Speed limiters are back in the news again.

According to an article in The Telegraph, they could be fitted to all new cars under government plans to fall in line with EU Legislation.

The controversial European Union ruling was debated and agreed on by the UK before Brexit.

Power cuts

Ministers are set to announce consultation on a range of vehicle safety measures. These reduce engine power or set off alarms if drivers exceed the speed limit.

The safety measures are also being backed by environmental campaigners pushing for lower speeds to reduce emissions.

However, a number of Tory MPs have suggested the “Big Brother in your cockpit” proposals are part of an “anti-driver campaign”.

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, is less than impressed. “This will completely destroy the luxury car market,” he says. “I think there are so many aspects of the anti-driver campaign now that are coming to the fore.

“This is just more Big Brother in your cockpit. We’ll see more of this if we go up the route of road pricing”. He adds that people have not “thought of the freedom aspects of all of this. It just sounds very unconservative.”

Thinking safety

The measures include so-called intelligent speed assistance (ISA). This relies on a combination of GPS tracking and cameras on the vehicle to assess the local limit.

Manufacturers can choose from a range of responses for the driver. These include an alarm system similar to seatbelt alerts, to mechanisms that reduce engine power or push back on the pedal when drivers break the speed limit. Drivers can override the system, but the technology will reactivate every time the car is started.

Experts warned that the system can fail when there are temporary speed restrictions or unclear road signs. This could cause drivers to speed unintentionally if they are relying on the inbuilt ISA device.

However, manufacturers including Citroen, Ford, and Jaguar have already started including the technology in some of their cars.

Overriding common sense

Greg Smith, a Tory member of the Commons transport select committee, warns that enshrining speed limiter requirements into law would be “totally unnecessary”.

“We’ve got a well-established system of people taking their driving test, understanding the law, proving they can drive properly and then being trusted to do so, with harsh penalties if they don’t,” he said.

“Anything that then seeks to layer in more distrust of the state of its citizens to be able to do what is sensible, legal and practical is just unnecessary nannying.”

‘Speed limits have to be totally accurate’

Edmund King, the president of the AA, warned of chaos if the speed limits on the roads were changed and the system was not updated.

Manufacturers welcome the move

The EU softened initial plans to make the more stringent ISA system mandatory. Such a system has been shown to reduce road deaths by up to 20%.

The UK’s Vehicle Certification Agency has previously said it intends to mirror EU rules on vehicle safety standards after Brexit.

While the DfT says no decisions have been made, industry experts say diverging from the EU rules would be disastrous for manufacturers.

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders, welcomes the measures. He commented that the SMMT is looking forward to discussing “how these measures will be rolled out in this country”. However, he added that diverging from the EU regulations would be bad for the industry given the close ties between the two.