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Speed limiters are now mandatory, but you can turn them off

The use of mandatory speed limiters on all new cars was approved by the European Parliament in 2019, and they're now coming into force

80mph motorway speed limit

Arriving alongside a range of new safety features destined for all new cars, mandatory speed limiters have come as part of the General Safety Regulation proposed by the European Commission, approved in 2019 by the European Parliament and all EU member states. While the UK is no longer in the EU, it is very likely that all UK cars will now receive the technology regardless, and it comes into force this month. 

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Dubbed Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), the limiters will use GPS data and/or traffic sign recognition cameras to determine the speed limit of the road a vehicle is travelling on. Engine power will then be limited to match this following an audible warning, preventing the car from exceeding the speed limit. It will be possible to override the system for the current journey by pushing hard on the throttle, however the system will be re-engaged every time a car is started.

If you think you can simply keep pressing a little harder on the throttle to break through the system, think again. ETSC also states that: ‘If the driver continues to drive above the speed limit for several seconds, the system should sound a warning for a few seconds and display a visual warning until the vehicle is operating at or below the speed limit again.’ 

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> UK speeding fines 2024 – what are the latest penalties for drivers?

A feature already seen on all new Volvos and models such as the Ford Focus, the speed limiters are also set to come alongside data loggers, autonomous emergency braking systems, lane keep assist, driver fatigue detection systems and other safety measures. It’s not all quite as bad as you may think, though, as the European Transport and Safety Council admits the system will come with an on/off switch initially. This is only 'to aid public acceptance at introduction' however, and so it’s likely that it intends to push for even stricter rules in the future, meaning a permanent system may come into force.

The systems will be required on all new cars sold from July 7 2024, with even unsold factory-fresh showroom examples needing to be retrofitted with the technology after that date. With the recent confirmation of the UK’s adoption of the technology came interesting news from the Department for Transport, stating that it expects limiters 'to give drivers feedback when the speed limit is exceeded rather than limiting the speed' with a reduction in engine power as previously understood. 

The push for the new safety tech is being driven by a projected reduction in traffic collisions and lives lost on UK roads; ETSC says the limiters will reduce collisions by 30 per cent and save 25,000 lives within 15 years of being introduced.

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