From 2022, new vehicles sold in the UK and Europe are likely to be fitted with a mandatory speed limiter to help keep within the speed limit and boost road safety.
The top speed you can legally drive at on UK roads is 70 miles per hour. So why can most cars reach speeds over 100 mph?
That’s a question that has long puzzled road safety experts.
In the UK, Police recorded 2.2 million speeding offences in 2020, or around 6000 every day. Of these, 1.09 million drivers chose to complete a speed awareness course.
Government figures for reported road casualties in Great Britain, show there were an estimated 1,472 reported road deaths and an estimated 23,486 killed or seriously injured casualties in 2020.
With around 26,000 road deaths in Europe each year, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has been campaigning for mandatory speed limiters in the belief that they can help reduce collisions by 30%.
The European Commission has provisionally mandated that all new vehicles sold in Europe will be fitted with a speed limiter from July 2022. Despite leaving the EU post-Brexit, the UK looks likely to follow suit and obey the new ruling. The UK has retained most EU laws relating to new vehicles.
It’s understood currently that the 2022 introduction relates just to cars, vans, trucks, buses, coaches and similar. Motorcycles aren’t included for now. And retrofitting speed limiters into older vehicles will not be required.
Speed limiting works by incorporating Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) technology, which uses either a video or GPS system to detect speed signs and alert drivers if they are going too fast. If the driver doesn’t slow their speed the vehicle will intervene and do it for them. The system doesn’t affect the car’s braking system, though after a series of alerts if the driver doesn’t apply the brakes, the vehicle reduces power to the engine. The car will then naturally slow down to the new speed limit. The limiter can be overridden in some circumstances, for example if you need a burst of power for overtaking.
Besides the life-saving potential of the technology, benefits may also include reduced CO2 emissions, improved fuel efficiency and it could help reduce the risk of getting a speeding ticket. The new automatic detection software also detects walkers, cyclists and vulnerable road users, thus potentially improving safety.
Several vehicle manufacturers are already using the ISA system, including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Citroen and Renault. Volvo has also welcomed speed limiters and was the first manufacturer to roll out the system across all their models. Volvo is also developing ‘smart speed controls’ that will detect when a car is driving close to a vulnerable site, such as a school or hospital.
It’s important, however, to be careful not to create an over-reliance on technology. There are times when we may be driving within the speed limit, but the speed may be inappropriate for the conditions, such as driving on wet roads.
There’s also some thinking that simply warning drivers and/or limiting vehicle speeds won’t necessarily reduce collisions to the desired levels, after all a driver could still override the system and speed through a 30mph zone.
As a leading insurer of business vehicles, QBE champions the use of vehicle-based intelligent technology for road safety, for example in our work partnering with Thatcham Research on launching the world’s first Commercial Van Safety Ratings.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which can identify safety-critical situations and take action, together with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) have the capability to greatly reduce crash severity. With AEB warning the driver of an upcoming danger and applying the brakes before an impact, the speed at which a collision occurs can be decreased to a life-saving degree, or ideally, impact is avoided altogether. Thatcham Research have stated that AEB is “probably the most significant development in car safety since the seat belt”.
As well as vehicle technology, businesses can help to improve road safety and reduce speed related incidents through ongoing driver education.
Fleet managers, risk managers and business owners should continue to educate drivers to the dangers and ensure there isn’t a temptation to go at the maximum speed allowed by the technology. Remember, it’s a limit, not a target.
There are a number of resources available to businesses to help improve road safety, including:
Training - Invest in ongoing driver education and training courses, as well as in-vehicle devices and apps to keep safety a number one priority.
Technology - Embrace the technology that’s available, such as advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) that can identify safety-critical situations and take action, telematics, cameras and vehicle inspection software that can help monitor speed and driving styles, as well as ensuring vehicles are in a roadworthy condition.
Regular feedback - Technology and reporting can show which drivers have the safest driving record and where there are any potential problems. You could perhaps use this as an opportunity to reward the safest drivers.
Policies - Have clear company policies around road safety and the use of alcohol and drugs at work and ensure that everyone is aware.
QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.
With almost a century of insuring commercial vehicles, 50 years’ experience in insuring bus and coach fleets, and 30 years as the UK leader in minibus insurance, QBE is fully committed to the motor sector and proactively helping customers to manage risk and drive down claims. This approach has made QBE a name to trust in commercial motor insurance.
QBE customers can access self-assessment questionnaires and a library of risk management material, along with a panel of approved partners who offer training, e-learning and other services at specially reduced rates. You can find more information in our Motor risk management service offerings brochure, and find out more about how QBE helps businesses to manage risk here.
Finally, a reminder that if you have an incident and need to make an insurance claim, it’s important that you report it as soon as possible, ideally the same day. Reporting a claim early can save time and help you to receive any claim payments faster, as well as allowing us to help mitigate the cost of third-party claims.