EU mulls plans to clamp down on speeding with automatic braking systems

February 06, 2017

In the US, how good an autonomous car is is typically measured by how many times human intervention is needed per thousand miles driven. Google’s Waymo cars are most accurate and are pulling ahead of the competition, with only 0.2 interventions per thousand miles, after the cars logged 30 times more miles of testing than all their competitors combined last year in California.  

The EU on the other hand has taken its time devising a strategy for dealing with autonomous technologies, preferring to start with the most basic forms of autonomy. Now no new cars will get a five-star EuroNCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) rating without crash-avoidance systems. However, bigger plans are on the horizon.  

The European Commission (EC) is considering introducing automatic braking systems on all new cars in order to reduce the number of road deaths, which topped 26,000 in the EU in 2015.  

Theoretical advantages of the system include no more speeding tickets and no more accidents as a result of excessive speed.  

Explained in an EC working paper, the Intelligent Speed Adaption (ISA) system would prevent drivers from exceeding the speed limit.  

It provides a number of options as to how the driver is informed that they are exceeding the limit, from visual warnings that leave action up to the driver to automatic reduction in speed by the software, which critics would call part of a police state.  

The system can be turned off, for example so that overtaking manoeuvres can be carried out.  

It also uses reliable data to pinpoint where the vehicle is currently on the road, and takes into account speed limits in force at any given time, as well as recognising traffic signs.  

The Commission has been advised by its transport experts to push forward with the idea. One of their studies shows the number of traffic deaths could fall by up to 37%.

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