'Spy' under hood could stop speeding
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'Spy' under hood could stop speeding

London Evening Standard | September 23 2004

Speed limiters could be fitted to cars in London under radical plans backed by the Mayor.

The electronic under-bonnet "spy" would make it impossible to exceed legal limits over the entire capital.

The satellite-controlled black box would "know" the maximum permitted speed at all points along a car's journey and prevent motorists from going too fast by limiting the response from the accelerator.

The tough new measure, in Transport for London's Draft Road Safety Action Plan, was unveiled at the Pan-London Road Safety Forum today.

The plan calls for speed limiters be fitted initially to public service vehicles such as buses and taxis. This would dramatically reduce average speeds across the capital by forcing other vehicles to fall in line.

However, experts at Transport for London's Road Safety Unit also want motorists to be encouraged to fit the limiters through incentive schemes.

Motorists can take their cars to a garage to have the limiter fitted for less than ?150. In return, they would be offered cheaper insurance because they would be deemed a lower risk.

But experts believe the scheme could become mandatory and all motorists would have to pay to have their cars fitted with the device.

Chris Lines, head of the unit, told the Standard: "Proposals for the limiter will be discussed today. We also want a study to look at the potential benefits of this scheme in London. It might also replace speed humps and speed cameras in due course."

In a statement today, Mayor Ken Livingstone confirmed his support for the scheme.

He said: "The use of speed limiters could save many lives in London. We must, however, ensure it is safe and the right solution for London."

Speed limiters are already fitted to some new cars voluntarily by manufacturers but must be set by the driver.

Today the AA warned that motorists would resist losing control over their cars.

But it said many motorists would welcome an "optional" limiter as they were confused by speed limits in London which frequently ranged from 20mph to 30, 40, 50 and 60mph.

"Drivers do not want to lose control taken altogether," said the AA's Paul Watters, head of roads and transport policy.

However, Jenny Jones, London Assembly Green Party spokeswoman, said: "We have to find a way of stopping speed-related injuries and deaths in London. If this technology works as well as we think it will, we have a duty to act quickly to stop the destruction of people's lives."

The Mayor and Transport for London will now consider the proposals in detail. Ministers are also looking for experts to compile a powerful digital "map" containing details of every speed limit in Britain.

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