "would be allowed to travel faster than 70 mph."

[UPDATE: The EU has denied the allegation after the Daily Mail report, saying "Reports in the press over the last day or two have suggested that the EU intends to bring forward 'formal proposals this autumn' to introduce automatic speed controls -known as 'Intelligent Speed Adaptation' or ISA, into cars. This is quite simply not true and the Commission had made this very clear to the journalists concerned prior to publication.]

Under the new measure, all new cars in the EU would use camera systems to “read” speed limits displayed on road signs and automatically apply the brakes to slow the car if it exceeds posted speeds. BMW and Mercedes vehicles already have traffic-sign recognition, although it’s used to warn drivers, not automatically slow them down.

Britain’s top transportation official, reacting the same as most drivers, said that the proposed measure smacks of Big Brother meddling and that he plans to block it. According to the Daily Mail, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin “erupted” when he learned of the proposed regulation.

The European Commission Mobility and Transport Department’s Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) system is part of a road safety program that hopes to reduce the death toll from traffic accidents in the EU by a third by 2020. Of the more than 30,000 people who die on European roads, experts estimate that 6,000 of those deaths could be prevented if drivers followed speed limits. A commission spokesman noted that the technology is already used on trucks and buses in the EU.

The ISA technology works either by using cameras to read road signs or satellites to communicate speed limits to cars. If a driver is detected going over the speed limit, the system can employ three separate controls to slow the car. First, an “advice” mode notifies drivers that they’ve exceeded the speed limit by sounding a warning. Second, a “driver select” option slows the car but also gives the driver the option to override the system. Third, a “mandatory" mode doesn’t let a driver go over the speed limit under any circumstances.  

McLoughlin noted that his country has one of the best road-safety records in Europe and that U.K. road deaths declined from 1,901 in 2011 to 1,754 in 2012 – "the lowest figure since records began in 1926," according to the Daily Mail. France and Germany both recorded more than twice as many deaths last year.

The Daily Mail reported that McLoughlin has been asked by the European Commission for his views before the formal proposals are published this fall, and EC officials also noted that more new vehicles are coming equipped with camera and satellite technology, making it “cheap and easy” to add the speed-control system.

The newspaper reported that a government source said McLouglin has asked officials to block the regulations because they are a violation of British drivers’ freedom. The source added, “This has Big Brother written all over it and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people’s backs up about [the EU]. We are about getting a better deal for Britain, not letting EU bureaucrats encroach further into people’s lives."

A spokesman for the U.K.’s Automobile Association told the Daily Mail that although the technology is designed to prevent accidents, it could create its own hazards. “If you were overtaking a tractor and suddenly needed to accelerate to avoid a head-on collision, you would not be able to,” the spokesman said, adding that he said he would support a system that uses audible speed alerts.

With super-fast supercars available in Germany and Italy, where there are no speed limits on parts of the autobahn and autostrada, it’s difficult to fathom that the regulation will not come under more criticism in other parts of the EU. Even in the U.S., most new cars can go from zero to 60 in just a few seconds and cruise easily at 75 mph, if not much higher.

[Source: The Daily Mail]
Sep 4, 2013 11:55AM
Let's fix a bigger problem first. I propose politicians wear lie detectors that shocks them every time they lie.
Sep 12, 2013 12:16AM
Bad idea. I am a professional driver, and you need the emergency horsepower to get out of situations if they develop. I have avoided accidents by 'punching it' and getting out of the way of another vehicle. A limiter would take that away.  I bet it would cause accidents to go up, not down.
Sep 3, 2013 11:44AM
This is horrible. No to big brother, no to politicians attempting to gain totalitarian control.

I would propose a new law, where anybody who attempts to pass any laws restricting freedoms would be tried and would get a minimal statutory penalty of public service and immediately be fired from their post per default.

Whosoever attempts to restrict, limit or institute any form of totalitarian regime should be immediately tried in court and face severe punishment for trying to restrict others, so that they would learn to never even so much as think about doing so ever again.

It starts with "innocent" measures such as "child protection" and "speed limits"; where does it end, and who decides what is reasonable, what is not, and on which grounds?

I do not need someone to watch over me, nor do I need or want someone to think for me or worry about my safety. I am not mindless cattle.

Sep 11, 2013 11:54PM
That is a stupid idea. Sometimes you need to speed a little to pass a car that is going well below the speed limit and you need to speed up just enough to get around that car and get back into the correct lane.
Sep 12, 2013 12:45AM
and you wonder why gun ownership is making a stand!!!  was not so long ago they said we could not smoke in our own cars.. not they want to force us do drive they way they want... won't be to long before they tell us what we can do in our home..
Sep 3, 2013 12:21PM
Sep 12, 2013 12:22AM
Just a prelude to when they start taxing you for how many miles you drive. 
We claim we have Freedoms, we don't. We have allowances by other humans who some perceive as more capable. The only capability they have that we don't is the power to coerce us into doing things according to common sense or extort (pay a fine) more money from us to create more coercion. 
Time to demand our true Freedoms and Liberties be returned to us.
Sep 12, 2013 12:45AM

Just another example of goverment control in people's lives. You think you're free? You're not.

You're on a leash, and the goverment decides how long that leash is.

Sep 7, 2013 8:25AM

This is like in the late eighty's in the United States they sold cars with speedometers that only went up

to 85 mph. Now Buses and Trucks have speed limiters that save the company money on insurance

and fuel. But for the private citizen I think its a bad idea. 

Sep 11, 2013 11:56PM
You can see why the EU is in trouble, Big Brother is alive and well there, not to worry they will be coming undone soon.
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