Technology That Prohibits Cars From Speeding Could Soon Be Mandatory

Seeing a cop car on the side of the road, passing under a freeway sign displaying motor-vehicle fatality statistics, “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band coming up on shuffle … all of these are reasons to slow down if you find yourself driving over the speed limit.

On Monday, the European Union moved closer to adding a more reliable solution, provisionally agreeing “to force every car sold in Europe starting in 2022 to include software designed to slow drivers down if they break the speed limit,” according to Business Insider.

Naturally, the outcry was instantaneous, with call-to-arms headlines ranging from “technology that will force you to stick to EVERY speed limit” to “Brexit NOW! Brussels to fit speed limit devices in cars by 2022 to CONTROL how YOU drive.” (Not going to validate that clickbait with links, but you get the picture.) But if you actually take the time to read about the technology and the proposal, it seems like a no-brainer.  

In a press release, the European Parliament cited that more than 25K people died on E.U. roads in 2017 and 135K were seriously injured. The proposed technology could reduce fatalities by 20 percent, according to estimates.

The gadgetry itself will actually be a combination of almost 30 different features, but the main component is called Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA). As the New York Times describes, this speed-limiting system “uses video cameras, satellite location data or both to detect when drivers go over the speed limit, and curbs their ability to speed up further by restricting engine power.”

What about emergencies? What if I need to speed up to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle? What if a former bomb squad officer out for revenge hooks up explosives to my car that prevent me from going under 80 MPH? All those worries are unfounded, because the driver can override the system when needed, “by pressing harder on the gas pedal, for example,” according to the New York Times.

But as Business Insider notes, the ruling is provisional “and still subject to formal votes in the European Parliament and is subject to approval by the E.U.’s member states.” So it might be a lot of commotion for nothing (hopefully like Brexit).

Photo by toine Garnier on Unsplash