All cars sold after the year 2022 in the European Union will have ‘smart speed assistants’ built in, meaning they will adjust the speed of the vehicle to the limits on the road it is travelling on.
This move had already been proposed by Spain’s General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) a year ago, but as yet, the plan is that car drivers will be able to deactivate it if they wish – only drivers of coaches, buses, lorries and vans will not be able to switch theirs off.
It is not yet known when, if at all, the European Parliament will opt to make it compulsory for the devices to be activated at all times.
Other ‘smart’ systems which all vehicles manufactured from 2022 will be required to have as standard include advanced braking systems, distraction warning systems, devices which warn drivers if they are drifting out of the correct lane, reverse detection devices, an interface which stops the car engine from switching on if the driver is over the alcohol limit, an emergency stop signal, and a ‘black box’ to record accident data.
The ‘smart speed assistant’ alone would cut road deaths by 20%, according to European Parliament – the European Commission has revealed that in 2018 alone, over 25,000 people were killed in crashes on roads in the 28 member States, and 135,000 were seriously injured.
Spain’s Road Safety and Prevention manager at the MAPFRE Foundation – the social action arm of MAPFRE insurance – Jesús Monclús says if every single car in the country was equipped with a speed assistant that blocked them from going faster than the limit, around 400 fewer deaths per year would occur.
Some of the other assistance devices due to become mandatory in new vehicles in three years’ time are merely ‘helpful’, Monclús reveals – such as adaptative and safety distance detectors ‘only prevent rear shunts’, but will not necessarily have a significant impact on road mortality rates.
He is in favour of all these being included but says the speed-cap device is the one that will save the most lives in Spain.
According to Bosch Spain, the system is a cross between cruise-control and signal recognition, allowing the vehicle to read road signs and traffic signals via video camera, whilst a radar sensor will detect cars in front.
Some makes and models already have this system in place – the Ford Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy, many of which are manufactured at the plant in Almussafes (Valencia province), have had them built in for the last three years, and the Ford Focus is the next on the list.
Mercedes-Benz also offers it as an option for the A-Class, plus C- and E-Class saloon, estate, coupé and cabriolet, the S-Class saloon, coupé and cabriolet, and the CLS.
Similar mechanisms are installed in other makes and models – the new Fiat 500 has a signal-recognition system and a speed advisor which the driver has the option to turn into a speed-limiter at the touch of a button.
Some drivers of cars which do not have these systems put their sat-nav on for all journeys so that they will beep to warn them if they exceed the speed limit.