ISA has grown up!
"Intelligent Speed Adaptation" is an Intelligent Transport System which informs, warns and discourages the driver to exceed the speed limit.
If, at the beginning of ISA development, the speed limit was set by the driver or an in-vehicle observer, it is now set automatically as a function of the speed limits indicated on the roads. GPS allied to digital speed limit maps has allowed ISA technology to continuously update the speed limit used to the one relevant to the road driven upon.
ISA does not just lead to a reduction of average speeds but it can also reduce the speed variances between cars. It is a fully mature technology, simple and effective. Overall it is much cheaper than any other means to enforce existing speed limits. It is a technology that is ready to be used.
There are three types of ISA:
"Informative" (or "advisory"): ISA gives the driver a feedback in the form of a visual or an audio signal.
"Supportive" (or "warning"): ISA increases the upward pressure on the gas pedal. It is possible to override the supportive system by pressing the accelerator harder.
"Intervening" (or "mandatory"): ISA totally prevents speeding, for example by reducing fuel injection or by requiring a "kick-down" by the driver if he or she wishes to exceed the limit.
The more "intervening" the system is, the more significant are the benefits.
Estimates by the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds show that if everyone has and informative or supportive ISA fitted, injury accidents can be reduced by 20%. Moreover the use of a mandatory ISA system, when combined with a dynamic speed limit regime, has the potential to reduce overall injury accidents by 36%, fatal and serious accidents by 48% and fatal accidents by 59%.
ISA is a simple but revolutionary solution to decrease speed and reduce the risk of road fatalities and serious injuries on roads, particularly due to its impact on vulnerable road users and affects in urban areas. It should be installed without delay as it is a big contributor to speed enforcement and will save many lives, especially with a fully intervening ISA. However there remains a substantial number of persistent "myths" about ISA that first need to be refuted.
Myths around the implementation of ISA
It is too often believed that the public is very reticent of any speed limiting device which is seen as intrusive. In fact more than 60% support physical limiter systems in cars to prevent them from exceeding in 30km/h speed limits, and a bit more than 50% support these systems on main roads and motorways. FIA Foundation
Aceptance continues to grow. In fact, the market is likely to develop as a natural consequence of more stringent enforcement of speed. Already, more and more people want to have ISA installed to prevent them from speeding and from having to pay speed-related fines and lose points on their driving licence.
Another major barrier often considered is the bureaucratic obstacles for reliable speed data management. However this much more depends on the careful setting up of a European-coordination structure together with local, regional and national road authorities. This joint effort will guarantee that speed figures are accurately updated for the database used by the GPS and is then transmitted to ISA.
Many raise the issue of liability when speaking about ISA. If the system is intervening a driver might say that it was not reliable in the case of speeding violations or in the case of an accident due to speeding. Although the automotive industry's worries are understandable, they are only relevant in the case of the fully intervening ISA. Moreover the level of intervention that the driver experiences is no more than they currently encounter in devices such as ABS, break assist or ESP. ISA is a simple and mature technology that is fully ready to be used and that is reliable. The problem of liability is much more a matter of having accurate digital mapping of speeds all through Europe.
ISA is an essential element of the overall package needed for the objective of reducing by half the number of fatalities by 2010.
The Commission needs to examine all policy options including legislation so as to create a framework for an ISA market to evolve across Europe. It should also play a key role in the setting up of a coordination structure to develop digital maps for ISA.
Several voluntary initiatives have started in the public sector, such as the Swedish Road Administration which agreed to equip its whole fleet with ISA. Public authorities can definitely play a crucial role in promoting ISA by including it in their procurement criteria for their vehicles. In addition, car manufacturers are taking the ISA issue more and more seriously. They are beginning to realise how ISA can lead to a growing market. Lastly, transport companies which start using ISA as a quality control system also realise how ISA can become a competitive advantage over other transport companies.
Once the coordination structure is set up, there will be no longer such question as the one of "liability", providing that a consensus is found and responsibilities are clearly identified among all stakeholders involved in ISA (including car manufacturers, suppliers and users of ISA and car insurers…).
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