The “intelligent speed assistance” technology would be one of several innovations introduced in a bid to spur a “big leap forward” in road safety if voted through by the European parliament.
Other systems mandated by the proposed rules include automated emergency braking and electronic data recorders designed to “store vital data on the car’s status in the moments immediately before a collision”, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) said.
Automatic braking technology is intended to detect cyclists and pedestrians. All mandatory systems will be fitted to cars, vans, buses and lorries.
The “final shape” of the proposed rules, hashed out by the European Commission, parliament and EU member states’s representatives, was agreed on Monday night, said the ETSC’s executive director, Antonio Avenoso.
In a statement, he added: “There have only been a handful of moments in the last 50 years which could be described as big leaps forward for road safety in Europe.
“The mandatory introduction of the seat belt was one, and the first EU minimum crash safety standards, agreed in 1998, was another.
“If last night’s agreement is given the formal green light, it will represent another of those moments, preventing 25,000 deaths within 15 years of coming into force.”
However, the body warned that holding a vote on the plans could take “several more months” due to upcoming European parliament elections in May. Individual countries must also approve them.
Intelligent speed assistance works through video cameras that recognise speed limit signs, or a computer using GPS “to advise drivers of the current speed limit and automatically limit the speed of the vehicle as needed” by adjusting engine power, not applying the brakes, the ETSC’s website said.
However, motorists will be able to override the system.
Edmund King, the president of the AA, said he welcomed such technology as automated emergency brakes, but told The Times that he believed smart speed limiters “can be problematic when you suddenly switch from a 40 to a 30mph zone and there is a taxi right on your tail”.
“Quickly slowing down isn’t always the wise thing to do,” he told the paper.
The ETSC’s scheme also includes new rules on sight lines for lorry drivers, and a plan for more easily fitting devices that prevent drink-driving into vehicles.
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