Intelligent Speed Assistance: A Help Or Hindrance?
In an age where new technological innovations promise to give us all the answers, we ask drivers for their views on this important discussion on driving speed, a surprisingly sensitive topic…
Following on from our article about the introduction of compulsory speed limiting technology a few months ago, we launched a survey to gauge opinions on the announcement that Intelligent Speed Assistance technology may become compulsory in new cars from 2022. The responses showed a surprising strength of opinion, suggesting that this mandate may be controversial if introduced.
What is Intelligent Speed Assistance?
Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) is a system which enables cars to receive information via GPS so that the vehicle can auto-limit its speed according to speed limits. As with other driver aids, it’s likely that the system could be switched off or overridden at the driver’s discretion. This technology, dubbed ‘speed limiter technology,’ is reported to have been provisionally agreed by the EU as a mandate for all new cars sold in Europe by 2022, with the UK reportedly in favour regardless of Brexit outcomes.
Why is this technology attractive?
There are 3 main benefits which support the introduction of ISA:
- Safety. It’s anticipated that the new technology will help to reduce both the number of incidents and the severity of injuries caused by speed-related accidents.
- Lower speeds mean reduced fuel consumption, reduced exhaust emissions and slower wear and tear on vehicles.
- Driver monitoring. ISA technology, like existing telematics systems, could further support professional fleet managers to monitor their drivers’ safety and efficiency.
Surely this is good news?
In some ways, yes. But at CLM, we noted that discussion on this topic seemed more heated than others and we wanted to dig deeper…
‘We take all potential policy changes and new technologies really seriously, researching and discussing them thoroughly to help our clients stay ahead,’ says John Lawrence, Managing Director at CLM. ‘But we were struck by how the ISA conversations within our own team led to hot debates. We realised this needed looking into with a wider audience, so launched an online survey to help gauge the possible perceptions and challenges which our clients may face should this technology become compulsory.’
The response was strong, with 270 people completing the survey and over 300 comments on CLM’s Facebook page starting a hot debate online.
This wasn’t an exhaustive study into fleet management or professional drivers’ attitudes, with 66% of respondents describing their road usage as ‘drive daily for commuting purposes or similar.’ Nonetheless, the results and discussions showed polarised opinions around 3 hot topics for the fleet management industry:
- Safety: is it just about speed?
While 45% of people who completed the survey agreed that ‘technology such as speed limiters is helpful in reducing accidents and will have a positive road safety benefit,’ opinions varied with some calling for greater emphasis to be placed on minimising driving distractions such as mobile phones, drink driving and drugs rather than speed alone.
This also raises interesting questions for companies providing company cars as 54% claimed that they would avoid getting a new car with such a device fitted.
A related consideration is the importance of training – should companies be incentivised to educate employees to drive more safely rather than installing mechanisms to monitor speeding alone?
- Data: how much information is too much information?
A major concern was the perception that ISA ‘is a step too far and is overly controlling / “big brother,”’ with 57% agreeing that it is. This perception is an important management consideration for fleet managers who need to balance the need to closely monitor their drivers with that of maintaining morale and trust.
- Costs: could speed safety be monetised?
41% of respondents agreed that speed limiter technology could help them to avoid speeding fines but many raised concerns about whether the new technology would raise the consumer cost of buying and maintaining the new vehicles longer-term. There were also views questioning the motives of government vehicle mandates – could such technology become adopted more to increase penalty revenues than improve driving standards? It’s too early to tell how the costs of such a mandate would be balanced across the supply chain and shared by vehicle manufacturers but this is a factor which fleet managers, service providers and asset finance providers would need to prepare for.
So, what’s next?
It’s a case of wait, see and discuss but this research suggests that the adoption of compulsory ISA technology could have major implications for fleet managers of any size:
‘Our survey results show how wide the implications of such a policy can be, from costs to operational to employee / employer relationships,’ says John Lawrence. ‘We’ll be staying close to this topic and will be sharing updates as developments unfold.
Whatever happens, our goal is the same: to make fleet management as easy, cost and time efficient as possible. CLM thinks smarter in everything we do to minimise our customers’ policy-related hurdles and costs as well as maximise their efficiency and safety on the roads.’