Intelligent Speed Assistance is on the way in Europe.
Intelligent Speed Assistance is on the way in Europe.

Not so fast: EU puts brakes on drivers

EUROPE plans to mandate speed limiting devices and other safety devices for all new cars.

The move is part of a wide-ranging introduction of mandatory safety technology that experts are calling a "seatbelt moment" for road safety.

The European Union's provisional agreement will make a range of safety technologies mandatory in all cars by 2022.

They include a data recording system similar to an in-flight black box recorder, driver attention monitoring, lane keeping assistance and automated emergency braking.

The most controversial, though, is "Intelligent speed Adaptation" which not only informs drivers of the current speed limit, but stops them from going any faster.

European Union industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said 25,000 people died on European roads each year.

"The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error," she said.

"We can and must act to change this.

"With the new advanced safety features that will become mandatory, we can have the same kind of impact as when the safety belts were first introduced."

Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the European Transport Safety Council agreed that technology such as ISA and in-car data recorders as represented "a historic day for road safety".

"There have only been a handful of moments in the last fifty years which could be described as big leaps forward for road safety in Europe," he said.

"The mandatory introduction of the seat belt was one, and the first EU minimum crash safety standards, agreed in 1998 was another.

"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.

Polish legislator Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, who helped pass the laws, told Forbes the debate had been "emotional".

"Here we're dealing with human lives, in the most direct sense of the word," she said.

"Drivers always worry about freedoms being taken away, they did also with seat belts."

Critics say the changes are nanny-like.

British Automobile Association spokesman Edmund Kind told This Is Money ISA could make roads less safe, as drivers may pay less attention to their surroundings.

Cars will initially allow drivers to speed, either by deactivating the system or pressing hard on the throttle - elements which may be removed as drivers become familiar with the technology.

Reaction to ISA has been mixed, with some enthusiasts suggesting it could eventually lead to the end of performance cars.

As cyclist lobby group Safe Cycling Australia put it, "that new Ferrari is getting wiped off the bucket list".

Others point out that EU governments will have to rework their budgets to account for a sharp reduction in revenue from speeding fines.

The technology is likely to come to Australia in one way or another, as our cars feature the same safety tech as European models. Important parts of the car are essentially identical under the type approval process which allows Volkswagen to sell the same Golf in Europe, the UK, Australia and beyond.


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