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Speed limiters could be on new cars in three years

New rules are due this year which would see cars fitted with speed-limiting devices.

From 2022, new cars, vans, lorries and buses sold in Europe could be fitted with more than a dozen new safety features including the technology which slows a vehicle down if it is travelling too fast.

Intelligent speed assistance (ISA) uses a speed sign recognition camera and GPS-linked speed limit data to automatically limit the speed of the vehicle.

The system does not apply the brakes but instead limits engine power, although drivers can override it by pushing hard on the accelerator, an action that will prompt an alert from the system.

The measures were first announced by the European Commission last year but after talks in Strasbourg on Monday night, they look set to be given the go-ahead by EU member states in September.

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In the UK, the government has already said vehicle standards will be aligned with those of the EU after Brexit, so new cars in Britain will also have the safety features from 2022.

Other safety features include automated emergency braking which can detect pedestrians and cyclists, technology that senses when drivers are falling asleep or losing concentration, a system that keeps vehicles in the centre of the lane and a vehicle data recorder enabling deeper understanding of the causes of a collision.

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Punish drivers who go 1mph over speed limit, police chief says

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The rules also address drink-driving, making it easier to retrofit an alcohol interlock device to a car.

EU commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said: "Every year, 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error.

"We can and must act to change this. With the new advanced safety features that will become mandatory, we can have the same kind of impact as when safety belts were first introduced."

Road safety charity Brake also praised the move, describing it as a "landmark day for road safety".

Director of campaigns Joshua Harris said: "These lifesaving measures come at a vital time, with road safety in a concerning period of stagnation with more than 70 people still being killed or seriously injured on British roads every day."

But AA president Edmund King said: "There is no doubt that new in-car technology can save lives and there is a good case for autonomous emergency braking to be fitted in all cars.

"When it comes to intelligent speed adaptation, the case is not so clear.

"The best speed limiter is the driver's right front and the driver should use it to do the right speed in the right situation.

"The right speed is often below the speed limit, for example outside a school with children about, but with ISA there may be a temptation to go at the top speed allowed which may not be appropriate.

"Sometimes a little speed also helps to keep safe on the road, for example over-taking a tractor on a country road or joining a motorway.

"Dodgem cars are all fitted with speed limiters but they still seem to crash."

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