Feeds

Motor quango thumbsup for satnav speed restrictions

Sorry Dave, I can't let you go that fast

Mobile application security vulnerability report

A new report from an influential quango looking into the idea of satnav speed governors for cars has come out in favour of such plans. The Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT), working with the Motorists' Forum, believes that useful safety gains and some carbon-emissions savings could be achieved by the use of the devices.

The joint report, now available online (pdf), investigates the use of different kinds of navigation and speed-limiting gear. It would be quite possible to build an "advisory" system, for instance, which would audibly or visually warn a driver when he or she was exceeding the local speed limit.

Active systems, by contrast, would actually have control over the accelerator, in much the same way that speed governors on heavy trucks already do - in this case preventing a car from getting above the local limit as determined by satnav. Under some proposals, intervention systems could be overridden at will by the driver; or their input could be mandatory.

According to the joint study, carried out by the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, the case for speed governing kit is clear-cut.

Carbon emissions savings would be slim but definitely present, resulting mainly from the reduction in people driving faster than 70mph on major roads. There would be appreciable fuel savings to motorists, apparently, owing to better efficiency gained by not going so fast on motorways and dual carriageways and less vigorous acceleration in stop/start driving. The researchers weren't sure, but they thought there could be some improvement in journey-time consistency, as seen in camera-enforced lowered speed limits schemes.

The main benefit, according to the report's authors, would come in the form of fewer accidents - particularly the most dangerous/fatal collisions and crashes. They said that 100 per cent adoption of mandatory speed governors would cut injury crashes by 29 per cent, with associated reductions in insurance premiums, traffic delays and public costs. Much of the benefit would be seen on 30mph roads, with many of the lives saved being those of pedestrians and cyclists.

The study says that motorists would benefit overall, with the extra cost of the governing kit more than paid back - largely in the form of reduced insurance premiums, but also in fuel savings. Government costs (regulating, inspecting etc) would also be recouped.

According to the CfIT statement:

We wish to make it clear that we are not recommending compulsory fitment or usage ...

However, we believe that the potential reductions in injury accidents that could be saved (at 100% penetration, overridable equipment would reduce the number of injury accidents by 12% and mandatory equipment by 29%) means that serious consideration should be given to the voluntary introduction of this technology.

The two bodies called for a further public debate, and seemed to suggest that speed-governor gear could soon become a standard option on most vehicles. Fleet owners (a few of whom already use it) would choose it for the fuel and safety benefits. Private owners might, in future, find that a car with overridable governors would win them a small insurance discount and one with mandatory kit a more substantial saving.

There were those opposed to the idea. Anti-speedcam group Safe Speed, which believes that "present policy is making the roads more dangerous" - flatly contradicting the CfIT report, which says they are safer than ever before - was sceptical about the benefits of governor technology, casting doubt on its performance in heavy good vehicles.

Claire Armstrong of Safe Speed told the BBC that truckers equipped with speed governors had gone into "zombie mode" on several occasions.

"That makes it highly dangerous in those scenarios. So you've taken the responsibility away from the driver and that is not [good] for road safety."

One point not raised in the report was that of privacy, records and so on. There would be no need for a satnav designed as a speed governor to keep any log of the vehicle's location or speed, but there could naturally be a temptation to combine such equipment with road-pricing or toll-enforcement capabilities. This would open up a privacy and surveillance issue.

The debate continues. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know
What do you mean, we've ditched Redmond in favour of IBM?!
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.