ISA system in the 2015 Ford Galaxy

Intelligent Speed Assistance specifications officially published

  • November 17, 2021

The world’s first regulatory standard for Intelligent Speed Assistance technology has been published in the official journal of the European Union, the final legal step before mandatory fitment in new types of vehicle from next July.

ETSC is calling on vehicle manufacturers to go beyond the minimum requirements of the legislation to maximise the huge potential safety benefits of the technology.

By next year, the European Union will have, by far, the most stringent vehicle safety standards in the world with systems including Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB), Emergency Lane Keeping Assist (ELKS), drowsiness and distraction recognition and Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) all mandatory.  By 2024 every new car sold in the EU will need to be fitted with these technologies.

The requirements allow for several different types of ISA system to be fitted.  By law, every type of system must be overridable, and allow the driver to switch the system off for the duration of the current journey.

The most effective and appreciated systems, already available since 2015 on several vehicles, assist drivers by cutting engine power once the legal speed limit has been reached.  The driver can override the system by pushing further down on the accelerator pedal.  Systems that intervene in this way, could reduce road deaths by 20%.

However, following strong and sustained industry pressure, the EU is also allowing a system to be fitted for which no research is available and which is expected to be much less effective.  The most basic system allowed simply features an audible warning that starts a few moments after the vehicle exceeds the speed limit and continues for a maximum of five seconds.  ETSC says research shows audible warnings are annoying to drivers, and therefore are more likely to be switched off.  A system that is deactivated has no safety benefit.

However, the requirements state that carmakers will have to report aggregate, anonymous data on how ISA systems are being used, and if they are being switched off by drivers.  Two years after the legislation comes into force, it should be possible to see, based on real-world data, which systems are most effective.  That will be a good opportunity to learn and react to improve the technology in the future.