Speed is definitely one of the three main contributing factors to deaths on our roads. Excess speed contributes to around 30% of fatal crashes. Typically 40% to 60% of the drivers exceed the limit. Results from a wide range of studies indicate that reducing average speeds by just 1km/h can result in a 5% reduction in fatal crashes.
European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has been advocating the benefits of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), a driver assistance system that a 2014 Norwegian study found to be the ‘most effective’ in saving lives. The EU-funded and SRA co-ordinated project PROSPER looked into ways that advanced assisted driving technology and technology relating to speed limitation devices can improve safety, and also at the barriers for the implementation of ISA.
Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA)
ISA is a system which informs, warns and discourages the driver to exceed the statutory local speed limit. The in-vehicle speed limit is set automatically as a function of the speed limits indicated on the road. GPS allied to digital speed limit maps allows ISA technology to continuously update the vehicle speed limit to the road speed limit.
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. 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 PROSPER project calculated crash reductions for six countries. Reductions in fatalities between 19-28%, depending on the country, were predicted in a market-driven scenario. Even higher reductions were predicted for a regulated scenario – between 26-50%. Benefits are generally larger on urban roads and are also larger if more intervening forms of ISA are applied. Trials with ISA have been carried out in ten European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. An earlier study in the Netherlands showed that ISA could reduce the number of hospital admissions by 15% and the number of deaths by 21%. Research has shown that ISA and physical measures to reduce road speed are complementary rather than competing methods
– Three types of ISA
- Informative or advisory ISA gives the driver a feedback through a visual or audio signal. A Speed Alert System is an informative version of ISA; it is able to inform the driver of current speed limits and speeding.
- Supportive or warning ISA increases the upward pressure on the accelerator pedal. It is possible to override the supportive system by pressing the accelerator harder.
- Intervening or mandatory ISA prevents any 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.
Who uses ISA now?
While trials and further experimental studies are being carried out in Norway, the Netherlands and the UK, large-scale demonstration has only been implemented in Sweden. Sweden sees the establishment of speed limit data base, the targeting of the road transport industry and the introduction of in-house policies as essential first steps.
Europe on the Move
In 2022 new safety technologies will become mandatory in European vehicles to protect passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. New technologies on the market can help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads, 90% of which are due to human error.
The European Commission proposed to make certain vehicle safety measures mandatory, including systems that reduce the dangerous blind spots on trucks and buses and technology that warns the driver in case of drowsiness or distraction. Advanced safety features will reduce the number of accidents, pave the way towards increasingly connected and automated mobility, and boost the global innovation and competitiveness edge of the European car industry.
Every year, 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error. We can and must act to change this.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska Commissioner
The new mandatory safety features include:
For cars, vans, trucks and buses: warning of driver drowsiness and distraction (e.g. smartphone use while driving), intelligent speed assistance, reversing safety with camera or sensors, and data recorder in case of an accident (‘black box’).
For cars and vans: lane-keeping assistance, advanced emergency braking, and crash-test improved safety belts.
For trucks and buses: specific requirements to improve the direct vision of bus and truck drivers and to remove blind spots, and systems at the front and side of the vehicle to detect and warn of vulnerable road users, especially when making turns.
2050 Vision Zero
The European Commission expects that the proposed measures will help save over 25,000 lives and avoid at least 140,000 serious injuries by 2038. This will contribute to the EU’s long-term goal of moving close to zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050 (“Vision Zero”).
In addition to protecting people on European roads, the new advanced safety features will help drivers get gradually used to the new driving assistance. Increasing degrees of automation offer significant potential to compensate for human errors and offer new mobility solutions for the elderly and physically impaired. All this should enhance public trust and acceptance of automated cars, supporting the transition towards autonomous driving.
In recent years, the EU has introduced a range of mandatory measures, which contributed to an estimated reduction of 50,000 fatal traffic casualties per year. These measures include electronic stability control systems on all vehicles, as well as advanced emergency braking systems and lane departure warning systems on trucks and buses.
The European Commission also presented a Communication on Connected and Automated Mobility to make Europe a world leader for autonomous and safe mobility systems. As a first deliverable for connected mobility the Commission had adopted new rules that step up the deployment of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) on Europe’s roads. C-ITS allow vehicles to ‘talk’ to each other, to the road infrastructure, and to other road users – for instance about dangerous situations, road works and the timing of traffic lights, making road transport safer, cleaner and more efficient.
The importance of the adoption of the technology cannot be underestimated. ISA is expected to reduce collisions by 30% and deaths by 20%.