Whilst road safety has improved over the last decades this downward trend has plateaued since 2013, not just in the UK but across the EU.

To get back on trend the EU has been actively pursuing several new in-vehicle initiatives, one of which is Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA).  As we all know, as speeds increase the time road users have to react reduces and the forces increase, meaning it takes longer to stop and any collision is more serious.  In 2018, a report commissioned by the UK’s Department for Transport indicated that just a 1% increase in mean speeds is likely to lead to a 4% increase in fatal collisions.

Speed management

One of the most important ways that speeds are managed is the use of speed limits, but for these to be effective a driver needs to obey them.  However, drivers may fail to do this because of an error (for example, failing to see the speed limit) or they may choose to deliberately break the limit.  To improve compliance, from 2024 ISA will be introduced on all new vehicles sold within the European Union.

The system

There are many ISA systems being used but broadly speaking they work by detecting the speed limit, often through a combination of GPS and a camera fitted to the vehicle. 

If the vehicle is above the speed limit the driver is warned, by an audible or visual alert, that they are breaking the speed limit and the fuel flow is then reduced to slow the vehicle.  Current ISA systems allow the driver to override the system, either by switching it off, before setting out on a journey, or by firmly pressing the accelerator. 

Using the system

Whilst the system has massive potential to improve safety by improving compliance its success will be dependent on if people keep the system turned on, don’t override it, if the system is accurate when detecting the speed limit the vehicle should be complying with, and if people see the benefits.  Only time will tell if these benefits are realised.  Of course, ISA and other automated systems will increasingly be introduced as part of the move towards automated or even driverless vehicles.

If you are an instructor or a learner who would like to join and support the engage driving scheme you can find out more here