Drivers oppose automatic speed control, says IAM

EU not planning to make speed controls mandatory anyway

by John Stevenson   October 28, 2013  

Speed camera (CC licensed image by DaveBleasdale:Flickr)

A majority of drivers oppose the mandation of ‘intelligent speed adaptation’ technology to stop drivers exceeding speed limits, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Drivers believe it would compromise rather than enhance safety.

Intelligent speed adaptation uses location systems such as GPS to detect speed limits and control the vehicle’s speed accordingly.

Reports last month claimed that the EU was considering forcing car manufacturers to install intelligent speed adaptation in all new vehicles and to make drivers retro-fit it to older vehicles.

These reports were based in part on a statement by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin that the government was opposed to the measure.

A government source quoted by the Press Association said: "To be forced to have automatic controls in your car amounts to Big Brother nannying by EU bureaucrats."

However, it turns out that not only was the European Commission not proposing to foist speed controls on unwilling British motorists, it wasn’t even thinking about doing so.

European Commission blog ECintheUK called the claims “inaccurate beyond the limit”, and said: “Reports in the press ... have suggested that the EU intends to bring forward “formal proposals this autumn” to introduce automatic speed controls ... into cars. This is quite simply not true and the Commission had made this very clear to the journalists concerned prior to publication.”

Reports on the subject had deliberately left out the first sentence from a European Commission statement on the subject which said: “The Commission has not tabled – and does not have in the pipeline – even a non-binding Recommendation, let alone anything more.”

Nevertheless, the IAM asked drivers what they think, and it turns out they’re not keen. (We have asked IAM why they went ahead with the survey despite the stories about the EU's plans being false.)

“Fifty-seven per cent of drivers feel that ISAs won’t have a positive impact on road safety – avoiding crashes, deaths and injuries,” says the IAM.

And 78 percent don’t want to be forced to retro-fit the systems to existing cars.

The IAM found that a majority of drivers like systems that leave control with them. “Sixty-seven per cent would prefer ISAs to operate with warning messages with no control of the vehicle,” says the IAM.

Opposition to mandatory safety measures in cars in nothing new. The British government examined making the wearing of seatbelts mandatory as early as the 1960s and returned to the topic in the 1970s.

In 1973, the RAC advised the government: “The time for consideration of such a drastic measure has not yet been reached ... (it would) have undesirable effects on relations between police and public, many of whom would justifiably resent prosecutions and convictions."

The police agreed, saying that it would cause them extra work and make them unpopular. “Any further deterioration in the good relationship between police and public is to be deplored, but it is difficult to see how this could be avoided.”

As a result of such opposition, the wearing of seatbelts did not become compulsory in the UK until 1983. 

Instead, the government continued to rely on the ‘Clunk Click Every trip’ series of public information films hosted by Jimmy Savile. The road toll in the UK remained above 6,000 per year for most of the seventies.

33 user comments

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shocker it wasnt true but its a damn good idea to get cars driving at the proper speeds dont understand why anyone would object to it unless they are all saying they want to break the law!?
This sort of thing would make the streets safer for vulnerable users by controlling speed in urban areas more effectively than speed cameras and police patrols have been able to do previously.

posted by McDuff73 [46 posts]
28th October 2013 - 18:39

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McDuff73 - thank god you are not the decision maker then, mrmo is correct, its not outright speed that's the issue, its inappropriate speed, I would rather somebody came past me at 40mpg giving me 2 metres space than somebody restricted to 30mpg with 2 inches space.

posted by mikeprytherch [212 posts]
28th October 2013 - 18:54

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Anyone who drives a car will realise that a system like this would be unworkable and dangerous. Imagine you have to take sudden avoiding action to get out of the way of an imminent collision, but are prevented from doing so because you were about to break the speed limit!

Until some point in the future when all cars are controlled using the same intelligent technology, then it might work I suppose.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
28th October 2013 - 19:08

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I disagree with this on the grounds of freedom. A system which limits you to a speed limit is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is more likely to assist people breaking the law than help others.

As Mr Mo says, it is the driving, not the speed that causes issues. So the decision making is the defective issue. Incidentally I keep making this point to my girlfriend when she descends hills, but she still descends while braking..... Day Dreaming D Oh

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1103 posts]
28th October 2013 - 19:14

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Mikeprytherch- when I was hit at 30 miles an hour I didnt give a damn how fast the car was actually travelling but the speed it hit me caused more damage than had it been travelling at 20 mph or 15 mph, anything that reduces the speed of large 2 tonne metal boxes on the roads is fine by me.

If its decision making thats the problem having more time to make a decision by travelling slower will benefit.

Until such a time as you can guarantee that all car drivers will drive in a safe and controlled manner around other vulnerable road users any measure to curtail the damage they can cause is ok in my books.

posted by McDuff73 [46 posts]
28th October 2013 - 19:52

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Why do they sells cars that go much more than 70mph anyway?!

Pete

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posted by peterblencowe [2 posts]
28th October 2013 - 20:00

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McDuff73 wrote:
Mikeprytherch- when I was hit at 30 miles an hour I didnt give a damn how fast the car was actually travelling but the speed it hit me caused more damage than had it been travelling at 20 mph or 15 mph, anything that reduces the speed of large 2 tonne metal boxes on the roads is fine by me.

My real concern, based on years of evidence, is that drivers are stupid and not to be trusted? Tell them that they can drive at a given speed and they will switch off even more than they already do.

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posted by mrmo [1055 posts]
28th October 2013 - 20:17

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thing is though mrmo even if they switch off if they are only travelling 20 or 15 mph then the end result will be a lot less damage.

posted by McDuff73 [46 posts]
28th October 2013 - 20:36

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McDuff73 wrote:
thing is though mrmo even if they switch off if they are only travelling 20 or 15 mph then the end result will be a lot less damage.

True, but my concern is outside of urban areas, rural rat runs that sort of thing. So while limiters might stop cars going fast in an urban area i am concerned many drivers would basically use it as a limiter and drive to it.

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posted by mrmo [1055 posts]
28th October 2013 - 20:41

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700c wrote:
Anyone who drives a car will realise that a system like this would be unworkable and dangerous. Imagine you have to take sudden avoiding action to get out of the way of an imminent collision, but are prevented from doing so because you were about to break the speed limit!

Until some point in the future when all cars are controlled using the same intelligent technology, then it might work I suppose.

How often do you find that acceleration is the best way to avoid an accident as opposed to braking. When I did my driving test there was an emergency stop part but not a 'floor the gas and go as fast as you can' part. Do you think perhaps they have that the wrong way round?

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posted by Northernbike [123 posts]
28th October 2013 - 21:03

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Inappropriate speed is the problem, I regularly ride country lanes with the national speed limit of 60mph. But, 40mph is as fast as anyone with any sense would go.

I think a better idea are the devices that monitor your driving style, and reward go driving with cheaper insurance etc. You could also use the data as evidence after an RTC; which could act as a deterent for bad / dangerous driving.

I'm not a fan of "big brother" style control, but am very in favour of anything that makes good, safety driving "the best option". May be ban Top Gear would be a good start. It promotes a very antisocial attitude and driving style. There are morons out there who think Top Gear is actually a senible way to drive. The small dick mob in my opinion!

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [197 posts]
28th October 2013 - 21:18

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Fifty-seven per cent of drivers feel that ISAs won’t have a positive impact on road safety

Why would they trot out this garbage? It's meaningless.

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posted by nowasps [245 posts]
28th October 2013 - 21:49

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I would prefer not to have in-car technology force drivers to obey the law but let's face it, many of them won't do it voluntarily.

Perhaps an alternative to speed control is to have a loud alert, like a persistent beeping tone that automatically adjusts so it it louder than any ambient noise. While you are speeding the annoying noise just keeps on going... do it with the windows down and everyone else knows you're doing it too.

"Any further deterioration in the good relationship between police and public is to be deplored, but it is difficult to see how this could be avoided."

Good relationship? So policing is determined by public pressure now! How about teaching people to respect the law? And what about the public who want more law-abiding drivers, lower vehicle speeds in urban areas and fewer fatalities?

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posted by Simon E [1932 posts]
28th October 2013 - 22:17

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McDuff73 wrote:
shocker it wasnt true but its a damn good idea to get cars driving at the proper speeds dont understand why anyone would object to it unless they are all saying they want to break the law!?
This sort of thing would make the streets safer for vulnerable users by controlling speed in urban areas more effectively than speed cameras and police patrols have been able to do previously.

Agreed.
My vote would go to any politician who announces that speeders in urban areas would get double points and double the fine. Speeding is far more likely to cause injury to innocent folk in urban areas. Traffic light cameras on every controlled junction to catch the jumpers.

posted by Guyz2010 [283 posts]
28th October 2013 - 23:01

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Yeah, I mean heaven forbid drivers should actually have to obey speed limits...

posted by northstar [1090 posts]
29th October 2013 - 6:41

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Colin Peyresourde wrote:
I disagree with this on the grounds of freedom. A system which limits you to a speed limit is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is more likely to assist people breaking the law than help others.

As Mr Mo says, it is the driving, not the speed that causes issues. So the decision making is the defective issue. Incidentally I keep making this point to my girlfriend when she descends hills, but she still descends while braking..... Day Dreaming D Oh

Freedom to break the speed limits? really? (which are far too high on the majority of public highways)

posted by northstar [1090 posts]
29th October 2013 - 6:43

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Perhaps it could be mandatory for those with speeding and/or other driving offences.

posted by GREGJONES [112 posts]
29th October 2013 - 9:37

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I don't really agree with this as i think it would encourage people to drive even more on autopilot than normal. There are situations where the safer option is to accelerate around a problem than to emergency brake. but if you can't do that then you have no option but to brake and potentially that _could_ cause a bigger accident. The problem with this would be that it also wouldn't stop other dangerous driving, like tailgating, not leaving enough space when passing, not paying attention etc. I also wonder what will happen the the gps goes apesh*t like my garmin occasionally does and suddenly thinks someone is on a side road not a motor way and slams their speed down to 30 from 70...

posted by md6 [156 posts]
29th October 2013 - 11:21

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Automatic speed control is coming, eventually. As with all these in-car systems as people become more confident with it they become less advisory and more controlling.
Take for instance cruise control, it is great especially when there is not enough traffic to force you to go slowly, it also avoids the complaint of "having speed cameras forces you to look at the speedo rather than the road".
The first generation of assisted emergency braking was introduced many years ago, the premsie is that when people need to do an emergency brake they don't brake hard enough so the car increases the braking force when it thinks it is necessary, now we have cars that do that automatically, from the collision avoidance to the cars that stop you tail gating.
We have automatic windscreen wipers, automatic lights now ones that dip from full beam.
The technology to recognise speed signs exists and can be displayed on board, with audio warnings when you exceed it.

In terms of safety, if you accept the premise that the majority of road users drive in excess of the speed limit and that slow speeds reduce accidents (as purported by the 20 is plenty campaigns in their various guises) then mandatory speed enforcement must be a safe thing. Indeed, collisions rarely happen because of speed, it is the wide distribution of speeds that causes the issues.

I imagine that we will see pay per mile driving before we see this in cars.

posted by Wolfshade [94 posts]
29th October 2013 - 11:51

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700c wrote:
Anyone who drives a car will realise that a system like this would be unworkable and dangerous. Imagine you have to take sudden avoiding action to get out of the way of an imminent collision, but are prevented from doing so because you were about to break the speed limit!

I've driven an awful lot and I can't imagine a scenario where I'd need to take some sort of avoiding action that would require me to break a speed limit. Could you describe one?
I drive over about a thousand speed humps every week. If the alternative was a 20mph speed limiter, I'm all for it.

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posted by Sven Ellis [31 posts]
29th October 2013 - 11:55

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Sven Ellis wrote:
700c wrote:
Anyone who drives a car will realise that a system like this would be unworkable and dangerous. Imagine you have to take sudden avoiding action to get out of the way of an imminent collision, but are prevented from doing so because you were about to break the speed limit!

I've driven an awful lot and I can't imagine a scenario where I'd need to take some sort of avoiding action that would require me to break a speed limit. Could you describe one?

some years back i was cycling down a narrowish country lane. there were terraced houses either side, some of which are a little set back from the road. suddenly a post office van reversed from one of the drives onto the road in front of me. because of a high hedge in the front garden of the house he was reversing from i saw NOTHING of the van until he was in front of me half blocking the road. If i had braked i WOULD have hit him. the only course of action was to accelarate round the back of him and avoid a collision for both of us. yes i was on a bike but could have easily been in a car at that point. whichever mode of transport it would have required me to go beyond the 30 MPH limit to avoid incident.

posted by fretters [30 posts]
29th October 2013 - 12:15

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If the technology was available and affordable, id fit one of this voluntarily, and id hazard that id likely be able to command a reduced insurance premium if i did so....

I'm sure that if it was beneficial to peoples pockets It wouldn't then need to be mandatory...and with a significant proportion of people on the road sticking to the speed limit, life becomes significantly more difficult for those that are prepared to break the law as the bulk of traffic would be sticking to the legal speeds..

Kickstarter anyone ?

posted by scrapper [60 posts]
29th October 2013 - 13:41

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Imagine you're trundling along a motorway or dual carriageway having mostly overtaken a lorry - which then starts indicating right.

You're free to experiment as to which is safer - accelerating past the cab, hope that they've seen you, or emergency braking to position yourself behind again - but could you please notify me in advance when and where you're planning this, so I can avoid it?

posted by nuclear coffee [116 posts]
29th October 2013 - 14:38

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It's just a meaningless bit of PR from a group with a vested interest.

IAM will, I'm sure, be fully aware that self-driving cars are on their way. This threatens their very existence so they'll be delivering preemptive strikes to try and turn public opinion against them.

I doubt they'll win, though. The benefits of self-driving cars in terms of savings to government and individuals, the reduction in avoidable death and injury, and increase in productivity and leisure time are very compelling. (We already know that people would rather text and call than focus on driving!...)

As both a driver and a cyclist, I can't wait...

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/oct/11/driver-less-cars-coming-bike-blog

http://www.kpmg.com/Ca/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/self-driving-cars-next-revolution.pdf

posted by Brooess [17 posts]
29th October 2013 - 15:02

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Northernbike wrote:
700c wrote:
Anyone who drives a car will realise that a system like this would be unworkable and dangerous. Imagine you have to take sudden avoiding action to get out of the way of an imminent collision, but are prevented from doing so because you were about to break the speed limit!

Until some point in the future when all cars are controlled using the same intelligent technology, then it might work I suppose.

How often do you find that acceleration is the best way to avoid an accident as opposed to braking. When I did my driving test there was an emergency stop part but not a 'floor the gas and go as fast as you can' part. Do you think perhaps they have that the wrong way round?

In answer to your question - sometimes. Not very often, but sometimes. If that ability to accelerate away from danger is taken away by a computer overriding my inputs as I respond to the constantly changing environment, then it would put everyone at risk.

Consider the need to complete an overtaking manoeuvre safely, when the unexpected happens, to get out of the way of an ambulance, to stop somebody from hitting you from behind or in the side on a roundabout - who knows when you will need that 1 mph in an emergency?

Yes, speeding is wrong in principe, but as others have said, it's inappropriate speed that is the greater danger.

To suggest that nobody need ever break the speed limit, or that to do so at any time in the real world is unsafe, is extremely naive.

Of course, when everybody uses the same autopilot system, and human factors are taken out of the equation, then it could be a good idea. In fact, it would probably be safe to travel at far greater speeds!

posted by 700c [556 posts]
29th October 2013 - 22:52

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So let's look at the premise that sometimes being able to exceed the speed limit helps to avoid an accident.

Let's say it happens x times in every 10,000 miles driving.

Now, let's say that y is the number of times that being able to exceed the speed limit contributes to an accident in 10,000 miles driving.

I would guess that y > x and I would think by some margin, so I think the overall affect would be safer roads.

Does anyone really think x > y?

Nerd

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posted by mckechan [180 posts]
30th October 2013 - 16:25

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mckechan wrote:
So let's look at the premise that sometimes being able to exceed the speed limit helps to avoid an accident.

Let's say it happens x times in every 10,000 miles driving.

Now, let's say that y is the number of times that being able to exceed the speed limit contributes to an accident in 10,000 miles driving.

I would guess that y > x and I would think by some margin, so I think the overall affect would be safer roads.

Does anyone really think x > y?

Nerd

Correct, but that's not the point, is it? It's about being able to take the decision on your speed, in appropriate circumstances, to avoid an accident, which would be taken away from you, as a driver.

This is completely independent of the decision to drive at an inappropriate speed for the conditions. Speeding or otherwise.

Or to put it another way, the ability to drive at 71 mph safely on an empty motorway does not mean I am more likely to have an accident, as long as my driving remains otherwise appropriate and safe, but if I happen to make a habit of driving at max 70 mph on congested motorways, in the rain, then I would be more likely to have an accident.

Poor human decision making and driving at inappropriate speed causes accidents.

posted by 700c [556 posts]
31st October 2013 - 0:02

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if as has been claimed accidents are caused by poor human decisions then surely driving at slower speeds and giving yourself time to make better decisions is a must!?

besides which, whats the problem with making people drive 2 tonne metal boxes slower when its been proven that impacts at slower speeds are less likely to result in death?

posted by McDuff73 [46 posts]
31st October 2013 - 14:04

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oh and as for the comments about speed on the motorway, if you see someone on a bike at risk from speed on the motorway I would contend that the problem then is a cyclist on the bloody motorway not the cars speed.
Sheesh get some persepctive this is about speeds on urban roads, towns and cities not the concrete highways.

posted by McDuff73 [46 posts]
31st October 2013 - 14:07

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700c wrote:

Correct, but that's not the point, is it? It's about being able to take the decision on your speed, in appropriate circumstances, to avoid an accident, which would be taken away from you, as a driver.

Well, yes it is my point. I am saying ... although I agree that a) Speed can be excessive without being above the speed limit, and, b) it *might* be possible that breaking the speed limit could prevent an incident ... I still think there would be less incidents overall if it were not possible to exceed the speed limit

It would be fairly easy to test: take 1000 drivers and randomly assign half of them to have automatic speed restrictions fitted to their car. After one year see what the rate of incidents is between the two groups.

Anyway, I doubt a politician would dare suggest automatic speed restrictions as a compulsory measure even if there was firm evidence to support it, but I would definitely consider fitting a system to my car voluntarily - especially, as others have said, if it reduced my insurance premium.

Dedicated cycling price comparison | http://www.leadoutbikes.com

posted by mckechan [180 posts]
31st October 2013 - 20:27

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