While the chaos surrounding Brexit continues on, the European Commission is pushing out regulations continuously, and the latest one means that from 2022 all new cars will have to have an Intelligent Speed Assistant (ISA) built in.

Like the article we wrote recently, Volvo is leading the way in this, as they have already started producing top speed limiters for al cars.

Amongst all of this, industry experts are raising concerns that these new speed limiters are actually unsafe.

EU regulations

Back in May 2018, the European Commission put forward a proposal to introduce a speed system that would use GPS and then digitally limit the speed of the car. Along with other safety measures, this was proposed as a way to reduce the 25,000 deaths a year on roads across Europe.

Some may be currently questioning the relevance of this article, given the current Brexit situation; however, the Vehicle Certification Agency stated that all new EU laws would be mirrored, regardless of any outcome.

Along with the ISA, the EU also released a list of all additional safety features that have to be included which are:

  • Advanced emergency braking (cars, vans)
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Drowsiness and attention detection (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Distraction recognition / prevention (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Event (accident) data recorder (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Emergency stop signal (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Full-width frontal occupant protection crash test – improved seatbelts (cars and vans)
  • Head impact zone enlargement for pedestrians and cyclists -safety glass in case of a crash (cars and vans)
  • Intelligent speed assistance (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Lane keeping assist (cars, vans)
  • Pole side-impact occupant protection (cars, vans)
  • Reversing camera or detection system (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system (vans, trucks, buses)
  • Vulnerable road user detection and warning on the front and side of the vehicle (trucks and buses)
  • Vulnerable road user improved direct vision from the driver’s position (trucks and buses)

A lot of these are already included in vehicles or would have been already, but some are more controversial than others.

The alcohol interlock installation, for example, will have to be fitted to all cars but will only affect those who have been convicted of drunk driving. Once their driving ban has been lifted, their car will have a breathalyser fitted for a set amount of time which they will have to use to get the car working, discouraging them from repeat offending. 12% of previous offenders will go on to drink drive again, and three out of ten high-risk offenders will go on to drink-drive a second or even third time.

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “Every year, 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error. 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. Many of the new features already exist, in particular in high–end vehicles. Now we raise the safety level across the board, and pave the way for connected and automated mobility of the future.”

Objections

Along with the Big Brother argument, industry experts such as the AA, have come out against some of the proposals, citing them as unsafe. In a statement to the Mail Online, Edmund King, AA president, said: “When it comes to Intelligent Speed Assistance the case is not so clear. The best speed limiter is the driver’s right foot and the driver should use it to do the right speed in the right situation.

The right speed is often below the speed limit, for example, outside a school with children around, but with ISA there may be a temptation to go at the top speed allowed which may not be appropriate.

Sometimes a little speed also helps to keep safe on the road, for example, overtaking a tractor on a country road or joining a motorway.

Dodgem cars are fitted with speed limiters but they still seem to crash.“

The concept of a car being able to stop you from driving over a certain limit seems certainly peculiar but could this perhaps being the slow introduction of autonomy? All of the new safety features introduced are more autonomous. Are we slowly being stripped of our freedom to drive?

What are drivers saying?

Last week, when we published our article on in-car monitoring systems, we had plenty of responses from members protesting the move to autonomy and big brother taking over. George Orwell’s 1984 is a frequent reference that people use to show the state the world is heading towards.

Surely the question here could be asked is “If autonomy saves lives, should we accept the eventuality of it?” No accurate statistics exist on the safety of autonomy vs humans but we know human error and misjudgement account for the majority of accidents and so the introduction of widespread autonomy in vehicles could potentially be a life-saving exercise.

Autonomy could save lives and also enable those who are house ridden to get back on the roads as the car can do a lot of the driving for them. The possibilities and applications are endless but it requires a careful balance of introduction and not overwhelming us all.

What do you think of the new laws? Are there any that raise concerns? Do you think autonomy is a good thing? Let us know below

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