It’s been confirmed that speed limiting technology and ‘black box’ data recorders are set to become mandatory on all new vehicles in the EU from 2022, with the UK’s Department for Transport confirming they will introduce the same rules, despite Brexit.
Yes, that’s right, ‘Nineteen eighty-four’ has now well and truly reached the motor industry, and it’s a terrifying prospect for us car enthusiasts. The ‘nanny state’ has been watching over every other aspect of your life for a good few years now, and from 2022 you won’t even be able to get out on the open road without the government interfering. ‘Intelligent Speed Assistance’ or ‘ISA’ systems will use GPS and in-car cameras scanning for speed limit signs to ensure you don’t stray over the designated limit, and data recorders will be watching your every move and reporting back to your insurance company should anything untoward happen. The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) are proposing that an override function be introduced ‘at first’, which would sound an audible warning should the driver dare to disobey their car. Bets on how long that will last?
So what does this mean for us car enthusiasts? Does this just give us one more reason to snap up a classic, or should we all give up now and accept that we’re heading towards 100% driverless cars whether we like it or not?
Our first thoughts here at The Car Investor were that older cars without these debilitating systems will be more sought after, and thus will retain their values for longer. But when we read into it more, it became clear that the mandatory ‘black boxes’ will likely ruin that for us as well. Insurance companies are going to love keeping an eye on you via the data loggers, and it’s not much of a stretch to imagine a time where they insist you retro-fit these systems to your pre-2022 car, and if you don’t, you can expect an annual insurance premium the size of a small house… or they’ll refuse to insure you altogether. Extra costs may be fine for those who can afford a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, but what about the average motorist with a penchant for something a little more exciting? You and I will be priced out of our passion, and forced to trundle around town in a Qashqai or the latest Citroen ‘crossover’.
Then we thought about the actual practicalities of using this sort of system on the road. As you well know, the driver is the best person to control their vehicle as long as they’re not distracted, drunk, or a hooligan, and there are plenty of scenarios in which this sort of system will cause accidents. Overtaking a slow moving vehicle usually involves being on the wrong side of the road, and this is not a good place to be. The vast majority of us, in this instance, will put our foot down to get back onto the correct side of the road as quickly as possible. Not any more. Overtaking a tractor on a 40mph road? You’ll have to trundle past them at 40 I’m afraid. A car heading towards you? Sorry, on-board computer says this is a 40mph road so you’d better close your eyes and pray, or drive into a hedge. There are similar issues with slip-roads, and various other scenarios where the driver knows better than a computer.
Our attention then turned to sports car manufacturers and track days. Imagine heading out to your local Aston Martin showroom, and choosing from a selection of the latest models that all have an artificially limited top speed of 70mph. This spells disaster for all of our favourite manufacturers, unless they can come up with a way of getting around the legislation.
Many of us love taking our own cars to the track, but will the new restrictions kill track days? Or perhaps they will become mainstream as people become more and more desperate to satisfy their need for speed. It all depends on the technicalities behind removing the limiters.
So, is this doomsday or are we just being over-dramatic? If you look at the track-record of governments around the world zapping the fun out of everything we do in life, and monitoring every move we make, then yes… this does seem to fall in line, and I think we can all agree that this is pretty bad news. And once these measures are in place, it’s unlikely there will ever be any going back. One thing is for sure though, people’s passion for cars will never die, and we’ll adapt however we can to continue indulging in our passion. Our biggest concerns here at The Car Investor are not only that we’ll never be able to buy a new car again after 2022 thanks to the ISA systems, but the potential for insurance companies, and perhaps governments, to eventually railroad us all into installing these systems in our beloved ‘driver-only’ cars, making our classics essentially undriveable on the roads as we know them.
Thanks, ETSC. Because it’s always speed that kills isn’t it, never stupidity.