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Speed Limiters Now Added to New Vehicles

Home Office figures for 2021 reveal more than 6,000 drivers a day were caught speeding by either traffic police, or on speed cameras. In an effort to boost road safety and ensure widespread compliance with speed limits, the EU has announced that as from 06 July 2022, all new vehicles sold on the European market must be fitted with speed limiters.


As the name suggests, a speed limiter is a safety device which prevents a vehicle exceeding a certain pre-set speed. The technology has existed for a while and many drivers of new and used cars may already know about speed limiters or may have actually driven a car fitted with such a device.

However, the real significance of this new announcement is that it applies in all EU jurisdictions. Some have suggested the post-Brexit UK government may decide to follow suit and allow the new law to apply here, even though we are no longer members of the EU.

It appears the international motor trade (as represented by the SSMT – Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), plus major motor manufacturers and Euro NCAP Testing are all in favour of adopting this legislation.

Commenting on the development, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “With the heavily integrated nature of the UK and European automotive sectors, regulatory divergence is not advantageous for either party.”

Emphasising the safety benefits, EuroNCAP added: “Greater adherence to speed limits will avert accidents and mitigate the effects of those that occur.”

The primary technology underpinning this new legislation is known as Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) – a technical feature already rolled out by some leading motor trade industry brands (Citroen, Ford, Renault, Volvo, amongst others), including vehicles marketed in the UK.

ISA speed limiters receive data via onboard GPS satnavs and from traffic sign recognition cameras. Once there is the potential to exceed a mandatory speed limit, the driver receives automatic alerts. If there is no response, the system then automatically limits engine power to cut the vehicle’s speed, thus forcing the driver to observe the applicable speed limit.

The European Transport Safety Council is already convinced ISA systems will save hundreds of lives each year and has gone on record to claim the technology could result in a drop of 30% in road collisions and thus reduce the number of road deaths by 20%.

Though the UK Department for Transport took an active part in planning for the introduction of speed limiters, the government has not yet made any decision to introduce such legislation for UK motorists.

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The RAC report that ‘discussions are set to be held amongst ministers in the months ahead to discuss what parts of the mandate could be introduced on our roads.’

Critics of the system suggest drivers can actually be placed in danger by an automatic mechanism which prevents them using speed as a strategy to avoid danger.

In addition, some have raised doubts about whether ISA technology is sophisticated or advanced enough to warrant its endorsement as a true safety feature.

Partly for such reasons, drivers can opt to override ISA technology when they switch the engine on, and sometimes by pushing hard down on the accelerator.

While the safety aspects and potential for reducing accidents will appeal to motor insurers, it is too early to say whether driving a vehicle fitted with ISA technology will impact upon private or motor trade insurance policy premiums.

Nevertheless, there will surely be a duty to warn anyone visiting their local motor dealership to take a test drive on trade plates if they are likely to be placed in control of ISA-equipped new and used cars.