New car speed limiter demanded by EU cannot be turned off permanently

A speed limiter system being introduced on all newly made cars can only be switched off temporarily, motorists have been warned.

Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) is not legally required in the UK, but car makers are still bringing it in, because of the large number of vehicles they sell to the EU which must conform. The bloc’s rules mandating ISA on new cars come into force from Sunday, although the tech has been compulsory on new models – as opposed to newly manufactured versions of existing models – since 2022, says The Daily Telegraph.

The system flashes up warnings on the dashboard when the car is exceeding the speed limit, using GPS and onboard cameras to pinpoint the vehicle’s location and read road signs.

Audio chimes similar to seatbelt warnings, and haptic feedback – vibrations of the accelerator pedal – also feature on some models, such as Toyota’s 2024 GR Yaris.

In some vehicles, the device will stop the driver accelerating until the car is back under the speed limit.

Steve Gooding of the RAC Foundation explained that although the ISA tech can be stopped temporarily by drivers, it resets itself every time the car is turned off.

He said: “For now, UK drivers will have the option of disabling ISA where it is installed but I think many motorists will tire of switching it off and they will just learn to live with it.”

He added: “Arguably ISA will mark the beginning of the end of a world in which people choose their cars on the basis of its top speed and the time it takes to accelerate from 0 to 60mph.

“It’s a sign of things to come,” he continued. “Increasingly, the car is going to decide what you can and can’t do.”

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, said: “Even though ISA isn’t mandatory in the UK, many new cars will be sold with this technology.

“However, it is only an advisory system, meaning it will beep and flash, but the driver retains control and can even switch it off. Drivers should remember that ISA is an assistance tool and that the ultimate way to moderate speed is through the driver’s right foot.”

ISA is legally required to be fitted to new cars sold in Northern Ireland, thanks to the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol.

Yousif Al Ani, a principal engineer with automotive company Thatcham Research, said: “As ADAS [advanced driver assistance system] is increasingly fitted to cars, vehicle manufacturers will need to address concerns from drivers that these systems, such as emergency lane keeping systems, interfere with their driving experience.


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