The in-car tech may automatically slow down a vehicle if the driver exceeds the speed limit.
The European Union officially adopted a mandate Wednesday requiring all new vehicles sold in the EU to include technology that could prevent drivers from speeding when activated.
Called Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), the tech uses different methods to detect the speed limit on any given road that a vehicle is traveling on. The primary means to detect the posted speed limit of any roadway is to use the vehicle’s outward-facing cameras. However, the regulations also call for ISA to utilize map data and “deep learning” in case the speed limit cannot be determined from a sign.
ISA regulations say that if a vehicle speeds on any road, the system—when activated—must warn the driver or even automatically slow down the vehicle until it reaches the posted speed limit.
Automakers can implement passive or direct methods to adhere to posted speed limits. For passive warnings, the vehicle may sound an auditory alert or gently caution the driver with a vibration in the steering wheel. For a more direct approach, automakers can choose to use the accelerator pedal to gently lift the driver’s foot, or ensure that speed is “automatically gently reduced” by the vehicle’s software.
For now, there are ways around the systems, namely: drivers will be able to override the tech. The European Road and Safety Charter says that drivers will be able to countermand the speed limiter by applying further pressure to the accelerator. If the system becomes too cumbersome, the vehicle operator will also have the ability to disable the system completely.
Those overrides are critical now because a vehicle’s systems may not always perceive the correct speed limit when on the road. For example, damaged or vandalized road signs may cause the vehicle to improperly read a speed limit, as may non-harmonized signage. Likewise, weather conditions could cause the cameras to be unable to read a road sign. It is for these reasons that the EU has called ISA a “best-effort driver assistance system” and maintains that the driver is responsible for adhering to relevant traffic laws.
As of July 2024, all new vehicles sold in the EU must be equipped with ISA. The European Commission says that excess speed contributed to nearly “30 percent of all fatal crashes,” and hopes that its new speed-related safety system mandate will significantly cut down on that figure as newer vehicles become more commonplace on the road.
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