Anti-Speeding Tech Gains Approval Among Drivers

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A recent survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveals that over 60% of drivers would support their vehicle providing audible and visual warnings when exceeding the speed limit. Surprisingly, about half are also open to technology that makes the accelerator pedal harder to press or automatically restricts speed.

Key Highlights:

  • Support for Warnings: More than 60% of drivers are in favor of audible and visual speed warnings.
  • Acceptance of Speed Restriction: Approximately 50% are open to more intrusive speed control measures.
  • Impact of Speeding: Speeding contributes to over a quarter of U.S. traffic fatalities, with more than 12,000 deaths in 2022.
  • Potential for Change: Findings suggest drivers are willing to adopt technology to improve road safety.

IIHS President David Harkey commented, “These findings are exciting because they suggest American drivers are willing to change how they drive to make our roads safer.” This challenges the conventional wisdom that speed-restricting technology would be unpopular in the U.S.

Speeding remains a significant issue, with nearly half of drivers admitting to exceeding the speed limit by at least 15 mph in the past month. “We can no longer pretend this is an unsolvable problem,” said IIHS Senior Research Scientist Ian Reagan. He designed the survey on intelligent speed assistance (ISA) to explore drivers’ attitudes towards various speed control technologies.

ISA systems use GPS and speed limit databases, sometimes combined with cameras, to identify and adapt to actual speed limits. These systems can provide warnings, make the accelerator harder to press, or restrict engine power to prevent speeding. Starting next month, the European Union will require new vehicles to have ISA systems that give audible or visual warnings.

To understand American drivers’ perspectives on ISA, Reagan surveyed 1,802 drivers. Respondents were divided into groups based on the type of ISA: advisory warnings, accelerator feedback, or restricted acceleration.

The survey results were promising. 64% of respondents in the warning group, 50% in the accelerator feedback group, and 52% in the restricted acceleration group found the ISA acceptable. Over 80% of all drivers wanted a feature displaying the current speed limit, and more than 70% supported an unobtrusive tone for speed changes.

Despite these findings, there is a preference for advisory systems over those that intervene. Nearly 60% of drivers in the advisory group found automatic ISA activation acceptable, compared to 51% in the accelerator feedback group and 48% in the speed limiter group. Furthermore, 65% of advisory group drivers would want ISA in their next car if most other vehicles had it.

Around 70% of drivers would accept ISA if insurance premiums were lowered based on non-speeding evidence. Acceptance also increased when ISA intervened at 10 mph over the limit rather than 1-2 mph.

The EU’s standards require warnings to start when a vehicle matches the speed limit for six seconds and within 1.5 seconds when exceeding the limit by any amount. The survey indicates such standards might lead more U.S. drivers to deactivate the feature.

Frequent speeders were 20% less likely to accept ISA, but both frequent and occasional speeders showed similar willingness to keep the feature if their vehicle had it. Overall, about half of the drivers in the accelerator feedback and speed limiter groups would frequently override the feature.

A federal mandate could enhance ISA acceptance. Research shows drivers fear annoying others by driving slowly, but they are more likely to accept ISA if it becomes common. U.S. regulators could improve the appeal by incorporating design elements allowing higher tolerances on highways and stricter thresholds in pedestrian areas.

“This technology enables nuanced interventions that were never possible in the past,” Harkey said. “The next challenge is to encourage automakers and drivers to embrace it so we can begin saving lives.”

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