Every new car sold in the UK and Europe may soon be fitted with a speed-limiting device, following several changes to vehicle safety rules that the European Union has provisionally agreed, The Guardian reported.

The speed limiter is one of several safety features to be made mandatory by 2022, with others being autonomous emergency braking (AEB), electronic data recorders and built-in visibility tech for lorries which help drivers detect surrounding or oncoming pedestrians/cyclists.

The speed limiter device is called intelligent speed assistance (ISA – no, not that ISA), and it works by using GPS data and sign recognition cameras to detect speed limits where the car is travelling. If the driver exceeds the speed limit, the ISA simply limits engine power, preventing the car from accelerating past the current speed limit unless overridden.

Drivers will still be able to override the device by accelerating harder, which addresses motorists’ concerns that in certain situations (especially during overtaking), speeding up could be safer. The UK’s automotive association president, Edmund King said it isn’t clear if ISA will improve safety, but he welcomes plans to make AEB mandatory.


Volvo will begin limiting speed of its cars to 180 km/h by 2020

The package of measures, which includes making data recorders (like a black box but for cars) mandatory to help investigate car crashes and assist research into increased safety, will have to be ratified by the European parliament, which is likely by September this year. The report also said lane departure warning will become an obligatory feature.

The move to introduce and mandate these safety features has been described by safety campaigners as one of the biggest leaps forward in 50 years, following the invention of the seat belt and EU minimum crash safety standards. In fact, when set in motion, it could possibly reduce collisions by 30% and save over 25,000 lives by 2037.

The UK has one of the lowest rates of road deaths among European nations. In 2017, 322 people died on British roads when the vehicle was either exceeding the speed limit or judged to be travelling too fast for the conditions. While Britain may no longer be part of the EU when these rules come into effect, its regulatory body, the Vehicle Certification Agency, said it will mirror safety standards for vehicles in the UK.

Meanwhile, Volvo recently became the first automotive brand to announce that it would limit the speed of all its new cars to 180 km/h by 2020. Volvo chief Håkan Samuelsson said “if someone is going to show leadership in safety, it needs to be Volvo.”