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Your New Car Could Soon Come with a “Speed Limiter”

Close up to car's dashboard showing a big

If you have the need for speed, you may have to curb your enthusiasm if Ford’s new speed-limiting technology takes European roads by storm. Could this possibly mean that U.S. roads aren’t far behind?

Automatically prevents drivers from speeding

Imagine for a moment a feature, dubbed Intelligent Speed Limiter, that automatically prevents drivers from exceeding posted speed limits. Well, such a feature recently made its debut on the Ford S-Max in Europe and a mass grumbling could be heard from lead foots throughout the continent.

Owners of exotic sports and luxury cars built for speed feel it’s just one more intrusion on their driver control and pleasure of getting behind the wheel. However, those who diligently drive at or below the speed limit – no matter what the flow of traffic is moving at – may feel a false sense of safety as everyone traveling side by side at exactly the same speed could actually increase their risk of an accident rather than reduce it.

Similar to cruise control except car sets your speed

The technology is very similar to the cruise control in today’s vehicles except for one thing – your car will set your speed, not you. According to engineers, the feature enables drivers to manually set and adjust a maximum vehicle speed – for now. But, the camera mounted at the front of the car, which recognizes and reads speed-limit signs along your route could become mandatory, automatically adjusting your car’s throttle to match the speed limit.

While drivers can temporarily override the system by “firmly” pressing on the accelerator, according to Ford, the system does not apply the brakes, so you would still have to focus on driving. The purpose of the override is to give drivers some leeway, allowing them to choose a speed that’s as much as 5 miles per hour above the detected limit.

Technology may be hard sell in U.S.

Of course, that provides very little solace for drivers who take their automotive privacy seriously and enjoy the freedom of the open road. Needless to say, this type of intrusive technology would likely be a hard sell here in the United States.

And, although the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has expressed concerns about rising speed limits over the past 20 years and would undoubtedly endorse such a program to reduce highway deaths, a Ford spokesperson announced the company had no immediate plans to bring the Intelligent Speed Limiter to U.S. vehicles.

So, before you lose any sleep over the prospect of “Big Brother” controlling one more aspect of your life, take note – the standards for road signs in Europe and America differ as much as  their roads and highways. Furthermore, the number of speed-camera programs in the U.S. remains very low while law enforcement officials have deployed more than 35,000 of these cameras across Europe.

To speed or not to speed

For the time being, the decision to speed or not to speed rests entirely with the driver. But, nothing’s to say that car insurance companies won’t require such a monitor in the future. It could also catch on with drivers who want to avoid incurring hefty fines by unintentionally exceeding the speed limit to keep their auto insurance rates low.

And, that could include you.

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