Minister hints at opposition to plans for new vehicle controls, claiming ‘I don’t care what the EU does’
The UK must not enact European legislation requiring all new cars to be fitted with smart speed limiters, Cabinet Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has indicated.
From July, all new cars sold in Europe must be equipped with Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) technology, which can detect local speed limits and apply them to the vehicle.
Earlier, the government’s Vehicle Certification Agency, which approves cars for use in the UK, said it would issue the same regulation.
However, the Brexit Opportunities Minister suggested MPs fight against its introduction, claiming in Whitehall: “It’s not policy that has received a collective agreement”.
Asked by the House of Commons European Audit Committee about reports that the government was planning a consultation on mandatory ISA schemes, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I see we are thinking – and I had better be careful because this could be government policy I don’t want to interfere too much with collective responsibility – putting speed limiters in people’s cars because the EU is doing it.
“Because the EU is doing it, that’s no argument for doing anything further.”
Intelligent speed assistants are already built into many modern cars and use traffic sign recognition and/or GPS location data to determine local speed limits. There can then be a visual or audible alarm and also limit engine power to prevent the car from accelerating past that limit.
The system can be overridden by hard pressure on the accelerator and the European Transport Safety Council, which has proposed making ISA mandatory, has suggested that there should first be an on/off control to fully disable it deactivate.
Safety groups have welcomed the proposed technology, but there are concerns about the reliability of such systems, particularly in areas with temporary speed changes or confusing signage.
AA President Edmund King told the Telegraph: “The speed limits have to be absolutely accurate because the car reacts to the speed limit. If you have the wrong speed limit in the digital system, it can slow you down to the wrong speed or allow you to accelerate to the wrong speed.”
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, warned that a departure from Europe on vehicle safety measures would be “bad for the industry”.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The UK’s exit from the EU provides us with the platform to benefit from our regulatory freedoms.
“We are currently reviewing the vehicle safety provisions contained in the EU Safety Regulations and will implement requirements that are appropriate for the UK and improve road safety.”