EC to impose two road safety laws that don’t necessarily work

Published 27 March 2019

In an announcement yesterday, the EC revealed that it intends to ‘direct’ that all new cars sold in Europe from 2022 are fitted with autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Also that all new cars are saddled with ‘Intelligent Speed Assist’ (ISA) that uses GPS to artificially limit the speed a car can be driven to the relevant local limit.

Road Safety campaigners have been applauding all of this, but we at not only see some flaws but are deeply suspicious of the agenda.

Autonomous Emergency Braking is great in theory. If a driver suffers a sudden illness or is too stupid to brake, the AEB stops the car in an emergency situation.

But there have been many cases of false alarms where a bird has flown across in front of a car, or a discarded crisp packet has been detected by the radar and the car’s brakes slammed on.  

Not every driver in the cars behind these cars have been able to react fast enough.

And the radar is often placed behind the centre of the front bumper. It only takes some antisocial moron with a fixed towbar to reverse into it and the owner can be in for repairing £1,000 of damage.

‘Intelligent Speed Assist’ was trialled several years ago in the UK in Skodas and a glaring problem became apparent that the test drivers were warned to keep quiet about.

Any GPS speed control system relies on mapping. Any traffic sign recognition system relies on the system recognising the traffic signs. 

In the ISA trial, a car could be driving along a motorway at 70mph when it passed under a bridge carrying a local road restricted to 30mph. GPS can’t think three dimensionally, so, to the horror of the driver, the ISA slammed his brakes on.

Furthermore, anyone driving a car fitted with camera-based traffic sign recognition knows that the cameras don’t always spot the limit or the de-restriction signs. Failure rate is between 10% and 20%.

These systems are simply not reliable enough to be relied upon to save lives.

In an anti-corruption move the European Parliament recently passed a motion compelling all meetings between EC commissioners and manufacturer lobbyists to be fully reported in detail.

We at would like to see the detailed minutes of the meetings about AEB and ISA.

20 30 40 Limits Within 50 Metres (1)



   on 27 March 2019

I wonder if the Autonomous Braking System would a) force a tailgaiting car from approaching too near the rear of the car in front - set at the Highway Code stopping distance range, by braking the following car and b) whether if a car is overtaken and "cut up" or passed virtually in the same lane by the overtaking car, the car so overtaken will be automatically braked?

Mixing Autonomous braking cars amongst those not so fitted could be rather interesting. I see quite a few cars in front of me, following (tailgaiting in some instances) other cars in a queue with their brake lights going on and off frequently, and wonder if the driver of that car is letting the auto system do the braking for them rather than staying clear of the car in front by using their brake pedal?

I also wonder why Volvo are contemplating setting a top speed of 115mph when the max in the UK is 70mph, surely now a max speed of 75mph is all that is needed.

Not much point in buying GT versions of your 1.0 litre Eco engines now is there..?


hissingsid    on 27 March 2019

Two more steps down the slippery slope to driverless cars.

flumff    on 27 March 2019

My car already has a speed limt recognition system.
Its called a driver!

John Robert Savage    on 27 March 2019

My current car has Autonomous Emergency Braking and the option to turn on Intelligent Speed Limitation.

I have had no problems with Autonomous Braking. But the ISL does not always 'see' changes in speed limits and in particular on a road that has the limit reduced from 40 to 30 the system appears to be overridden by the GPS map data that still believes the limit to be 40MPH.

On the M25 in roadworks with a mandatory 50MPH limit the system worked well but as the overhead gantries were set at 60MPH the system kept switching from 50 to 60 then back to 50 every time we passed the appropriate sign.

If ISA or ISL is to work effectivly maintenance of road signs and trimming of hedges etc will have to improve.

Note that my ISL system does not automatically slow the car if I enter a speed limit but will prevent accelerating past the limit unless you push down hard on the accelerator.

Zippy123    on 28 March 2019

GPS does work in 3d, as long as there is sight of 3 or more satellites.

My car's system also shows longitude, latitude and height above sea level if the maps are off.

It is likely that the mapping data does not include heights which is causing the problems.

I have both camera and map based speed limit warnings. Both are prone to errors.

The camera ones alarmingly pick up signs from side roads (see the slip road on the M25 just after the Dartford crossing southbound. The M25 at that point is 60MPH and the slip road is 30. It also picks up lorries with the 110 roundel on the back!

AntF    on 29 March 2019

‘Intelligent Speed Assist’ was trialled several years ago in the UK in Skodas and a glaring problem became apparent that the test drivers were warned to keep quiet about.

Where is the evidence for this claim? These sort of statements need some kind of proof. I dare say any test drivers for any manufacturer are subject to confidentiality agreements to protect the product from industrial espionage. As written it sounds like some kind of cover-up.

Any new tech needs to be tested and will be refined I am sure, but the base rate of collisions will probably be improved by this sort of technology as most drivers are just not very good.

MartinSch    on 29 March 2019

Don't use false negatives to discredit a system which intends to save lives. In other words: if your sign recognition system misses 2% of the 30mph signs and allows you to drive at 40, that only means you might get a speeding ticket. It does not change the fact that is has possibly prevented many accidents.

Also, don't use glitches in early systems to discredit an idea. With thousands of vehicles monitoring routes, the problems experienced by Skodas several years ago will most probably be moot by now.

Rob Pollock    on 29 March 2019

All these new 'safety measures' have to be a good thing, helping the driver concentrate on their mobile phone and not having to worry about their driving is a step in the right direction.

pab107    on 5 May 2019

About once a month my wife’s VW Caravelle does an emergency stop after misinterpreting the traffic situation, sometimes from 60 MPH. This terrifies everyone in the car, and I’m sure those behind. After a couple of near misses where those behind almost hit us this un-safety system remains switched off. I think I would be minded to take the fuse out if the system was permanently on in a new car as it creates more likelihood of an accident than it does safety. They also seem to go wrong often and are very expensive to fix which I think is HJ’s point.

Edited by pab107 on 05/05/2019 at 13:06

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