In news that has seemingly flown under the radar (considering it’s right around the corner), the UK is set to adopt the EU-mandated ruling that all new vehicles sold from 2022 onwards will be fitted with ‘ISA’ (Intelligent Speed Assistance) automatic speed limiters. Is motorcycling as we know it about to change?
Simply put, through the use of cameras, GPS and computers, onboard systems will be able to impose limits & restrictions on the power of vehicles as they approach the speed limit, slowing your progress as you reach the designated limit for the road you’re on.
It’s been in the pipeline for quite some time, since at least March 2019.
What’s the deal with this ‘ISA speed limiter’, then?
As of May 2022 when this mandate is set to be introduced, all new cars, vans, lorries & buses (and similar vehicles) will be fitted with automatic speed limiters alongside other new safety devices. Retrofitting this new tech into older vehicles is not required.
It works by limiting engine power automatically & electronically once a vehicle reaches the designated speed limit for a road, with monitoring systems coming in if the driver does not slow down by their own accord. Accelerating past this limit will be still possible with a firm push on the accelerator pedal – overriding the limiter and restoring full power – and driving over the speed limit can be achieved if the conditions require it, but after a short period audible & visual warnings will sound. Any warnings will cease once the vehicle returns to (or below) the speed limit.
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) also note that a ‘full on/off switch’ for the limiter should be included, but only to “aid public acceptance of introduction” – making it very likely that we won’t be afforded such luxuries of choice in the future.
Will motorcycles be affected by the 2022 ISA speed limiter introduction?
For now, it appears that new motorcycles will not be part of this. This bill has been introduced to make the roads safer, particularly for vulnerable road users, and as the Department for Transport recently confirmed their plans to introduce a hierarchy for all road users placing vulnerable users at the top – including motorcyclists.
However let’s not all celebrate just yet, The Bike Insurer note that a motorcycle ISA technology has yet to be fully developed and is not ready for two wheels, and as a result, it will not be implemented on our bikes for now.
Technology is always advancing, and no doubt this will be a different story in the years to follow as they become less of a novelty.
Theoretically you can still take your road-going vehicle to a track day, switch off any limiter in place and have your fun – but the limiter will be switched back as you restart the vehicle. Sounds like an ABS off-switch!
Further, the ETSC will be introducing mandatory data loggers, lane keep assist, autonomous emergency braking & driver fatigue detection systems alongside the ISA limiters.
That’s right, mandatory data loggers. They are in place in a lot of new vehicles anyway, but ruling ensures that all new vehicles will keep a track of your driving behaviour like a teenager’s VW Golf running a telematics box. If anything happens whilst your foot is flat to the floor and you’re ignoring the car screaming at you to slow down, your car will be the first one giving evidence.
Where does the UK stand in all of this?
The UK Department for Transport considers such limiters a “step change in road safety across Europe, including the UK”.
Where the DfT differs from the EU law is in the deployment of limits. As per Auto Express, for now limiters in the UK will “give drivers feedback when the speed limit is exceeded rather than limiting the speed” as opposed to the ESTC interpretation “If the driver does not apply the brakes [when entering a lower limit], the vehicle would in any case slow down naturally to the new speed limit by reducing engine power.”
The bottom line here is that road safety will be improved by a huge margin. The ETSC say that traffic collisions will reduce by 30 per cent, and 25,000 lives will be saved in the first 15 years of coming into force. That’s a very hard point to argue against.
Many will wonder why the UK is following EU homologation laws if Brexit was really a thing, and it’s true – but in this case, the UK has decided on its own accord to adopt the laws. Speed limiters are inevitably coming to bikes, and around the same sort of time we’ll be looking at purely electric power on the roads too.
Emissions will go down, road speeds will go down, maybe insurance premiums will go down too? Okay, maybe that’s a bit unrealistic…
In reality, our roads are on the brink of almost changing beyond all recognition – maybe for the greater good, but no doubt many of you will argue it’s a step too far into the book of George Orwell for your liking.
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