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Leeds University's Dr Oliver Carsten
"The car can't go faster than is permitted by the law"
 real 28k

Simon Montague reports for BBC News
"Speeding's one of the biggest killers on Britain's roads"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 4 January, 2000, 12:00 GMT
'Spy in the sky' targets speeders

speedo Zero option: A vehicle's speed is cut automatically

An electronic speed regulator which uses satellite signals to stop cars breaking limits could soon become compulsory in British vehicles

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is considering research into new technological advances as part of a package of measures which could see the controversial devices fitted to all cars within the next few years.

Government-funded researchers at Leeds University, working alongside the Motor Industry Research Association, have spent three years developing and testing a prototype speed control car aimed at reducing congestion and dramatically cutting accident figures.

Stiff opposition

But moves to introduce the "intelligent speed adapters" are likely to face stiff opposition from enthusiasts and motor manufacturers.

The device works by using global positioning satellites to pinpoint the vehicle's exact location.

A digital road map on board the vehicle then tells the car when it is exceeding the speed limit, allowing it to choke off the fuel supply if speed restrictions are breached.

A report based on trials commissioned by the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) is expected to recommend the system be phased in over a decade.

Safety campaigners say the device, which will cost around 200 to install, would cut road deaths by up to two thirds and reduce total road accident injuries by a third.

But Edmund King, executive director of RAC Foundation, the organisation's campaigning arm, said the measure would be unwelcome," he said.

"This scheme will be extremely expensive and extremely unpopular with motorists and the motor industry.

Speeding awareness

"For most motorists the best speed limit is their right foot. What we need to do is educate drivers about the dangers of speeding through awareness campaigns.

Policeman Cars would police themselves

"There are dangers with this kind of scheme. If all cars have speed limits controlled by satellite there will be a temptation for some drivers to drive at the limit."

The AA's head of road safety, Andrew Howard, described the device as an inevitable development that was "something worth having".

A spokesman for the DETR said the idea was only one of a number of safety measures being considered.

"The work that is being done is not complete, it will form part of a much wider package of measures looking at ways of making motoring and roads safer.

"Precisely what methods will be used have yet to be determined, but the picture of vehicles being spied on by satellites is a little misleading."

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See also:
04 Jan 00 |  UK
Watching me, watching you
04 Jan 00 |  UK
Satellites in the driving seat
23 Oct 98 |  UK
Go slow - whether you like it or not
01 Oct 98 |  UK
EU gets tough on car safety
25 Sep 99 |  UK Politics
Ministers urged to speed up transport reform

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