New ETSC report on speeding and the vital role of in-vehicle technology

Speeding remains a significant road safety problem according to new research published this week by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).

The researchers looked at the numbers of vehicles found to be driving above the speed limit on different road types in the countries that were able to provide such data.

  • On urban roads, where 37% of all EU road deaths occur, the researchers found that between 35% and 75% of vehicle speed observations were higher than the legal speed.
  • On rural non-motorway roads, where 55% of all road deaths in the EU occur, between 9% and 63% of vehicle speed observations were higher than the speed limit.
  • On motorways, where 8% of all road deaths in the EU occur, between 23% and 59% of observed vehicle speeds were higher than the speed limit.

While reducing speeding will require a combination of measures including higher levels of enforcement, improved infrastructure and credible speed limits – the authors singled out Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), a driver assistance system available today, as the key in-vehicle safety measure for tackling the problem.

Graziella Jost, Projects Director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) said:

“500 people die every week on EU roads, a figure that has refused to budge for several years. And driving too fast is still the number one killer. It’s very simple: if we want to bring down the number of road deaths, we have to tackle speed effectively. Right now, the EU has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a massive difference. Including overridable Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) on every new vehicle as standard could eventually prevent a fifth of road deaths. We urge MEPs to back this essential life-saving measure.”

Out of the 27 countries that could provide data on the number of speeding tickets issued over the period 2010-2017, the figure went up in 18 countries while 9 registered a decrease.

The report can be downloaded from

European legislation

On 21 February, the European Parliament’s Internal Market (IMCO) Committee will vote on critical new EU vehicle safety standards which include a proposal to make overridable ISA a mandatory technology on all new vehicles from 2022. It is estimated that this single measure could eventually reduce deaths on European roads by 20%. The entire package of vehicle safety measures is expected to prevent more than 25,000 deaths between 2022 and 2037, but only if it is adopted in its entirety.

What are MEPs voting on this week?

The update to the EU’s General Safety Regulation for motor vehicles was proposed by the European Commission in May 2018, as part of a package of new road safety measures, and includes a number of new mandatory technologies such as Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) and an overridable form of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), to help drivers keep within the speed limit. The measures also include improvements to passive safety (crash protection) and a new “direct vision” standard for lorries to give drivers better visibility of the road (and other road users) around them.

What is Intelligent Speed Assistance?

ISA uses a speed sign-recognition video camera and/or GPS-linked speed limit data to advise drivers of the current speed limit and automatically limit the speed of the vehicle as needed. ISA systems do not automatically apply the brakes, but simply limit engine power, preventing the vehicle from accelerating past the current speed limit unless overridden by the driver. Vehicles with this kind of ISA system factory fitted are already on sale – helped in part by Euro NCAP’s decision to reward extra points for vehicles that include ISA. The system is fitted as standard on the new Ford Focus for instance. See:

What needs to happen before the proposals become law?

The new law needs to be approved by both the European Parliament and representatives of the 28 EU governments. Negotiations to agree a final legal text, known as trialogues, will likely begin soon based on the outcome of the vote in the Parliament’s IMCO committee. EU Member States already set out their initial position on the law in an agreement reached in December.