Speed limiters coming and welcomed

From 2022, all new cars sold in the UK and the EU are to be fitted with speed limiters.

This is very good news. Founded on the principle of road danger reduction  – which prioritises designing out danger at source – RoadPeace has long called for this life saving technology and welcomes this announcement.

Its impact should be huge.  Casualty savings should extend beyond the number of people reported killed and seriously injured in speeding related crashes. Three key reasons spring to mind:

  1. Much larger number of seriously injured than that reported by police
  2. Contributory factors
  3. Role of speed in crash risk and crash severity

True toll

The true number of people seriously injured in crashes is 590,000, over three times that reported by the police.  That is the Department for Transport’s (DfT) best (central) estimate and DfT’s upper estimate is 670,000.  DfT deserves credit for researching under-reporting and acknowledging the true toll is much higher than that reported in STATS 19.

Contributory factors misleading

At the time of reporting the collision, police record contributory factors.  Minimal investigation will have been completed by this time.  CCTV will not have been checked nor witness statements taken nor crash reconstructions conducted.  And police are only supposed to record those factors which they would testify in court had contributed to the collision.  This is a high standard and can only result in under-estimation of offending, including speeding.  DfT warns that:

It is important to note that it may be difficult for a police officer, attending the scene after an accident has occurred, to identify certain factors that may have contributed to a cause of an accident.

Role of speed in crash prevention and severity reduction

Driver retraining programmes have increasingly focused on the role of speed in reducing overall crash risk, including where the vehicle is not speeding.  This is because reducing speed reduces the braking distance and speed at impact (if any).  Crashes caused by driver distraction or impairment have their severity reduced with the reduced impact speed, or even avoided completely, by a reduced braking distance.

Long time coming – especially in London

Speed limiters are being rolled out in buses in London. Transport for London (TfL) has made this one of the planks of their bus safety programme.  And it has been almost 10 years since TfL first trialled Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) in London.  Its six month programme found ISA in central London affected the speed of 12 vehicles around the ISA fitted car. In outer London, it was eight other vehicles affected.

And safety benefits of ISA are well established.  The European Transport Safety Council estimate ISA could lead to a 20% reduction in road deaths.

Wider benefits

Reducing speed will have even wider benefits as it will reduce intimidation posed to those walking. This will be a much needed boost to the government’s active travel programme.

ISA should help drivers save money as well. Much speeding is claimed to be unintentional and ISA will therefore help drivers avoid the cost of speeding fines and speed awareness retraining programmes. Fuel costs should go down as well.

And we do not think the benefits stop there but environmental campaigners are much better placed to explain the wider environmental benefits.

There are so many reasons why this is so welcomed, and so many people will benefit from this measure. Whilst it sadly comes too late for the thousands of families who have had loved ones killed by speeding drivers,  RoadPeace members are united in their desire to see others spared.