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Company drivers target of new speed limiter proposals

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Company drivers will be the first to have speed limiters fitted to their vehicles if the government adopts the suggestions of a new report.

The report was produced by the Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT), which advises the government on road and transport options, and the Motorists' Forum (MF).

It said it would be critical to target company vehicles first.

“The government should engage with employers to ensure they are aware of the overall benefits of an intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) and consider the fitment and use of this technology within their duty of care and work related road safety policies."

ISA works by comparing the local speed limit to a vehicle’s speed.

The system can then either advise the driver when the vehicle is exceeding the speed limit with an audible or visual warning or, more controversially, control the maximum speed through an over-ridable or mandatory speed limiting function that the driver cannot override.

The report recommended that “fleet operators and vehicle rental companies should be appraised of the benefits of ISA and encouraged to introduce ISA into their own fleets”.

The report’s findings were endorsed by a working group, which was chaired by John Lewis, BVRLA director general.

The authors said: “We believe that this report is an important one, deserving of serious consideration.

"It is also timely as DfT has now started preparing a new road safety strategy, looking ahead to the targets it should aim for beyond 2010 and given that the UK Climate Change Act 2008 and the EU Climate and Energy Package will both set ambitious and legally binding targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions.”

The report found that overall reductions in CO2 emissions “are not very significant on roads with a speed limit of 60mph or lower”.

But on 70mph roads, there is potential for a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions of 5.8% with a mandatory ISA system.

The most beneficial side to the ISA system is its potential impact on future accident numbers, particularly on the more severe crashes, said the report.

“A 100% usage of mandatory ISA could save nearly 29% of injury accidents.”

The greatest reduction in crashes would be on 30mph roads where there is considerable propensity to exceed the speed limit and crashes involving collisions with pedestrians and cyclists.

However, there would be opposition to the introduction of mandatory speed limiters, as chairman of ACFO, the car fleet operators’ association, Julie Jenner said: "Notifying the driver that they are travelling in excess of the legal speed limit is no bad thing and we know that there are definite advantages in doing this - flashing speed signs and notices through rural areas bear this out.

“However, the separate issue of speed being controlled via a system that cannot be overridden by the driver needs to have all of the implications carefully considered before implementation.”

Ms Jenner also asks why company drivers should be the first to be targeted.

“Whilst I accept that more accidents occur whilst driving on business, this is because more people drive on business than for personal use,” she said.

“However, this group is typically amongst some of the safest on the road, especially following the introduction of numerous duty of care obligations and the Corporate Manslaughter Act that have culminated in many safer driving programmes being implemented by organisations.

“If ISA is going to be successful we need to adopt a consultative approach to get drivers on board and inform them of the benefits, for example reduced fuel usage and of course the potential to reduce accidents, rather than waving a big stick at them - again!"

The report suggests the biggest benefits of ISa would be achieved with a mandatory system which would not allow a driver to exceed the limit.

“Advisory ISA is predicted to be substantially less effective than the intervention-based (over-ridable and mandatory) forms of ISA," it said.

In addition, it found that in less than 15 years, under virtually every scenario, the cost of introducing an ISA system would be recovered.

“The report confirms the prediction of substantial benefits from the introduction of ISA,” concludes the report.

“These benefits consist principally of the savings in accidents, mainly on urban and rural roads, and in particular in more severe accidents.

"Some emissions reductions are also delivered, although these are not significant on roads with a speed limit of 60mph or lower."

The report also shows that the costs of ISA - both to drivers and to the public purse - are "substantially less than the benefits in the form of accident savings, fuel savings and CO2 reductions.”

However, there is likely to be widespread opposition to the introduction of and ISA system.
IAM director of research and policy Neil Greig cautioned that motorists may resist a system that dictates how fast they can drive.

"ISA may be able to ensure that all cars observe speed limits, provided that critical safety conditions are met and tested.

"However, even with these assurances, an understandable deep-rooted concern about 'Big Brother' will have to be overcome."

Mr Greig added that the report found that fleet managers showed a “general lack of support, as they did not believe that exceeding speed limits necessarily reduced a driver's safety”.

Appreciating there will be resistance to ISA, the report recommends that government departments should lead by example.

“The Department for Transport should look at opportunities to equip its own fleet with ISA and act as a champion with other government departments and public bodies,” said the report.

“Its role as a champion should focus on engaging government departmental support for the concept and encouraging departments and agencies with large workplace driving activity to implement ISA in their vehicle fleets.”




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