Satellites to Control Driver Speed in London

Forget cameras Рspy device will cut drivers̢۪ speed by satellite (Sunday Times of London)

IT IS the ultimate back seat driver. Motorists face having their cars fitted with a “spy†device that stops speeding. The satellite-based system will monitor the speed limit and apply the brakes or cut out the accelerator if the driver tries to exceed it. A government-funded trial has concluded that the scheme promotes safer driving. Drivers in London could be among the first to have the “speed spy†devices fitted. They would be offered a discount on the congestion charge if they use the system.

The move follows a six-month trial in Leeds using 20 modified Skoda Fabias, which found that volunteer drivers paid more attention as well keeping to the speed limit. More than 1,000 lives a year could be saved if the system was fitted to all Britain̢۪s cars, say academics at Leeds University, who ran the trial on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT).

It is part of a two-year research project into “intelligent speed adaptation†(ISA), which the department is funding at a cost of £2m. Results of the initial trial will be presented to ministers this week. A study commissioned by London’s transport planners has recommended that motorists who install it should be rewarded with a discount on the congestion charge, which tomorrow rises to £8 a day.

Leaving aside the incredible invasion of privacy this represents and the havok system malfunctions or intentional sabatoge could cause, this is quite ironic. Drivers in London are paying an exorbitant fee for the priviledge of driving on congested roads because the government can’t maintain an adequate infrastructure. Presumably, this means that drivers pine for merely being able to drive the speed limit, let alone exceed it. So, the government is rebating part of the penalty they are imposing for being unable to complete one of basic functions of government in order to get control of something they have no business controlling?


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    When was the last time anyone in London got anywhere nnear the speed limit?

  2. Jay says:

    I can see this causing accidents when a burst of speed is needed to stay safe and is thwarted. Bad idea.

  3. The Limey says:

    Jay – I thought the same thing but apparently “the system can be overridden to avoid a hazard”.

    I believe the congestion charge has actually been quite a success in reducing traffic on the roads in central London. So people generally support it. Remember also that in London most people do not use cars to get around, they use public transport (particularly the tube).

  4. Kenny says:

    another example of big brother. There is no telling what those eyes in the sky are watching us do.