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The Times: Automatic speed limits planned for all new cars

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Mar 27th, 2019
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  1. All new cars will be fitted with devices that make sure they automatically keep to the speed limit in a move billed as the biggest overhaul of road safety in more than 50 years.
  3. Within the next three years, models sold in Europe are expected to use technology that detects limits and slows down vehicles travelling too fast.
  5. It will be one of 15 new safety features fitted as standard to cars, HGVs or buses. Other measures include technology that detects when drivers are losing concentration or falling asleep, a system that keeps cars in the centre of lanes and accident black boxes that record vehicle movements.
  7. All cars will also be fitted with automatic emergency braking, which brings vehicles to a stop when pedestrians step into the road or a car ahead suddenly slams on the brakes.
  9. The measures were approved by the European Commission and are expected to be rubberstamped by the European parliament and member states in September. The UK government has already said that vehicle standards will be aligned with those in the EU after Brexit, meaning that the same rules will be expected on British roads.
  11. Road safety groups described the measures as possibly the biggest single improvement since front seatbelts were made compulsory. However, the AA warned that “intelligent speed assistance” could prove problematic if a vehicle is suddenly slowed down when another car is driving too close behind.
  13. The changes will be applied to all wholly new models of cars by 2022. New versions of existing cars will be fitted with the technology from 2024. Many new cars, particularly premium models, already have some or all of the systems.
  15. Nine in ten crashes are believed to involve some form of human error.
  17. Speed assistance uses GPS technology to detect the limit on a road. A vehicle driving too fast when a speed limit changes will be automatically slowed down, which campaigners hope will help to change motorists’ behaviour.
  19. It will not be possible for the driver to switch off the system completely. However, in a move designed to smooth public acceptance of the technology, drivers will be able to override it when it kicks in by pushing down on the accelerator. This will allow motorists to overtake a vehicle just in front.
  21. The move follows the publication of figures by the Department for Transport showing that 4,805 accidents were logged in 2017 in which the driver was exceeding the speed limit. Of those, 203 involved a death, representing one in seven fatal crashes on British roads.
  23. Volvo announced weeks ago that it would roll out technology to limit the top speed of cars to 112mph from 2020.
  25. Edmund King, president of the AA, welcomed measures such as automatic emergency braking but warned: “This sort of technology can be problematic when you suddenly switch from a 40 to 30mph zone and there is a taxi right on your tail. Quickly slowing right down isn’t always the wise thing to do,” he said. “It also relies on ensuring that it has a very comprehensive and up-to-date map of all speed limits. What happens when you enter roadworks and the car allows you to go too fast?”
  27. Joshua Harris, of Brake, said: “These measures will provide the biggest leap forward for road safety this century, perhaps even since the introduction of the seatbelt. These lifesaving measures come at a vital time, with 70 people still being killed or seriously injured on British roads every day.”
  29. Elzbieta Bienkowska, the EU commissioner for industry, said: “Every year 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error . . . 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.”
  31. A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We continuously work with partners across the globe to improve the safety standards of all vehicles. These interventions are expected to deliver a step-change in road safety across Europe, including the UK.”
  33. * Drive to eliminate the dangers
  35. The European Commission plans 15 new safety features from 2022 including:
  37. * Alcohol interlock installation facilitation
  39. Prevents motorists driving when over the drink-drive limit. Breathalysers can be installed for previous offenders.
  41. * Drowsiness detection
  43. Warns tired drivers to take a break.
  45. * Lane-keeping assist
  47. Monitors a vehicle’s position and moves it to the centre of the lane.
  49. * Event data recorder
  51. Like an aircraft black box, it allows data to be accessed after a crash.
  53. * Direct vision
  55. Makers of HGVs and buses must fit bigger windscreens and side windows so drivers can see cyclists.
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