With EU legislation requiring ‘speed limiters’ to be fitted to new cars, how can they increase the price of your car… but save you a bundle on insurance?

With EU legislation requiring ‘speed limiters’ to be fitted to new cars, how can they increase the price of your car… but save you a bundle on insurance?
With EU legislation requiring ‘speed limiters’ to be fitted to new cars, how can they increase the price of your car… but save you a bundle on insurance?

A fun day out driving? First, automatic cars killed the art of rolling, then silent electric vehicles destroyed the satisfying va-va-voom of engines.

And now this week, new speed-limiting technology will go into effect, bombarding drivers with beeps, vibrations or other alerts when speed limits are high.

The technology has been made mandatory on all new cars in the EU and is also likely to be fitted to most cars sold in the UK.

Campaigners hope it will go some way to reducing collisions on British roads. But will the system benefit your wallet down the road? Or will the high costs of repairing complex software end up breaking the bank?

The rules, which came into force on Sunday, require manufacturers to install the Intelligent Speed ​​Assist (ISA) system in all new cars in the EU.

How does a ‘speed limiter’ work?

Intelligent Speed ​​Assist (ISA) is a speed limiting technology that uses GPS and camera data to scan for road signs to confirm the speed limit. It then alerts drivers when they reach there.

The system alerts drivers in one or more of these ways: by making a sound, by vibrating the steering wheel and by adding pressure through the accelerator pedal or cruise control, which can reduce engine power to bring the vehicle up to the legal speed limit. However, the driver can override this by pressing the accelerator.

Manufacturers only need to include one of these options to pass the regulation, so in theory the car is equipped with only one audible warning.

Drivers are still in control of the vehicle, but the system is designed to prompt and encourage drivers to slow down if they exceed the speed limit, a spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

The driver can override the technology. Drivers can also turn off the assistance, but this must be done every time the engine is started.

Stuart Mason, editor of The Car Expert, said: ‘I don’t think this will make the roads safer. If you go a mile an hour over the speed limit, you’ll be bombarded by the system. This is something no police officer will stop you from doing. But the speed limit is important.’

ISA uses GPS and camera data to scan road signs to confirm speed limits. It then warns drivers when they reach them, and if they don’t slow down, the system can proactively reduce engine power to bring the car up to the legal speed limit.

The rules, which came into force on Sunday, require manufacturers to install this “speed-limiting technology” in all new cars in the EU.

There is no UK government mandate to install the system in all new cars in the UK, but road safety groups are lobbying the new government to introduce similar legislation.

Jack Cousens, the AA’s director of road policy, added: “Although ISA is not mandatory in the UK, many new cars will be sold with this technology.” The RAC said it would be an unnecessary cost to production if manufacturers deliberately omitted the feature on UK models.

BMW, Citroen and Ford are among those that have pledged to introduce the system to all UK models from this month.

Some UK cars are already fitted with the system. An analysis of manufacturers by This Is Money shows that the majority of UK car model makers either have ISA, are introducing it in new models or plan to adopt it in the future.

The European Transport Safety Council recommends technologies to help achieve the goal of zero road deaths by 2050.

Existing cars do not need to be equipped with this technology or for drivers to use it – only new cars must have it.

Will ISA increase car prices?

New technology will increase costs, but it will be up to individual manufacturers to pass this on to consumers.

Simon Williams, head of policy at the RAC, said: “It will obviously affect the cost of a car, but probably not massively.” A study completed more than five years ago initially estimated the system would cost around £2,000. But equipment such as cameras are now fitted to cars so the cost to manufacturers is considered negligible.

It is not mandatory to add the system to existing cars and is usually only available on new cars.

It is possible for ISAs to modernize, but Williams said the cost of doing so could be high.

Will insurance and repairs increase?

Motorists have struggled with the rising cost of the driving crisis in recent years, with insurance premiums projected to rise by 34 percent between 2022 and the end of 2023. ISA’s technology can help reduce premiums in the long term.

“If you stop people from crashing, insurance premiums will go down,” Mr. Williams said.

If ISA technology were to prevent speeding offences, it could, in theory, prevent drivers’ annual insurance premiums from rising by hundreds of pounds.

The minimum penalty for speeding is three penalty points on your licence and a £100 fine. According to 2022 data from insurer Admiral, premiums rose by 40 per cent for drivers with three speeding points.

According to data from the Association of British Insurers, the average annual premium for comprehensive car insurance is £635. Annual payments can rise to £889 for someone with three points on their licence.

However, Cousens does not believe the technology will have a significant impact on insurance premiums. But he said ISA technology would mean drivers would have to shell out more for repair costs.

The average cost of repairing a car after a collision will increase thanks to sophisticated driver assistance technology.

“Even low-impact collisions can affect the sensors on the front bonnet. They need to be checked and recalibrated. The more cars you get, the cheaper they will be,” said Mr Cousens.

Nicholas Lys, from road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, says the days of fixing a bonnet for £30 to £40 are over because there are so many systems behind the car’s bodywork.

But Lys said that over time, the safer system is expected to cause fewer collisions, which will make repair costs cheaper.

It will also take some time for the added benefits of safer roads to filter through to insurance premiums, he says.

‘Even if you have the technology, other drivers on the road may not have it, who won’t see the full benefits. It has been passed on to many vehicles. Repair costs should come down over time.’

Williams added: “The more complex the cars are, the more expensive they are to repair.”

“It will take years for the benefits of the technology to outweigh its costs. It will make our roads safer in the long term.”

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