Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA)

Policy issued on 15/02/16 |
Intelligent Speed Adaptation

ISA uses global satellite positioning (GPS) and a digital map to establish a car’s location and what the speed limit is at that point on the road.

This information can be used to:

  • Tell the driver the speed limit through a display on the instrument panel (Advisory ISA)
  • Control the speed of the vehicle, if the driver so wishes (Discretionary ISA)
  • Automatically control the speed of the vehicle (Controlling ISA)

Once ISA is set to keep the car to the speed limit, it does not allow the driver to accelerate beyond it. The promise that speeding fines, penalty points and subsequent loss of licence will become things of the past is an attractive proposition. In the UK alone, millions of motorists are fined and given penalty points for speeding every year. Trials are underway in several countries and a team from the University of Leeds and the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) has found that the system could achieve significant reductions in road crash deaths and injuries.

IAM RoadSmart recommendations

  • IAM RoadSmart support the implementation of advisory ISA to alert drivers to changes in speed limits
  • The more complex, ‘discretionary’, version, which a driver can switch on or off, should be offered as an optional extra on new cars
  • IAM RoadSmart do not support mandatory fitting of full control ISA at the current time
  • Full Control ISA needs basic safeguards built in from the outset such as 100 per cent reliability of equipment and speed limit mapping, and failsafe mechanisms for when they go wrong
  • More studies are needed on driver behaviour in ISA controlled cars, for example;
    1. Do drivers keep their foot firmly on the accelerator, secure in the knowledge that they cannot exceed the maximum permitted speed?
    2. Do drivers rely on the ISA system and fail to drop their speed when conditions require?
    3. Do drivers place themselves at risk if they are unable to accelerate out of trouble?
  • The most effective approach will be a gradual introduction over many years to build public support and dispel any ‘Big Brother’ fears over external controls. IAM RoadSmart members believe that a well trained driver will never need such a system but new drivers or those with a poor crash record may benefit most from it
  • Most fatal crashes take place on rural roads and enhanced ISA systems which can locate bad bends, deal with bad weather and highlight local dangers would make an even greater contribution to accident reduction

Information on the UK ISA trials can be found here.

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