Minister putting his foot down over speed rule

Marion Dakers
PLANS to fit cars with devices that would force drivers to stick to the speed limit have been met with fury at the Department for Transport, a Whitehall source said yesterday.

The European Commission is due to publish its findings on so-called intelligent speed adaptation in the autumn, but transport ministers in the UK are already railing against the proposals.

Department insiders have described the plan as having “Big Brother written all over it”, according to reports at the weekend, and transport minister Patrick McLoughlin has told European officials of the UK’s opposition.

The speed-limiting devices, already fitted in new heavy goods vehicles and buses, are aimed at cutting the number of deaths on Europe’s roads.

The gadgets keep track of the speed restrictions on the route and can make it more difficult for drivers to break the limit, by increasing the resistance on the car’s accelerator pedal or making a warning noise.

Another design of the devices forces the vehicle to slow down when the driver approaches the limit, a feature that some driving groups claim could be dangerous, for example when overtaking.

Around one quarter of European car drivers consider a speed-limiting device to be very useful, research for the Commission showed, and trials have taken place in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Deaths on British roads fell eight per cent to 1,754 in 2012, marking the lowest number of reported fatalities since the figures were first gathered in 1926. The UK’s rate of fatal road accidents per million population was the lowest in the European Union.