Can’t Stop Speeding? A Computer in Your Car May Do It For You

By Boonsri Dickinson | May 18, 2009 12:57 pm

speeding-car.jpgIs there anything that will make people stop speeding for good? Transport of London has come up with a new technology that they hope will do the trick—both to stop speeding and reduce accidents. It’s called Intelligent Speed Adaptation, and it’s a program installed in cars as a kind of auto big brother: If the car is going too fast, the computer will automatically reduce the speed.

This summer, a total of twenty vehicles, including cars, buses, and cabs, will be testing the new software. Each vehicle will receive a monitor that displays a digital map of the city, corresponding speed limits, and a GPS system, so the program can calculate how fast the car should be going based on its real-time location.

Don’t freak out about a loss of driving freedom just yet — the program has several settings that let the driver control how much leeway it has. In “advisory mode,” the driver, once alerted that he or she is speeding, can voluntarily slow down. The monitor will display an emoticon to express how the driver is doing: A happy face shows up when the car is below the speed limit, and a frown appears if the driver is still going too fast.

Meanwhile in “voluntary mode,” the car automatically slows down when the program spots above-speed-limit speeds. And in case of an emergency, the driver can hit a button to override the program.

In theory, the concept seems to make sense, but can it really ever replace the reliable radar system already in place? And—understandably—irate drivers are already complaining that it will take away their freedom on the road.

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Image: flickr/

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • C H

    so … how long before the first head-on collision due to the car automatically slowing down while passing?

  • Trackerb

    The real question for you, C H, is, why are you over taking if you have to exceed the speed limit to do so? Speed limit regulations still apply while overtaking (at least in my country). You can still be booked for speeding if you are overtaking.

    So the point is probably, if the car in front is doing the speed limit is there a need to overtake at all?

    I see bad driving every day on the road, I have been a culprit of it myself on occasion. I always remind myself though that if I am late I am late. I dont want to put other people’s safety before getting to work on time, or to that date. I would approve of this device in my car. I use cruise control all the time to keep to the speed limit particularly on the freeway when I find I am struggling not to speed.

  • DB

    Trackerb – If the car in front is going say 5-10km slower than the speed limit, are you trying to say that you’ll just patiently sit behind them until they either turn or there is an overtaking lane? And if you do choose to overtake, would you only do the speed limit even if it’d take you half a k to get past them? Bollocks I say. No way this would get on my car, and if it becomes compulsory, what’s to stop me from disabling it?

  • Joe

    Trackerb, you sound like a fun time. Tell me this, do you strap it on and give your date a good fucking if he disobeys? You must be the life of the party.

  • Jaber

    RE: in case of an emergency, the driver can hit a button to override the program.

    Because there’s plenty of time in an emergency to hit a button AND attempt accelerate out of a dangerous event.

  • C H

    There are times when it is more safe to go over the speed limit than at or under it. Overtaking (or passing as we call it in the USofA) a car going 5 mph under the limit, as Trackerb points out, is a reasonable option. I would argue that when passing, it is safest to do so at the highest possible speed, so as to stay in the lane of oncoming traffic for as little time as possible, rather than obey the speed limit during the pass. My consideration here is for safety and practicality, not legality.

    As Mr. Bumble would say, “the law is a a..”

    Most speed limits are enforced for the purpose of raising revenue, not making the roads safe.

  • Aaron

    Ouch. Burn.

  • Stephen

    Never a reason to speed to pass a car? You are on a 1 lane in each direction country road and there is a double length semi truck ahead of you going 35 in a 45 zone. When you are passing him do you only want to go 45 and sit in the lane longer increasing your chance of getting hit in a head on collision or do you maybe want to kick it up to 55 to get ahead of him and back in the proper lane?

    Or light ahead of you turns yellow, you dont have enough space to stop do you want to hit it to get thru the intersection in time?

    Up next, implants to let the British know when they have had too much to drink / eat for the day.

  • chris

    Seems to me that most cities would want to slightly change the working of the program.

    Mostly to that instead of adjusting your speed, it’d just write a ticket for you to pay once you broke the speed limit.

  • http://fark Ray

    How about the real problem? The government knows exactly where you are at all times, how fast you drive, when you drive and from where you’re driving, I.E A bar late at night. I am not condoning driving drunk, but rather if they want to know what you do, now they can…

    Think of the real picture, this is just a step closer to controlling the people…one step at a time.
    I live in the U.S but if it’s starting there it will soon be here. Fight it.

  • Common Sense


  • Natasha Fatale

    What happened to democracy? If the majority of the relevant population violates a statute, then the statute is flawed, and not the citizenship units who violate it. In the case of speed limits, this is an area that is rife with abuse. Rather than programme cars to obey unrepresentative, top-down rules, first set speed limits that are rational. Whenever one hears that the majority of drivers in an area speed, the truth is that the speed limit is artificially low. Only *then* should we implement a system that regulates the speed at which one drives over a particular stretch of road.

  • Free Colonist

    It would be wise to pay attention to the elder statesmen of a country that had the common sense to throw your nanny state out…

    “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Benjamin Franklin

  • Haseen

    I have a long drive, so speeding 10-20 over saves me about a half hour a day. The device would be pretty much useless to me 😉

    I actually pay attention and slow down for cops, so I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket.

  • Kris
  • Heith

    They have come up with some stupid ideas in the past but this is both stupid and dangerous and has the potential to put lives at risk.

    Like a lot of things invented the people that invent them are never out there in the real world using them, seems this is the case for this stupid idea.

    They have obviously not bothered to work out how much longer a car would need to be on the wrong side of the road overtaking i.e. a semi trailer doing 96 if you were only traveling at 100.

    And as for the statement above where your not suppose to overtake any faster than the speed limit, yea in theory guess you are correct but all i can say to you is “get a life man start living in the real world.”

    My guess would be that If any of us that has ever performed an overtaking procedure had followed that rule, well most likely we would not be here today.

  • Aaron

    Heith, So True.


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