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Mandatory speed limiters on EU cars from 2024

All new vehicles sold in Europe – including Northern Ireland but not Great Britain – will be fitted with a mandatory speed limiter from 2024 to keep cars within the speed limits and boost road safety.

Nimisha Jain

Words by: Nimisha Jain

Published on 4 July 2024 | 0 min read

  • From 7 July 2024, all new cars will legally have to be fitted with a speed limiter in the EU
  • Great Britain will not be adopting the new speed limiting rules, however the rules will apply to Northern Ireland
  • Despite the speed limiters, the driver will still be responsible for adhering to the speed limits
All new cars that are launching or have been launched in the EU need to be fitted with an Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) by 7 July 2024 according to the 2019/2044 regulation by the European Commission. This means any existing unregistered cars on forecourts will have to be retrofitted with a speed limiter before they can be sold.
This mandate comes after the European Commission's legislation that made it a legal requirement for all new vehicles sold in Europe to be fitted with a speed limiter from 6 July 2022. The Department for Transport (DfT) has clarified that cars in Great Britain will not be affected by this new road safety regulation, however, this regulation will apply to cars in Northern Ireland. While this safety measure isn't being adopted in GB at the moment, the Department for Transport are constantly researching how transport users across all modes can benefit from the latest technology, ensuring journeys are safe, reliable, and cut emissions.

What is a speed limiter?

A speed limiter is a safety device that can be fitted in your car so that your vehicle doesn’t cross a certain speed set by you.
Unlike cruise control, which maintains a consistent speed throughout your journey to eliminate the use of the accelerator, a speed limiter allows you to accelerate and decelerate as you normally would, provided you don’t go above the speed limit you set. The purpose of a speed limiter is to act as a speed warning system as opposed to cruise control which helps prevent fatigue and makes long journeys easier. Related: How much is a fine for speeding?

How do speed limiters work?

The speed limiter technology, called Intelligent Speed Assistant (ISA) uses GPS data and/or traffic-sign-recognition cameras to determine the maximum speed allowed in an area. The system then limits the engine’s power and the vehicle’s speed to that limit.
The speed limiter will send haptic, audio, and visual warnings until you start driving within the speed limits. You can override the system by pressing hard on the accelerator, but the system will reactivate every time the car is started. Many manufacturers have already started including factory-fitted ISA in some of their cars such as Citroen, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Peugeot, Renault and Volvo. Renault Group also went a step further by limiting the top speed of all new Renault and Citroen cars to 112 mph to increase safety. All new cars, vans, trucks and buses will need to be fitted with an ISA. Motorcycles currently do not need a speed limiter because the existing ISA technology needs to be adapted for motorcycles.

Concerns related to the speed limiters

Various associations have pointed out that the warning signals for speeding can be annoying for the driver.
To tackle this, manufacturers will have four options to choose from to alert the driver when they’re speeding: 1. The driver’s foot will be gently pushed back 2. The speed control system will automatically reduce the propulsion power, but you can override the system easily by pushing the pedal again 3. The driver will be sent a flashing visual signal to point out you’re speeding. If you continue to drive over the limit, an audio cue will be activated; if you ignore this as well, both visual and audio cues will be used after which both cues will time-out 4. Similar to the third option, the driver will first be sent a visual cue. If you ignore it, the pedal will vibrate. If you keep ignoring the combined signals, they will eventually time out The regulation will assess the effectiveness of these different signals in December 2025 to figure out the best way forward. They will use anonymous data to find out the number of times cars were driven with the ISA switched off and on, number of times the ISA was set-off and overridden and the average time between the speed limiter being switched on and off. There are also concerns as to whether the current speed restrictor technology is sophisticated and advanced enough to work effectively. Forward-facing cameras with traffic-sign recognition technology are sometimes caught out, especially on motorways, or miss speed changes. Roadside vegetation can obscure road signs and lack of infrastructure such as speed limits not being signposted may fail the ISA from recognising the speed signals. Some people have also questioned the reliability and accuracy of the ISA – drivers have instanced where their car’s sat-nav system glitched and incorrectly assumed that the driver has taken the exit off the motorway while the driver was still on it. In such a case, if the car signals you to reduce speed from 70 to 30 mph wouldn’t be helpful. Other reported cases include, the speed limiter reading a slip road or other nearby roads’ speed limit and applying it to the road the driver was on. The European Commission has, however, clearly stated that, “the driver is always responsible for adhering to the relevant traffic rules and that the ISA system is a best-effort driver assistance system to alert the driver, whenever possible and appropriate”. So, the speed limiter technology is simply there to prevent ‘momentary lapses of concentration’ that could result in speeding. If you do end up breaking the speed limit, you’ll solely be held responsible for it.

Can you remove a speed limiter?

Currently, the regulation permits you to switch the speed limiter off. The ISA will, however, be enabled when you switch your car on again, so it can’t be permanently disabled.
Those chasing the thrill of higher top speeds, or looking for better fuel economy may look at modifying their cars by getting the speed limiter removed. However, if you try to exceed your car’s top speed, it can be dangerous and illegal if you cross the legal speed limits. Related: What is a speed awareness course and what to expect

Road traffic accident reduction

It is hoped the use of speed limiters will help to reduce road accidents. The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) – which has been pushing for the mandatory speed limiters – has said the move will reduce collisions by 30%. The European Commission has said the speed limiters (along with other measures included in the legislation) could prevent 140,000 serious road traffic injuries by 2038. Overall, it hopes to cut road deaths to zero by 2050.

Other measures included in the legislation

The new provisional EU regulations also include other compulsory safety equipment such as autonomous emergency braking, data loggers (black box technology), emergency stop signal, driver fatigue detection system, lane keep assist, built-in breathalysers which won’t let you start the car if you fail, and reversing sensors or cameras.
Several of these systems are widely available as standard on many new cars sold. An autonomous emergency braking system, for example, is required for a car to score the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety crash tests. Related: The technology making the roads safer