Intelligent technology: reducing speeding and saving lives

Academics: Professor O. Carsten,  Dr S. Jamson,  Dr F. Tate, Dr F. Lai, Dr K. Chorlton, Dr P. Goodman and Professor S. Hess, Faculty of Environment

Leeds research has demonstrated that in-vehicle intelligent speed assistance (ISA) can dramatically reduce injury and fatality risk, imposing lasting influence on the safety features of new cars.

Research by Leeds suggests that the mandatory use of a supportive ISA system could bring about a reduction in fatal crashes of up to 50%.

The World Health Organisation estimates that each year 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes and 50 million people injured. Research indicates that the more severe the crash, the more likely it is that driver speed is a contributory factor. Despite the introduction of speed-calming measures, such as speed cameras, many drivers continue to speed.

ISA systems constantly monitor vehicle speed and local speed limits. Informative ISA systems advise drivers to slow down if they are speeding, whilst supportive systems prevent them from accelerating beyond the limit. Leeds researchers undertook on-road studies to examine the impacts of ISA on driver behaviour. They found that ISA significantly reduces drivers’ propensity to speed so would have a substantial impact on serious injuries and fatalities. A large-scale trial by Leeds, which logged 400,000 miles of driving, showed ISA to be highly positive in cost-benefit terms and that all drivers, including those with a tendency to speed, had their behaviour improved by ISA.

Influencing the car of the future 

Informed by the Leeds findings, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) took a significant step in promoting the large-scale deployment of ISA by awarding extra points to new vehicles fitted with ISA systems from 2013. ISA is one of only three systems with a proven contribution to crash avoidance and injury prevention given extra points. Although a voluntary scheme, Euro NCAP greatly influences consumers and manufacturers act quickly to comply with new requirements.

Shaping policy – road safety, environment and transport

Leeds’ body of evidence has led national, European and international policy-makers to advocate ISA adoption. In 2013, the EU announced that it was actively considering compulsory ISA deployment in new light and heavy trucks, citing Leeds research.

The UK Sustainable Development Commission used Leeds analysis of the effects of ISA on CO2 emissions to recommend that the government accelerate the widespread introduction of ISA in order to help reduce the carbon footprint of transport by lowering speeds and making motoring more fuel-efficient.  

Funder: Department for Transport