Speed limits are there for a reason. Not only do they let you stay within the law, but they also keep you and other drivers safe on the road. But every now and then, it’s easy to let distractions or impatience, get the better of us. And in these moments, speed limits can sometimes go out the window, putting you and those around you in danger as a result.
This is where a speed limiter comes in handy, stopping you from exceeding the speed limit during those times when you might have a momentary lapse behind the wheel.
But how exactly does this technology work? And are such devices mandatory in cars across the UK? We’ll answer both questions, along with a host of others, in the article below…
What is a speed limiter?
Also known as Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), a speed limiter is a safety device fitted to your car to prevent the vehicle from exceeding pre-set speed limits.
While this may sound a little like cruise control, there’s a difference. Cruise control keeps you at the same speed. A speed limiter, on the other hand, lets you speed up and down as normal, but the limiter will kick in to remind you if you’re driving above the set limit. Pushing the pedal at this point will have no effect.
How does speed limiter technology work?
To prevent you from driving any faster, speed limiters use GPS data and speed sign recognition software to make a note of the maximum speed limit of where you’re driving. This information is then sent to the engine’s computer. When the pre-determined speed is met, the computer restricts the flow of fuel and air to the engine, stopping you from exceeding this limit. Driving into another area with a different speed limit adjusts the limiter accordingly.
There’s also another type of speed limiter available too. Adjustable speed limiters give drivers the option to set the limit themselves. After selecting the maximum speed, you want to travel at, you then drive as you would normally. Should your car reach the speed, you won’t be able to drive any faster. The limiter stays active as you slow down and speed up, but of course, you’ll need to adjust it whenever the speed limit in your area changes.
But can you override a speed limiter? Yes, you can. If you need to speed up quickly, pushing down hard on the accelerator will do the trick. However, the speed limiter will reset every time the car is restarted.
What are the benefits of a speed limiter?
Aside from keeping you within the speed limit, how else can speed limiters help you? Let’s take a look…
Think of the role that speed has to play in road accidents. While a speed limiter won’t prevent accidents outright, it can help to massively reduce their likelihood. This might also have the added benefit of leading to a drop in insurance premiums.
Improved fuel efficiency
Driving at speed can burn far more fuel than necessary. Since a speed limiter regulates the amount of fuel that is delivered to the engine, it ensures you won’t be using up excessive amounts during your journeys.
All that fuel that’s being burned up is only going to produce and then release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Speed limiters are, therefore, great at reducing the amounts of harmful gas, keeping your carbon footprint down and improving the overall quality of air.
Since you’ll be doing less speeding, there’s far less chance of you being on the receiving end of fines for any infractions you might incur on the road. With a reduction in speeding and subsequent penalty points, you could well keep the cost of your car insurance down too.
Improved driving habits
When you’re more aware of your speed – and don’t have to think about over-speeding anyway – you’ll be able to concentrate more on the road, reduce the number of careless errors, improve your own safety and, perhaps most importantly, enjoy the drive wherever it is you’re heading.
Are speed limiters mandatory?
After reading the above, you’ll probably be wondering “is a speed limiter mandatory on my car?”
On 6 July 2022, the European Commission announced that all new vehicles made in Europe must have speed limiters added. New cars that have already launched will be retroactively fitted with speed limiters by 7 July 2024. As you’d expect, the measures are being introduced for safety reasons. The European Transport Safety Council have predicted that the introduction of such tech will reduce road collisions by 30% and deaths by 20%.
Although the UK’s Department for Transport was involved in the development of these plans, no decision has been reached by the government to also follow the legislation here.
However, given that most cars made in Europe are also sold in the UK too – with right-hand drive, of course - it’s expected that the tech will come into effect at some point. Even after Brexit, the UK has retained many EU laws that apply to new cars, so mandatory speed limiters could well be a feature of new cars sooner than we may think.
Can a speed limiter be removed?
While you can’t remove a speed limiter per se, you can switch them off. Depending on the make and model, you’ll have to look for the speed limiter button on your dashboard, usually a symbol or the letters LIM. The symbol is fairly similar to the symbol used for cruise control, so make sure you don’t get the two confused.
Like we said above, you can also override a speed limiter by forcefully pressing down on the accelerator too.
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