Leeds University is monitoring 80 vehicles fitted with an intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) unit, which uses satellite navigation to record where a car is and at what speed it should be travelling.
If the driver exceeds the speed limit, the system will apply the brakes and the accelerator will be rendered useless until the limit has been reached. The Government has allocated £2 million for the study, part of which will go towards the trial which runs for two years.
Department for Transport (DfT) spokeswoman Ciara Woodley, said: '£2 million has been allocated for the whole scheme, not just for the four sets of trials. This covers the cost of developing the car, mapping software and research into driver behaviour.'
Despite the trials going ahead, Woodley said that the DfT has no plans to impose the scheme.
'We leave it to the industry to respond, if there is a public demand, then the industry would deal with it. We wouldn't force the industry to change.'
Leeds is becoming a hub of development for ground-breaking initiatives to control traffic. Last year, hundreds of businesses in the city were asked to commit their fleets to one of the first public trials of congestion charging systems in the country. Leeds City Council is helping the Department for Transport run the project, known as the Demonstration of Interoperable Road User End to End Charging and Telematics Systems (DIRECTS).
About 600 volunteer drivers will take part, helping researchers look at the feasibility of an electronic system for charging drivers to use busy roads. It is intended to help all local authorities interested in setting up their own local charging schemes by developing a national standard.
Work on the project is also expected to help with the development of a distance-based road-user charging scheme for lorries planned for 2005/2006. Leeds City Council insisted the trial of the scheme did not mean it was planning to push ahead with congestion charging in the city.
It comes as technology firm Cyclops launches a new anti-speeding device which warns drivers if they exceed the speed limit. Using satellite navigation, Cyclops tracks a vehicle's position against a database holding information on national speed limits, warning drivers if they are speeding, if there are nearby accident blackspots, or if there are speed cameras in the area.