Feds Call for Smart Speed Reduction Tech in New Cars

NTSB calls for mandate, asks 17 of the most prominent automakers – including Ford, GM and Toyota – to equip their cars with the capability

Graham Hope

November 20, 2023

3 Min Read
3D illustration of traffic with self driving car.
Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants new cars sold in the U.S. to be fitted with smart tech that warns drivers when they are speeding – and has the potential to prevent them from exceeding limits.

The federal agency has made the recommendation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration following its investigation of a fatal crash near North Las Vegas, Nevada, where excessive speed was found to be a primary cause of the tragedy.

And as a result of its probe, it believes the time is right for both legislators and manufacturers to fully consider the potential benefits of Intelligence Speed Assistance (ISA) technology.

As a statement from the NTSB explains, there are two main strands of ISA tech. Passive ISA systems use a car’s GPS location compared with a database of posted speed limits and its onboard cameras to help ensure safe and legal speeds. (Some cars are also now using the likes of Google Maps to inform on speeds).

Passive systems warn when the vehicle exceeds the limit via visual, sound or haptic alerts, and the driver is responsible for slowing the car.

The NTSB believes new cars should feature this tech as a “minimum” requirement.

Active ISA systems go further. These include mechanisms that make it more difficult – but not impossible – to increase the speed of a vehicle above the limit and also those that electronically peg speeds to prevent limits from being exceeded.

Related:Mercedes ‘Hands off, Eyes off’ Driving Now Available in the US

It should be pointed out that the NTSB does not have the authority to implement its recommendations; it is merely an agency that advises on transportation matters.

Amid a landscape where we are becoming accustomed to the idea of cars being sold with increasing levels of automated functionality, and taxis that drive themselves in cities, it is perhaps unsurprising that questions are now being asked as to whether more should be done to take decisions on speed away from humans.

The Las Vegas crash probed by the NTSB certainly illustrates why the debate is gaining traction. It saw a Dodge Challenger enter an intersection at 103 mph, causing a multi-vehicle collision that killed nine people. The driver of the Dodge was impaired by cocaine and PCP and had accumulated numerous speeding offenses.

“This crash is the latest in a long line of tragedies we’ve investigated where speeding and impairment led to catastrophe, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” said NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy. “We know the key to saving lives is redundancy, which can protect all of us from human error that occurs on our roads. What we lack is the collective will to act on NTSB safety recommendations.”

Related:Uber Offers Waymo Driverless Taxis in Phoenix

As well as recommending to the NHTSA that passive ISA tech should be mandated, it also believes there needs to be an education program for the public and incentivization for it to be adopted via the New Car Assessment Program.

And it has asked 17 of the most prominent automakers active in the US – including Ford, General Motors and Toyota – to equip their cars with ISA capability.

Europe has led the way on “intervention” tech such as this with ISA and automated emergency braking mandated on all new cars sold from 2022.

Like what you've read? For more stories like this on transportation and other emerging technologies, sign up for our free daily email newsletter to stay updated!

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

Sign Up for the Newsletter
The most up-to-date news and insights into the latest emerging technologies ... delivered right to your inbox!

You May Also Like