Most US Drivers Would Welcome Anti-Speeding Technology In Vehicles: IIHS

More than 60 per cent of US drivers would find it acceptable if their vehicle provided audible and visual warnings when they exceeded the posted speed limit, according to a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) survey.

Additionally, about half of surveyed drivers said that they wouldn’t mind vehicle technology that makes the accelerator pedal harder to press or automatically restricts speed.

“These findings are exciting because they suggest American drivers are willing to change how they drive to make our roads safer,” said David Harkey, President of the IIHS. “The conventional wisdom has always been that speed-restricting technology would never fly in our car-centric culture.”

However, in contrast to Harkey’s assertion, the survey also found that frequent speeders were 20 per cent less likely to accept intelligent speed assistance (ISA) systems than occasional or rare speeders, suggesting those who need it most might use it the least.

According to the IIHS, speed limiters have been around for several years, but the conventional type only allows one maximum setting. “That means that the few fleet operators and others who use them have to set the maximum at highway speeds, making them useless on the vast majority of US roads,” said the IIHS.

In contrast, ISA systems use GPS and a speed limit database, sometimes together with cameras capable of reading posted signs, to identify and adapt to the speed limit.

More robust ISA systems sound a warning or flash an alert when the driver exceeds the limit, or when they exceed it by more than a specific amount. Others provide accelerator feedback, making the pedal harder to push, or restrict power to the engine to prevent drivers from going too fast.

More than 80 per cent of all drivers in the IIHS survey agreed or strongly agreed that they would want a feature that displayed the current speed limit, while over 70 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that they would want an unobtrusive tone to sound when the speed limit changes. There was a clear preference for advisory systems over those that intervene to control the vehicle’s speed.

As of July 2024, the European Union will require all new vehicles to be equipped with ISA systems that at least give audible or visual warnings, though drivers will be able to turn the systems off. The IIHS said any version of ISA likely to be adopted in the US would also give drivers the option to switch it off, so it will only be beneficial to the extent that the public finds it acceptable.

The percentages of drivers who agreed that ISA would be acceptable to them increased if the feature intervened at 10 mph (16 km/h) over the posted limit, compared with one to two mph over. The standard set by the EU is not that liberal, requiring warnings to start when the vehicle speed matches the speed limit for six seconds, and after 1.5 seconds when the vehicle exceeds the posted limit by any amount. The survey results suggest that if the US adopted the same standard, more drivers would switch off the feature.

Another impediment to widespread acceptance is that past research shows drivers worry about irritating other motorists if they travel slowly, but the surveyed drivers were more likely to embrace ISA if most other vehicles had it.

The survey also found that around 70 per cent of drivers agreed they would want ISA in their next car if their insurance company lowered premiums based on evidence that they don’t speed.

According to the IIHS, speed is a factor in more than a quarter of US traffic fatalities, amounting to over 12,000 deaths in 2022, the latest available data. About half of drivers admit to travelling at least 15 mph (24 km/h) over the limit in the past month, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.