back to article Ford: Our latest car gizmo will CHOKE OFF your FUEL if you're speeding

Ford has announced a new intelligent speed limiter system which reads traffic signs and reduces fuel flow to keep your vehicle within the speed limit. As much as the petrolhead lobby decries the direct correlation the road safety brigade makes between speed and safety, current legislation means that if you're driving too fast …

  1. Filippo

    Can we have a hack that only engages it when approaching a speedometer? ;-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is this a lost in translation

      Doesn't every car have a speedometer on the dashboard?

      1. Richard Jones 1
        WTF?

        Re: Is this a lost in translation

        I totally agree.

        I also wonder how the 'device' will spot the signs that some councils have cunningly covered with vegetation to make drivers 'guess and pay', or will this brain of Britain device know the different bushes and trees used to cover road signs? Oh Hawthorn means 30 mph, brambles mean 40, etc.

        Far better to use GPS to locate limits and tell the driver what is going on - 30 MPH in 50 yards, etc. Still variable limits could catch out sleeping drivers as would temporary speed limits.

        As an alternative look through the big glass thing in front of you and use some judgement and e.g. look for lamp posts, they are relevant in the UK.

        1. nijam

          Re: Is this a lost in translation

          Hmmm... my daughter failed her first driving test, according to the examiner because she didn't speed up after leaving a 30mph limited area. We checked afterwards, and there was no sign indicating the end of that speed limit.

          And the overhead speed limit signed on motorways near alleged roadworks or "incidents"? More often than not they are wrong, plain and simple. Any works here finished days ago; the incident - if ever there was one - was cleared hours ago.

          In short, you can't win. As the old saying has it: the French invented the motor car, the Germans developed it, and the British tried to ban it.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Is this a lost in translation

              > Perhaps the streetlights stopped?

              I never understood that. Why would a degradation in visibility imply an increase in allowed maximum speed?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Is this a lost in translation

            I had never heard that the Brit's tried to ban cars before and does not match my experience. In my corner of suburban London (Redbridge) every front garden bar ours has been torn out to provide parking and the road is pretty chock full as well.

            My neighbours defend their driving habits with a vehemence that an unusually zealous NRA member would find unsettling.

            Parking - fault of the minimum wage meter maid, Speeding - fault of the cunning councils trying to raise money, Skint - yes but can buy a new car on HP, Fat - too busy to get any exercise or cannot afford the gym.

            I ditched mine almost twelve years ago, put the cash towards a mortgage deposit. Had planned to buy another, but never got round to it. I don't miss the aggravation and when I do drive it's usually somewhere foreign and sunny and you can actually enjoy it.

        2. Sir Alien

          Re: Is this a lost in translation

          If the road you were travelling on changed speed limit such as going from national limit to 50 or to 40 then the sign MUST be visible or it is assumed without correct road signs that the speed limit did not change. If such a case where you were caught speeding came about, without you being able to tell that the speed limit has changed it is with almost great certainty that a court will find in your favour and throw out the case.

          If on the other hand there was a sign fully visible and you were still breaking the speed limit, well that's on you. :-D

          I personally ride with a journey camera now, so that if something like this ever came up, I could see on video if a sign was obscured and use this as evidence.

          -SA

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Is this a lost in translation

            @Sir Alien

            just after I passed my test in 87, I went down a hill at Swanwick and there was a 30mph sign buried in a bush, with a speed trap the other side of the bridge. I got a ticket (and 3 points) for doing 42 in a 30mph zone.

            When I went back the next day to take a photograph, the council had just finished cutting away the bushes around the sign!

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is this a lost in translation

          Yes exactly,

          ...and also those local authorities who deem themselves above installing speed limit signs in line with the regulations, and often signal (illegally) a change of limit with only a repeater sign of a painted number on the road.

          In my borough, our local roads have a mysterious limit change from 30 to 20 and back again, which does not have a legal change of limit sign - I have never worked out exactly where the limit does change. I can only assume therefore that the 20 zone is only 'recommended' and that the actual limit is still 30.

          1. ravenviz

            Re: Is this a lost in translation

            On single carriageway roads with streetlamps and no reminders otherwise, the limit is 30 mph.

            And also I don't know how you fail for not speeding up at the end of a 30 zone, the limit is a limit, not a requirement!

            1. launcap Silver badge

              Re: Is this a lost in translation

              > And also I don't know how you fail for not speeding up at the end of a 30 zone, the limit is a limit, not a requirement!

              However, you are also supposed to drive in a way that does not impede other road users. Which mean (usually) travelling at or near the limit.

              So I guess that it would come under the heading of 'not driving appropriate to the road conditions'

            2. Lusty

              Re: Is this a lost in translation

              "On single carriageway roads with streetlamps and no reminders otherwise, the limit is 30 mph."

              No, single carriageway roads are 60MPH whether lit or otherwise. Built up areas are 30 whether lit or not, and whether single or multiple carriageway. Street lighting is sometimes an indicator that an area is built up, but not the best one. Pavements are better, lots of houses and schools are a dead giveaway.

              https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits

              1. John H Woods

                Re: Is this a lost in translation

                "No, single carriageway roads are 60MPH whether lit or otherwise. Built up areas are 30 whether lit or not, and whether single or multiple carriageway. Street lighting is sometimes an indicator that an area is built up, but not the best one. " -- Lusty

                You keep repeating this, but it is not really correct. The presence of street lights* MEANS 30mph UNLESS contra-indicated.

                * not single ones - in fact I think they have to be less than 600' apart. Nevertheless, a road with regular lamp-posts has a 30 mph limit unless otherwise stated.

                1. Lusty

                  Re: Is this a lost in translation

                  @John, I don't keep repeating it, I responded to what I thought were two different threads spouting the same crap, which you repeat here. There are LOADS of roads in built up areas which do not have street lighting at all, are you saying these are 60MPH limit simply because the local council decided not to light them? The highway code doesn't mention street lights, and I would wager that bringing up street lights in a court defence would be met with laughter from the judge. The current trend is to remove street lighting to save energy and reduce light pollution so if there were mention of lights in the speed laws it would be time to remove it.

                  1. ravenviz
                    Boffin

                    Re: Is this a lost in translation

                    the highway code doesn't mention street lights

                    But the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 does:

                    "Where a system of street lighting exists, a road is automatically a 'restricted road' under the terms of section 82 of the Act, and carries a 30mph speed limit"

                    and goes on to say:

                    "Where no system of street lighting furnished by means of lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart is provided on a road, but a limit of speed is to be observed on the road, a person shall not be convicted of driving a motor vehicle on the road at a speed exceeding the limit unless the limit is indicated by means of such traffic signs as are mentioned in [subsections related to the duties of the Secretary of State and local authorities to erect and maintain prescribed traffic signs]"

                  2. John H Woods

                    Re: Is this a lost in translation

                    @Lusty,

                    With the greatest respect, this is not "the same crap"; I know many find it surprising, but it is UK Law.

                    Sources:

                    1) The Driving Course I've just been on, courtesy of Warwickshire Police :-)

                    2) Wikipedia

                    "In the UK Highway Code, a built-up area is a settled area in which the speed limit of a road is automatically 30 mph (48 km/h). These roads are known as 'restricted roads' and are identified by the presence of street lights."

                    3) Section 125 of the highway code

                    https://www.gov.uk/general-rules-all-drivers-riders-103-to-158/control-of-the-vehicle-117-to-126

                    "*The 30 mph limit usually applies to all traffic on all roads with street lighting unless signs show otherwise."

                    4) Section 82 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act, 1984

                    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/27/section/82

                    "(1) Subject to the provisions of this section and of section 84(3) of this Act, a road is a restricted road for the purposes of section 81 of this Act[F1if—

                    (a)in England and Wales, there is provided on it a system of street lighting furnished by means of lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart;"

                    In conclusion, on a road in a built up area (please tell me where there is one, we'll have a look on StreetView) and there are no signs which say otherwise, then the national speed limit does apply and, if you are driving a driving a normal car (i.e. no trailer etc), that limit is 60mph. UNLESS there is a pattern of streetlights. I think whether they are lit or not is a red herring --- otherwise such roads would not be restricted during the daytime, which would be nonsensical.

              2. John 98

                lamposts = 30 unless too tall

                The old rule, I believe still in force, was that lampposts generally imply a 30 limit (unless over 7 meters tall). Parliament in its infinite wisdom apprently thought the average driver could easily tell ...

            3. John 98

              Failed test - progress minus in the jargon

              The examiner in effect considers whether he would find it frustrating following somebody so slow. Obviously though, there is a problem if a sign is missing - perhaps another argument for having a camera on board so you can appeal the verdict. BTW, on the examiner's own test to get the job, you need to drive as fast as is safely and legally possible. So, on the motorway 65= Fail, 75= Fail, unless the tester agrees the conditions require it.

          2. Boothy

            Re: Is this a lost in translation

            @ AC re 20mph areas.

            It depends on if this is an actually 20 mph speed limited area, or a 20 mph zone, there is a distinction.

            If it's a 20 mph speed limited area, then the same rules apply as any other speed limit, in that the road should (normally *) have two signs, one each side of the carriageway, to denote the beginning of the new speed limit. ( * There are some exceptions, but they are rare).

            If it's a 20 mph zone, then all it needs is a single sign to state you are entering the 20 zone, but this zone must also have traffic calming measures in place, to stop you from doing over 20.

            More details here: http://www.abd.org.uk/speed_limit_signs.htm#20

        4. Boothy

          Re: Is this a lost in translation

          @ Richard Jones 1

          Quote: "I also wonder how the 'device' will spot the signs that some councils have cunningly covered with vegetation to"

          If you can't see the signs, the speed limit is not legally enforceable. Although this depends on if this is 'on entry' to the new speed limit, or a repeater sign for an area you're already in. (If it's a repeater, you are expected to already be aware of the speed limit).

          Useful site: http://www.abd.org.uk/speed_limit_signs.htm

        5. Lusty
          Boffin

          Re: Is this a lost in translation

          "e.g. look for lamp posts, they are relevant in the UK"

          No they aren't unless they have a speed sign on them. Plenty of motorways have lamp posts, as do numerous dual carriageways (which, incidentally, doesn't mean 2 lane roads is means two separate carriageways which can each be a single lane and still 70 limit) and many single carriageways, multilane and otherwise. If lamp posts are your method of determining speed limits then it must take you forever to get around :)

          https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. SuccessCase

      If they won't play nice providing a hack we can always send Clarkson round to punch a few engineers.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, my Mercedes does the same thing...

      At 250 kph (253 kph indicated), it terminates further acceleration.

      I'm not sure why, it's still pulling like a freight train and perfectly stable and planted at very high speeds (legal disclaimer: ...so I've been told...).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah, my Mercedes does the same thing...

        > At 250 kph (253 kph indicated), it terminates further acceleration. I'm not sure why,

        Because you haven't got the "sport" package (or whatever Mercedes call it), which removes the limit.

        > it's still pulling like a freight train and perfectly stable and planted at very high speeds

        While I do not condone speeding, nor do I speed myself (on public roads), that's what I see as the real advantage of a fast car: ride comfort at motorway speeds is second to none.

        Now, just don't be an idiot and stick to the speed limit on public roads, please. There is no need to annoy other users, and the road is theirs as much as yours or mine.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    FAIL

    I drove a Volvo a few months ago. It had gizmos to read speed limit signs and nag^H remind you if you're over the limit. Unfortunately, it couldn't work out whether a speed limit sign was on the motorway, slip-road, or adjacent road so kept on reminding me that I should be doing 30 on the motorway.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Yeah it will also be great driving on the continent with 120MPH speed limits because no one thought about MPH vs KPH. Also they tend to have speed limit signs with arrows just before the exit telling you that the exit road has a speed limit of 40KPH for example - be fun driving along at 120 and the car suddenly deciding that 40 is better!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        be fun driving along at 120 and the car suddenly deciding that 40 is better!

        Or if some goon holds up a 20 sign in view of the car's cameras…

        I am reminded of this sign:

        http://gallery.longlandclan.yi.org/gallery.cgi/humour-religion/church-08.jpg/photo.html?

        1. Valerion

          Or if some goon holds up a 20 sign in view of the car's cameras…

          That's going to be the best way to get tailgating cars of your arse on the motorway. Get one of the kids to hold up a replica 30 sign in the rear window and watch them disappear...

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: hold up a 30 sign

            On most UK motorways there will be no need to do this because there are already maliciously posted "70" signs every so often.

            1. jonathanb Silver badge

              Re: hold up a 30 sign

              You only see (70) signs in Scotland. In England, we have ( / ) national speed limit signs, so you need to know if you are on a dual carriageway or motorway, in which case it means 70, or another type of road, in which case it means 60, and it is lower if you have a trailer attached to your car.

              1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

                Re: hold up a 30 sign

                You only see (70) signs in Scotland.

                You also see them in Wales....

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        You misread the continental speed limit

        German speed limits will make a lovely use case. They have speed limits like 120km/h on motorways which are vehicle, weather and time of day specific - up to 3 additional markings to parse.

        1. N2 Silver badge

          Re: You misread the continental speed limit

          France also, 130 dry / 110 wet on the peage here.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You misread the continental speed limit

          > German speed limits will make a lovely use case.

          That is a solved problem¹. Read my post somewhere above this.

          ¹ Not surprisingly. We're talking about the heart of Europe's, if not the World's, car industry.

        3. big_D Silver badge

          Re: You misread the continental speed limit

          @Voland's right hand

          Yep,

          "80

          Lärmschutz

          18 - 06"

          You also have the limits for trailers and HGVs etc.

          But any such system will need to be thoroughly tested in such conditions, before it can be released to the public.

          It will probably also work with the nav system, which usually has the "last" set of posted limits for a stretch of road - getting the updates is the usual problem.

      3. Kristian Walsh

        If it includes GPS, it'll know the difference between km/h zones and mph.

        ...except around the Northern Irish border, where the Republic's signage (km/h) and Northern Ireland's (mph) are so close to each other that they often share the same mounting poles.

        As for reducing speed by cutting the fuel supply under software control, this isn't exactly new: it's how Cruise Control works on a car with electronic throttle control. All they're doing is limiting the user throttle input to that determined by the cruise set-speed (normally the pedal throttle setting overrides the value produced by the cruise-controller). Goods vehicles already have this system to limit them to 80 km/h or 100km/h (but there are many common ways to defeat it...)

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          On my car, the cruise control doesn't cut the throttle - you can rev the engine up whilst maintaining a consistent speed. I've no idea how it maintains the speed when you increase the revs, so I can only conclude that it is magic.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > I've no idea how it maintains the speed when you increase the revs, so I can only conclude that it is magic.

            Continuously variable transmission?

            Burnt clutch? :-)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @BrisolBachelor -- Nope...

        Posted Anon for obvious reason....

        "Yeah it will also be great driving on the continent with 120MPH speed limits because no one thought about MPH vs KPH. "

        If you look at your speedometer, you'll see that while its mainly in MPH, in smaller print, is KPH. And if you use the digital meter you have to set it to MPH or KPH so this means that your car knows both.

        And there's more.

        This tech requires that your car has cameras so that it can see the sign and do OCR to determine the proper speed limit. (Yes this can be done and has been tested successfully in Germany)

        This tech isn't on the streets yet so this new speed reducer will probably hit the streets around the same time in 2018 or 2020 year models. (My guess)

        In addition the car would also have a built in GPS with the maps containing the road, its classification, and its default speed. (Some roads are adjusted due to congestion along with construction.)

        These are all small steps towards automated roads and driving.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: @BrisolBachelor -- Nope...

          "In addition the car would also have a built in GPS with the maps containing the road, its classification, and its default speed."

          A stretch of road between the motorway and my town has had a 40mph limit for about 8 years now. My SatNav, 3rd one since the limit change and regularly updated maps, still shows the old 60mph limit. It also warns that it is a 30mph "safety camera" zone ;-)

          I've also seen my SatNav suddenly report a 30mph limit while on a motorway because a local road is parallel to it and the Sat accuracy has dropped for some reason.

          Then there's a 70mph dual carriage way where the mile long "slip road" (close spaced dashed line sepeator) is currently signed as 50mph because of the major roadworks at the roundabout under the trunk road while the straight on lanes are still 70mph.

          Engine braking might not be sudden, but during a busy commuter run i would NOT like my car to suddenly slow down just because some programmer didn't take into account ALL possible edge cases.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ John Brown ... Re: @BrisolBachelor -- Nope...

            Not all GPS units are designed the same and are equal.

            You have two issues.

            First is the actual Map Data. This is the data that comes from Google, Nokia or TeleAtlas. Each road link will have data associated with the road link, including speed limits associated with the direction of travel among other things.

            Second is GPS positioning.

            The road link data itself could be off more than a couple of meters since the underlying map is only guaranteed to be accurate at most by 1.5 meters. So when you travel down the road, the software takes your position (x,y,z) and snaps it to the grid and to what it thinks is the correct road link. Thats why you're getting position on the wrong road.

            However, taken with data from the camera(s), its possible for the positioning unit to determine that its not on the parallel access road but the main road.

            Again, a lot of this stuff is still a work in progress.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Yeah it will also be great driving on the continent with 120MPH speed limits because no one thought about MPH vs KPH.

        Sorry mate, but that's just wrong. They have actually thought about that¹ and because the thing is tied to the GPS and navigation database, it knows which country it's in and therefore what signs to watch out for (the actual signs do tend to change from country to country, even in Europe) and their meaning.

        > Also they tend to have speed limit signs with arrows just before the exit telling you that the exit road has a speed limit of 40KPH for example

        My car recognises those no problem. It also recognises time- and weight-dependent limits and interprets them correctly according to the time of the day and whether you are towing a trailer or not. Same goes for "wet" limits, both explicit and implied, such as in France (130 km/h dry, 110 km/h when it's raining, 110/100, 90/80, etc.)

        The problem are signs posted next to the road you're on but without an arrow, or simply too close on an adjacent road. Really, some of them are confusing even to humans so I don't see what a synthetic vision system could do--I guess that over time road authorities will just be more careful about placement of road signs.

        ¹ They're engineers just like some of us, perhaps including you, and they get paid for this. I wonder why people reading a half-arsed article on some blog keep thinking they can do better than those who actually do the stuff for a living. Mysteries of life, I guess.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC

          "¹ They're engineers just like some of us, perhaps including you, and they get paid for this. I wonder why people reading a half-arsed article on some blog keep thinking they can do better than those who actually do the stuff for a living. Mysteries of life, I guess."

          Yes, we are engineers. ;-)

          Posted ANON for obvious reasons.

        2. Cpt Blue Bear

          "They're engineers just like some of us, perhaps including you, and they get paid for this. I wonder why people reading a half-arsed article on some blog keep thinking they can do better than those who actually do the stuff for a living. Mysteries of life, I guess."

          Its well documented and even has a name: the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The relevant bit says that the less you know about something the easier you think it is and the better you think you are at it.

          To circle back to road safety, it also contradicts the unofficial position of most Aussie police forces in opposing driver training on the assumption that unskilled drivers will be more cautious.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      "limit sign was on the motorway, slip-road, or adjacent road so kept on reminding me that I should be doing 30 on the motorway."

      And this of course will be one of a multitude of problems that self drive cars would face too - green light says go, oops wrong green light, crunch. Or the graffiti / shaded / unlit / part covered signed means car thinks it's still 70MPH instead of 50MPH oops speeding ticket.

      It would probably be better if the car had a satnav or wireless link which inferred the speed limit from the prevailing traffic flow and then used the distance between the car in front and behind to adjust that to the local conditions.

      1. Ralph B

        True. Then there's the cases of the speed limit signs on the motorways in Italy which carry a small-print subtitle of (something like) "In caso di nebbia" - which only Italian-speaking drivers will know means "In case of fog." Does Ford's computer speak Italian? (And whatever other languages this problem might repeated for?)

        1. Robin

          > Then there's the cases of the speed limit signs on the motorways in Italy which carry a small-print subtitle of (something like) "In caso di nebbia"

          Yep, here in Spain there's a 'no entry' sign at one end of a street, below which it says "Only Saturdays". It's intended to deal with the congestion caused by the weekend market stalls.

          I think there's signs like you describe near Sierra Nevada too.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Does Ford's computer speak Italian?

          Mine "speaks" German and probably Italian too, although I haven't paid attention to this. The car has a database of signs it can recognise, including some consisting mostly or entirely of text. It can also recognise numbers such as times and weights (and of course, speeds).

          The majority of traffic signs are standardised so whether they are text or pictorial does not make any difference to the system (other than the sign's intrinsic complexity).

          As for "in caso di nebbia", the ones you refer to do not pose any problem. More tricky are the other ones ("In caso di nebbia, si vedete così ...") as one has to judge the actual visibility by looking at the road marks. But then again, this system is intended to aid the driver, not replace him or relieve him of responsibility.

        3. big_D Silver badge

          @Ralph B well, duh! Of course they speak other languages. Do you think that current road sign reading technologies, such as those in Mercedes, BMW, VAG etc. are only English as well?

          GM and Ford have a lot of production facilities and sales in non-English speaking countries as well. Most of their current vehicles allow you to switch between MPH/MPG and KMH/L per 100KM and to change the language within the cars infotainment system (my 2004 Mondeo certainly did, useful when I came back to Blighty to visit the family).

          The systems are also, generally, supported by a GPS and nav system, so the vehicle knows it is in a foreign country and can automatically adjust the recognition to MPH or KMH as required.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Slip road limits

      Quote: Unfortunately, it couldn't work out whether a speed limit sign was on the motorway, slip-road. If it is just reading them, it is tolerable. It is no different from the nag on my GPS which cannot determine if it is on the slip or on the main carriageway until they separate by at least a few meters.

      Now, deccelerating at each and every 406 junction so the psychotic behind you rear-ends you there and then - forget it. How can this pass for safety is beyond me. By the way - 406 is not a special case, most UK inner town dual (or more) carriageways has similar bogus signage.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Voland, Re: Slip road limits

        So you have two things. The accuracy of the GPS unit an then the accuracy of the map itself. The map is accurate to 1.5 meters. Then your GPS can be off, depending on the number of satellite signals it receives and of course your GPS unit will snap you to the road link based on direction of travel and speed. When you're in a tunnel, the GPS unit uses its sensors to determine your relative position from when you last received a sat signal.

        So that's the issue with your position on the map. And again each road link has a set speed attribute for your vehicle type. (car or truck)

        The ability to read signs would be to augment the system and if you start to get to autonomous driving, your GPS enabled car will have road cameras among other technologies...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Voland, Slip road limits

          > When you're in a tunnel, the GPS unit uses its sensors to determine your relative position from when you last received a sat signal.

          Technically, it's not the GPS (satellite receiver) but navigation unit that does the dead reckoning, based on input from whichever combination of odometer, compass, accelerometers, and whatever else your car uses. But the gist is there.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Voland, Slip road limits

            Sorry I couldn't think of the word accelerometer.

            And there are two meanings to GPS. (The actual GPS hardware that calculates your position based on signals from satellites [receiver] and then the GPS unit that you bought from Garmin which includes the map data and applications)

    4. ckm5

      Drove a Ford 3 years ago with something similar

      This doesn't seem to be that new - speed limiters have existed on Continental cars for years. My uncle's Audi has had a similar system (that ties reading road signs to speed limiters) to for at least 2-3 years...

      In countries with Napoleonic-based laws, it is up to you to prove your innocence, so traffic cameras automatically deduct points as soon as they record you 'speeding'. It's theoretically possible to loose your license before getting to your destination, which is why speed limiters are so popular.

      The Ford Focus I drove had both sign reading (it would keep track of the two last signs), speed limiting & overspeed warning (based on the last sign). It wouldn't tie the warning to the limiter, but that seems a trivial software hack rather than some vast improvement. It also had lane departure warning, so it was just short of self driving...

      1. phil dude
        Meh

        Re: Drove a Ford 3 years ago with something similar

        "In countries with Napoleonic-based laws, it is up to you to prove your innocence"

        One of the many reasons the English speaking think Europe is a bad idea (note the lack of national assignation).

        Yes juries are not perfect. But the principle that you should be innocent before proven guilty is central to a civilised society.

        That's why it is ignored by the state at all levels and there is a proliferation of cameras...

        P.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Drove a Ford 3 years ago with something similar

          > "In countries with Napoleonic-based laws, it is up to you to prove your innocence"

          The statement you have quoted is false. :-)

          And the way traffic fines work is rather complex, but it's far from "automatic". It is only so if the driver does not contest it--if you do, it's ultimately up to a judge to decide whether you get a fine or not, just like with everything else. Usually they agree to fine you and you agree to pay, but that's just social convention, not the way the law actually works.

        2. Kristian Walsh

          Re: Drove a Ford 3 years ago with something similar

          "One of the many reasons the English speaking think Europe is a bad idea (note the lack of national assignation)."

          Apart from being ill-informed about both the presumption of innocence and jury trial under the Napoleonic legal systems, you're making another big sweep with that statement.

          You don't have to travel far from England to find an English-speaking nation that has always been highly positive towards Europe, in the form of the Republic of Ireland. Even within the supposedly Euro-sceptic United Kingdom, Scotland and, to a lesser extent, that bit of England that was historically under the Danelaw (or "up North" in modern terms) tend to be pro-European. Only the South-East of England is home to strong anti-European views.

          Further afield, Canada is quite a bit friendlier to the EU than the United States is, but neither are as suspicious of the EU as the average Southern English voter.

          So, kindly don't label the rest of us with your own prejudices. Thanks.

    5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      AI is hard

      Re: Volvo reading signs in neighbouring roads

      AI is hard.

      As all the self-crashing cars are about to re-discover.

  3. Mondo the Magnificent
    Meh

    Oh...

    ..it can be overridden then?

    Well, there's another useless feature my future car may come with as "standard equipment"...

    Seriously now, being alert and paying attention is what prevents accidental speeding.. unless of course you want to speed and you can even use your cruise control to "help" you speed.. or maintain the legal speed limit

    It's just more sugar coating from the automotive industry that will make fleet managers believe they are doing their road warrior employees a favour by choosing a vehicle with this "nanny feature"..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh...

      I thought the same, if it can't be overridden it will make overtakes dangerous if the car you're overtaking speeds up.

      At the same time, I assume anyone who doesn't want this just needs to cover the camera that's watching out for the signs.

      I wonder how it works if you take a UK car in MPH into Europe where the signs are KPH. Hopefully it's smart enough to handle this situation too.

      1. Electron Shepherd

        Re: Oh...

        I wonder how it works if you take a UK car in MPH into Europe

        The article says that it interfaces with the on-board navigation and since typically GPS is accurate to about 20 feet or so, determining that you're in a whole different country shouldn't be too much of a problem.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Oh...

          Indeed.

          Most sat-nav apps and devices will switch to different sides of the road, speed units, settings regarding showing you messages on the screen, etc. as soon as they detect you are in a foreign country. If you're already on GPS, working out what country you're in is trivial.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Intelligent accelerator pedals...

            "I think you ought to know, I'm feeling very depressed".

          2. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: Oh...

            So if you are in Northern Ireland, driving towards the Irish border, and you see a (100) speed limit sign ahead, at the border, will it rev up to 100mph, or slow down to 100km/h?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh...

          > since typically GPS is accurate to about 20 feet or so, determining that you're in a whole different country shouldn't be too much of a problem.

          Unless there is a disagreement as to whose country the piece of land you're driving on belongs to. :-) But yes, that's how it works.

      2. djack

        Re: Oh...

        "I assume anyone who doesn't want this just needs to cover the camera that's watching out for the signs."

        .. or just not turn it on.

        My car reads the road-signs and like the Volvo above, this is incredibly unreliabe as it can't tell what sign applies to you (I'm feeling slightly better that it's not just the Vauxhall system that does that).

        The car also has a limiter and it is incredibly useful, especially in areas with average speed cameras. I'm glad that the sign reader and limiter haven't been linked.

  4. David Pollard
    Joke

    Cowards

    They waited until Jeremy Clarkson was out of the way before announcing this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cowards

      ...except that he isn't - he still writes a newspaper column independently of the BBC, among other journalistic activties that he undertakes.

      1. 100113.1537

        Re: Cowards

        But the reach of his newspaper column is an order of magnitude lower than his pulpit on Top Gear. That is the point - love him or hate him, he has a big following on Top Gear that he will find it hard to communicate with if/when he leaves/is kicked off.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My wife's car has automatic headlights.

    So they come on when the car deems necessary.

    Only problem is, because my street is quite well lit, if I use it in an evening and the auto lights are off, I don't notice they are not on for a few hundred yards. Because the Dash is profuse with an OLED display, and lights make up everything these days on car controls whether day or not, there is no visual indicator.

    This is *my* fault. I am not blaming the car in the slightest. But with these features comes an over-reliance on technology which is inherently dangerous. ALl the modern tech in a car will get you out of trouble you *shouldn't have been in, in the first place* yet regulation starts to see these things as the only way we can be safe drivers.

    Sad, really.

    1. John H Woods

      Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

      This is not quite your fault. I have auto headlights too, and whilst they will dip in the presence of streetlighting, they certainly wouldn't go off. There's something wrong with your sensors (possibly their design): the ambient light even on a dull day is massively greater than even fairly bright streetlighting.

      1. Neil Alexander

        Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

        Yes, I also have automatic headlights and they come on in pretty much any condition that is not 100% daylight. They have never turned themselves off incorrectly due to street lighting. If anything, they probably come on quite often when not necessary.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

          "If anything, they probably come on quite often when not necessary."

          Yes, they do. Bloody annoying for those of us who know how and when to use the cars lights properly. Especially the dazzling HID ones. Few people, especially those who leave the lights permanently on "auto" seem to know when to use side lights. Auto lights don't seem to use the side light setting at all.

          And while I'm having a rant, front fog lights are NOT a replacement for one or more failed headlights, especially in town. If the street lights are on and you don't exceed 30mph, sidelights are all you legally need to use.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

      If you need to be seen, sidelights.

      If you need to see, headlights.

      If you "don't notice" for several hundred yards, chances are you don't "need" headlights, as such.

      That said, if your car doesn't put at least sidelights on at the first sign of dusk, you're going to be run into, and it's almost certainly a problem with your car. That you notice means that you are driving fairly responsibly, though.

      I'm torn. I only buy cars that are almost entirely mechanical - it's impossible to get ENTIRELY mechanical nowadays. I just don't like the car second-guessing me. But I'm also one of the few people I know that would happily slap average speed cameras on every street corner, and tie them in to alert nearby police to cars with false/invalid/hidden number plates, so it would be almost impossible to speed without flagging up something somewhere with your name on it.

      I don't speed. But equally I don't want the car DECIDING that I'm speeding when actually I'm not (how does it deal with, for example, side-road speed limits posted on the main road, "20mph limit in one mile" etc?). I work in IT and just don't trust the equipment enough here to let it do such things, even with an override - that just adds to the confusion in such situations where the pedals don't correspond to the driver's wishes and then - all of a sudden - do.

      I implicitly trust ABS, traction control, engine management, airbags, seatbelts, etc. They are fabulous technologies that save lives in one way or another. But equally I don't trust the car to actually choose how to drive. If I brake, ABS ensures that my braking is as efficient as possible. If my wheels spin, traction control will manage those wheels to ensure grip on the road to try to conform to my desire to accelerate / brake / corner. If I hit something, seatbelts and airbags will perform drastic measures to ensure that the damage to myself is as low as possible in such an extreme situation but not active otherwise.

      It's the parts where cars attempt to detect the situations where you DON'T take an action (e.g. automatic emergency braking, automated lane control, even cruise control) and do it for you that I don't trust. There might be a good reason not to (I'm heavily of the opinion that it's BILLIONS-TO-ONE against the human NEEDING to accelerate in an emergency situation unless they'd be an ABSOLUTE pillock of a driver just seconds before anyway).

      Cars, like computers, should do what they are told. You can help me do what I've told you to, that's fine. But the second I stop telling you to, you shouldn't suddenly decide that you must anyway unless it's absolutely, and assuredly, life-critical (and that has an entirely different standard of testing).

      I'm not a fan of the middle ground. Let me drive the car and take responsibility for it, or don't. Don't put me behind the driving seat, telling me it's all my fault if something goes wrong, and then take away control. Automated car or manual car, not the in-between.

      1. Nigel Brown

        Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

        Wrong.

        Sidelights are in the main useless, being like a glow-worm in a jam jar on a lot of cars. There is no excuse for not using dipped headlights if you want to be seen. Things have moved on, you don't 'save the battery' by using sidelights instead of headlights!

      2. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
        Megaphone

        If you need to be seen, sidelights.

        Er NO

        If you NEED to be seen - headlights. Sidelights are position indicators not 'be seen' indicators. Even in a 30 zone there are too many cars with such feeble sidelights that they are almost invisible on a grey drizzle February 4pm in Manchester. Even worse there are the 'invisible' cars on the M62 motorways driving in the rain on sidelights.

        I'll take the comments about badly adjusted headlights/too bright but thats a maintenance issue or the Richard Cranium with illegal HID conversions

        Didnt downvote you Lee as I agree with the rest.....

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

          Correct. If you need lights, you need headlights - dipped or main as appropriate. There shouldn't even be a switch position for sidelights when the engine is running; they're parking markers and nothing more.

          I won't mention driving with fog lights when it's not foggy...

          One thing, though - the need lights situation is not helped by full-time illuminated dash panels (e.g. the wife's Seat) but I don't know how to avoid this (my Fiat Bravo's instruments are unreadable in some lighting conditions due to the depth of the dial in its binnacle, when external lights are not generally applicable). Perhaps we should just take the approach of leaving the headlights on all the time when the engine is on, as some of our continental cousins do.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

            I should point out that when they were off, they had actually been put into the OFF position inadvertantly. Because I was so used to them being on automatically, it took a while before I realised they were not on when they should have been.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

              There seem to be hundreds of road traffic act rules and highway code guidelines that have been lost to many people just like this use of lights example. A few people make up their own highway code, and people start to copy like sheep. When there's an accident they swear they were in the right, even describing their actions in accordance with the unofficial highway code, only to get a shock from the insurance company and the police.

              One colleague of mine was waiting at a T-Junction. An approaching car flashed lights (official highway code says flashing lights = "look out I'm here! warning", unofficial highway code = "I'm yielding right of way to you"). He proceeded, there was a crash, he was prosecuted.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

                @ werdsmith

                "An approaching car flashed lights (official highway code says flashing lights = "look out I'm here! warning", unofficial highway code = "I'm yielding right of way to you"). He proceeded, there was a crash, he was prosecuted."

                This is the difference between the rules of the road and the actual rules of the road. Just as there is an english dictionary but it is always out of date and loses the context of the area. Personally I try to use hand signals instead of my lights and I certainly dont flash them to thank people as it is blinding to anyone looking that way.

                Flashing the lights is an understood method of letting people go or thanking them regardless of the actual written rules. The problem is for people to make their intentions clear. There is a lot of missing detail in your story which could tell the difference between misinterpretation, giving bad signals/changing his mind or even an insurance scam.

                When I passed my test my parents rightly said 'now you will learn to drive properly'. That statement is very true as you have to drive to the standards of those around you, not to a rule and regulation book that doesnt care if you are alive or dead.

                1. launcap Silver badge

                  Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

                  > When I passed my test my parents rightly said 'now you will learn to drive properly'.

                  Indeed. Likewise.

                  I'm also firmly of the opinion that people who have just passed their tests shouldn't have automatic access to motorways since they require a different degree of forward thinking and anticipating than town driving.

                  All it needs is a follow-on lesson from someone to hammer home the difference.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

                  Personally I take flashing headlights as an indication that the driver is awake and watching the road (as opposed to operating their mobile phone or shaving their bikini line or trying to slap a child in the back seat) so I'm slightly more willing to turn across or pull out in front of someone who has just flashed their headlights than someone who hasn't.

                  On modern cars there is no option to turn on sidelights without (dimmed) headlights.

                  Unnecessary full-on headlights annoy me because of the dazzle. On an overcast evening, getting towards dusk, but before the street lights have come on, it's harder to see the cyclist in front of me if there's a twat with superbright headlights coming in the other direction.

                  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

                    "it's harder to see the cyclist in front of me if there's a twat with superbright headlights coming in the other direction."

                    ...or even a cyclist coming towards you with a high intensity flashing front light as bright as a car headlight FFS!

            2. Pascal

              Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

              > I should point out that when they were off, they had actually been put into the OFF position inadvertantly. Because I was so used to them being on automatically, it took a while before I realised they were not on when they should have been.

              My new car warns me for that. I have the usual ON / OFF / Auto choices, if I have them set to off while it's dark outside I'll get an initial verbal warning and an occasional full-screen notification in the dash. It does come in handy considering the automatic setting behaves well enough that I basically unlearned to turn on the lights by now. (At any rate, there's always enough minimal lights to be seen when the engine is running - in the "off" setting the headlights are actually bright enough to be seen even in sunlight).

              I'm of the opinion that car should always light up a lot and not offer drivers much choice about it :)

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

              > I should point out that when they were off, they had actually been put into the OFF position inadvertantly

              You did recognise it was your "fault", which many people deem unthinkable, but I'll point out that it is not reliance on technology, just lack of attention or discipline. My car has sensors for just about everything, from fluid levels to tyre pressure (actual pressure, not the mandatory flat tyre warning that works off the ABS rotation sensors), and I think it's great (e.g., I can make the decision to adapt tyre pressures to road and weather conditions, or change my driving style, without having to stop first), but I still do a manual check on everything before the first drive of the day, as well as a quick walk-around on every subsequent drive.

              This to say: over-reliance or not on technology is a matter of driver training and discipline.

          2. launcap Silver badge

            Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

            > I won't mention driving with fog lights when it's not foggy...

            froth, froth.. Kill them, kill them all!

            Anyone fancy inventing a nice IR laser that can auto-target improperly used foglamps? I'm sure that a nice sudden burst of focussed IR should be able to blow the bulb.

            And while you are at it, a nice focussed EMP device to kill the doof doof merchants.

            All of a sudden, I feel positively middle-aged.

          3. ravenviz
            Alert

            Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

            4. Lighting requirements (113 to 116)

            113

            You MUST

            [...]

            use headlights at night, except on a road which has lit street lighting.

            115

            You should also:

            use dipped headlights, or dim-dip if fitted, at night in built-up areas and in dull daytime weather, to ensure that you can be seen

            The Highway Code

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

              "use headlights at night, except on a road which has lit street lighting."

              I did not know this.

              Not that I am going to go off driving without my lights on *In theory!* ....

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

                Whyever not - if a road has streetlights then it is perfectly possible to see down it. In fact about the only thing that prevents me seeing a decent way along a streetlit road is the number of idiots with dazzlingly bright lights.

                If you don't start a lighting war then there is no need for anyone else to continue it - and the people who are going to sleep don't get their rooms illuminated by annoying moving lights...

                Amazingly the moon provides a good amount of light as well, depends on the phase obviously, but it's quite possible to travel without any other light source.

                1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                  Re: If you need to be seen, sidelights.

                  The well lit means being able to see 100m (rule 226)

      3. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

        You might be surprised just how often hitting the accelerator to get out of a situation happens. To be fair it all depends on the road, but it's not billions to one. I had a commute many years ago that pretty much guaranteed once a week having to slam my foot on the accelerator seconds after pulling out of a junction due to the pillock coming round a blind corner too fast. First time was quite scary given said pillock was in an 18 wheeler and I'd been driving less than a month at the time.

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

          Not sure why someone would down vote simply pointing out that there are circumstances that require a heavy foot when pulling out onto a road with a blind corner. Certainly hitting the brakes could be fatal not only for the driver pulling out but also for the pillock coming round the corner *after* you've pulled out of the junction. Or are you supposed to be psychic and sense the vehicle coming around the blind corner and thence waiting until after they've passed? As I said, to be fair it's pretty much the only time it's necessary, but it does happen.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

            > Not sure why someone would down vote simply pointing out that there are circumstances that require a heavy foot when pulling out onto a road with a blind corner.

            I'm not the down voter, but vote could be for an off-topic post.

            The situation you describe doesn't involve exceeding the speed limit, hence it's not relevant to an automatic speed-limiter on the accelerator pedal.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

            "You might be surprised just how often hitting the accelerator to get out of a situation happens.

            ...

            Not sure why someone would down vote simply pointing out that there are circumstances that require a heavy foot when..."

            Because it's bs. It is perfectly possible to drive a slow vehicle safely. That is why insurance gets higher as vehicle performance increases. Problems are a failure of the driver to assess the road conditions.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

            > Not sure why someone would down vote simply pointing out that there are circumstances that require a heavy foot when pulling out onto a road with a blind corner.

            Possibly because, from your description, it would appear that you might have failed to apply defensive driving principles?

      4. Yugguy

        Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

        I agree.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

          > I agree.

          You agree that his wife's car has automatic headlights?

          Would it be too much of an indiscretion to ask how you came to be in possession of such knowledge?

        2. kiwimuso

          Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

          AC and Yugguy

          Bullshit yourself. Under 'normal' circumstances I might agree with you, but abnormal circumstances where events happen very quickly despite you being aware of road conditions can still happen.

          It doesn't happen very often, but it can happen, in which case, I would not want some stupid car deciding on my behalf to limit what I can do.

      5. skeptical i
        Meh

        visibility -v- illumination [was: My wife's car has automatic headlights.]

        re: "If you need to be seen, sidelights.

        If you need to see, headlights.

        If you "don't notice" for several hundred yards, chances are you don't "need" headlights, as such."

        Unless you're on a bicycle, in which case Officer Friendly WILL get on your case if it is dark and you do not have a headlight regardless of how well lit the area is with streetlights. Although in my experience bicyclist can be well in the bike lane and lit up like a bleedin' holiday tree and some driver with a misguided sense of entitlement will still claim "didn't see the bicyclist, shouldn't have been on a road for CARS". If this "see the sign, obey the sign" technology can be tweaked to force drivers to either pass bicyclists with at least 36" clearance, or to slow down behind the cyclist until such passing distance is available, that'd be a step in the right direction. Downvoters from the "I have to be somewhere, I can not be held up behind a bicyclist" camp might consider that not all bicyclists are out spaffing around any more than all drivers are out joyriding. Happy trails, all.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: visibility -v- illumination [was: My wife's car has automatic headlights.]

          > technology can be tweaked to force drivers to either pass bicyclists with at least 36" clearance

          So you're saying it's not safe for cyclists to enter a gap between vehicles less than 102" ? (36" + 30" (width of bike) + 36")

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: visibility -v- illumination [was: My wife's car has automatic headlights.]

            "So you're saying it's not safe for cyclists to enter a gap between vehicles less than 102" ? (36" + 30" (width of bike) + 36")"

            Don't be ridiculous. You know he wasn't saying that and a cyclist passing a stationary vehicle is NOT the same as a vehicle passing a cyclist and if you cant see that then I hope I never end up on the same road as you whatever vehicle I am on/in.

      6. earl grey Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

        " I know that would happily slap average speed cameras on every street corner,"

        Have to downvote you for approving rip-off technology and and then not wanting to take advantage of all the other. Sorry mate; makes no sense. I don't want my car or anyone else deciding stuff and just screwing me because it can.

      7. kiwimuso

        Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

        @ Lee D

        "I'm heavily of the opinion that it's BILLIONS-TO-ONE against the human NEEDING to accelerate in an emergency situation unless they'd be an ABSOLUTE pillock of a driver just seconds before anyway"

        Well there I have to disagree with you.

        I had an occasion driving late at night on one of Melbournes 'freeways' which are 2 or 3 lanes in either direction. It was about 1 a.m. with very little traffic but raining with a wet road. About 100 or so metres in front of me was a Porsche, the only other vehicle on my side of the road. Both of us were inside the speed limit (it was raining after all) when suddenly the Porsche turned right and slammed head on into the central barrier, and stopped dead hard up against it. I start to slow down, with every intention of stopping to see if the driver is OK. As I am slowing down and within 30 to 50 metres, the Porsche suddenly starts slowly rolling backwards towards the near side lane. The road was slightly banked to the outside. It was too late to brake hard, (I am not sure of the exact distance now, as it happened a while ago, but I do know that it was too close to initiate braking) as I was very likely to just lock up and slide into it, which would have T-boned the driver's door. I dropped it 2 gears and floored it, aiming left. I reckon I cleared both the car and the near side barrier with about inch to spare. If this so-called 'smart car' had initiated a slow down, or enforced braking I would undoubtedly have T-boned the Porsche.

        Admittedly, that's the only time I have ever had the need to accelerate to get out of danger, although I could probably put my mind to other situations, but in this one case the last thing I wanted was some idiot car deciding what I should be doing.

        As far as I am concerned based on that single incident, that is the end of the argument. I want to be in total control of what the car does, and when it does it

        Everything else you state, I am in full agreement with. I don't mind the aids, such as ABS (which might have helped if the car had it, but I'm still not sure I would have entirely trusted it under those circumstances), engine efficiency aids, and even traction control, but forcing actions upon the drive is just plain unsafe.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

      I've found that my automatic lights will often turn off when the day gets sufficiently bright, even if it happens to be foggy at the time. On several occasions I've left home on a dark foggy morning, and noticed the lights switch themselves off as it brightens, so I had to manually switch them on again. A handy gadget at times, but no replacement for actually paying attention and driving the car yourself.

    4. Fink-Nottle

      Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

      > This is *my* fault. I am not blaming the car in the slightest. But with these features comes an over-reliance on technology which is inherently dangerous.

      My adaptive speed control cannot distinguish a stationary vehicle in from of the car from the background scenery, and will not react to it.

      I can anticipate these situations, but it's often crossed my mind that an inexperienced driver might become over-reliant on the system and panic when he/she realised the car wasn't slowing down automatically.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

        > I can anticipate these situations, but it's often crossed my mind that an inexperienced driver might become over-reliant on the system and panic when he/she realised the car wasn't slowing down automatically.

        Alternatively, people could just read the manual, as it's explained in there in all detail.

        On some article the other day there was mention of discussion of a special licence for "self-driving" cars. That would make a lot of sense.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Human nature

    Like all safety features - people may start to depend on them rather than their own judgement. There is a danger that drivers will stop paying attention to their speed. They will assume that the control will keep them at the legal maximum.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Human nature

        "That would stop speeding. Dead."

        The Spike is reckoned to be the best thing to teach drivers to drive properly.

        And has been highly recommended by Police driving instructors and other advanced driving instructors for years..

        Even the thought of what happens when brakes are applied rapidly and driver is not wearing a seat belt seems to be alien to many drivers.

        1. Electron Shepherd

          Re: Human nature

          The trouble with ideas like that is that they fail to account for the other side of accidents. If every car has the proverbial spike sticking out of the steering wheel, no seat belts and no air bag, and when I'm sat at the lights an inattentive driver crashes into the back of me at 50mph, the spike causes further injury to me, even though the accident was not my fault.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Human nature

            " when I'm sat at the lights an inattentive driver crashes into the back of me at 50mph, "

            But the notion says that there won't be an inattentive driver, because of the spike on his steering wheel.

            The "spike in the steering wheel" idea is nothing more than a thought experiment but quite a good one.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Human nature

              @ werdsmith

              "The "spike in the steering wheel" idea is nothing more than a thought experiment but quite a good one."

              It is only a good one when considered across the whole spectrum of interaction in public. Some people like to argue that when a driver kills someone the person is dead. But I like to point out that when a driver kills someone they are haunted for the rest of their lives. If both drivers and pedestrians considered both sides then there would be less deaths. When someone proposes that thought experiment I always counter that spikes should also be on the front of the vehicle. Because while the lack of attention is likely the killer, it is not always (but sometimes) the drivers lack of attention. However the car already being lethal doesnt stop the worst of suicidal behaviour by pedestrians.

          2. Fink-Nottle

            Re: Human nature

            > when I'm sat at the lights an inattentive driver crashes into the back of me at 50mph, the spike causes further injury to me, even though the accident was not my fault.

            I speak from experience when I say a defensive driver should anticipate situations where cars could approach from the rear at a high speed, look in the mirror regularly - even when stationary - and leave enough room for manoever in an emergency.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Human nature

            > and when I'm sat at the lights an inattentive driver crashes into the back of me at 50mph, the spike causes further injury to me, even though the accident was not my fault.

            What do you mean it wasn't your fault? The lights were GREEN.

      2. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: Human nature

        Had this one actually been implemented I would not be here, and through no fault of my own. In fact without seat belts I almost certainly wouldn't be here. No, I wasn't speeding (neither was the driver who pulled out in front of me).

      3. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Human nature

        @ Symon

        "They should ban selt belts and airbags and put a massive barbed spike sticking out the middle of the steering wheel."

        It is amazing the hatred of drivers by what is most likely someone who drives. I hear it often that a spike on the steering wheel would be good, often by people thinking of themselves as pedestrians or cyclists (push bike). The thing is while there are bad drivers (of course there are) people like to harp on about how it is the driver with the dangerous weapon. But would you believe it on the roads? How many pedestrians step in front of your car without looking (at least 2 on the way to work this morning)? How many push bikes running red lights and pulling blindingly stupid manoeuvres (many I have seen just this week)? Yet it is the driver who is to blame automatically because people assume the metal shell, even when travelling at expected speeds and using caution, should be able to stop in an instant and drivers should be telepathic. I wonder if you advocate spikes on the front of the vehicle to deter lack of attention when crossing a road or cycling through lights, but spikes aint needed (the car can already be lethal) and that doesnt stop idiots.

        There are good people and bad people regardless. Some are behind the wheel, some are walking, some are cycling. But to blame drivers automatically for all these people is stupid. 'If the car wasnt speeding the person might not be dead' compares with 'if the person looked before running into the road they might not be dead'. We all need to be aware and competent.

        As for this 'safety' feature I expect it to be confused by the massive mistake that is our road system, occasionally designed to catch people out and the rest of the time just ends up that way. If such a feature does actually work I expect tax's to shoot up as the cash cow of the 'speed trap' fails to make enough money (or they will be more crafty at tripping people up).

        We have a road system hostile to drivers. Speed limits reduced to make up for bad planning and stupid/suicidal people (occasionally for actual reasons of reducing accidents). Speed traps which in some cases really are designed to make it severely easy to be caught out and roll in the money, as well as dubious practices. High tax's against drivers and the automatic assumption the driver is at fault. There is a decent list of attacks on drivers, because it is a necessity.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Human nature

            @ Symon

            "You hear that whooshing noise? That's the point of my post flying over your head."

            And I would suggest the 7 others who down voted the comment probably assuming you were serious. Sorry if you didnt mean it but that is an often trotted out argument by some seriously disturbed or unthinking individuals (some really do seem to want drivers impaled while others just seem to thick to think about it). Elmer Phud seems to support your comment in a serious way too. Maybe he is kidding too.

            "As for "there are bad drivers, of course there are" posted by codejunky. Not you though, I bet. I wonder if you're one of the 88% of drivers from Lake Wobegon who think they're in the top 50% for safety?"

            Why on earth would I think that or care? If we are immaculate drivers to the point of zero accidents there is still a relative range of driving safety and 50% is smack in the centre. Before such a statistic could be worth anything there needs to be an absolute baseline established somewhere to say what percentage are actually bad drivers as you cannot move more than half the people to above 50%. Instead I look to the number of accidents I have been involved in and most importantly the cause of. I am happy with my record. Are you?

            In fact if I am somewhere in the lower percentages you should be extremely happy as driving standards must be generally good.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Human nature

          "We have a road system hostile to drivers"

          No we don't. There were 23,530 dead or seriously injured in the UK in 2013. As with smoking, if driving were invented today there would be many more restrictions than there are. In car entertainment systems which distract, vehicles which can exceed 70 mph, smoking in a moving vehicle, not allowing pedestrians absolute right of way when not on a main road, not making all drivers pass an advanced driving / HGV level of test, allowing motorcycles to filter (allowing motorcycles at all?) - the list is long

          I own 2 cars, 2 bicycles and a motorcycle, btw.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Human nature

          I suspect that some people will say it because the risks from driving are mostly externalised, which leads to risk compensation. But most are probably saying it tongue in cheek.

      4. Amorous Cowherder
        Facepalm

        Re: Human nature

        "Yes, stupid safety features. They should ban selt belts and airbags and put a massive barbed spike sticking out the middle of the steering wheel. That would stop speeding. Dead."

        They should also make it compulsory to learn to read a comment, weigh up the relative merits and then make a sensible comment in return. Instead we have the "unlicensed" with their utterly stupid knee-jerk reactions.

        I interpreted the OP AC comment as simply making a point that safety features are all well and good but should be designed to consider that human override is appropriate sometimes. ABS braking, no human override, airbags no override, sign reading speed limiters yes override allowed.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Human nature

          I can override air bags in my car. Putting a child seat in would injure the child if the airbag went off.

      5. launcap Silver badge

        Re: Human nature

        > massive barbed spike sticking out the middle of the steering wheel

        Or disallow someone from taking their car test until the have a certain number of hours on a motorbike or scooter (with potential medical exemptions).

        Nothing like being on two wheels to teach you that you are not invulnerable..

        (amusingly, I've never had a crash over 10mph* and had more in the car than I ever did on a bike)

        *Yes, yes, queue the jokes about 'you need to drive/ride faster then.

    2. Tom 13
      Devil

      Re: Human nature

      What? You took the talking head seriously when he claimed this was about safety?

      Complete malarkey! As the article correctly notes without emphasizing, this is all about avoiding those automated tickets.

  7. Graham Marsden
    Facepalm

    Another nail in the coffin...

    ... of intelligent driving.

    "But Constable, I couldn't have been speeding because my car has this clever feature!"

    "Were you looking at your speedometer, Sir?"

    "Well, no, because my car has this clever feature..."

    Or, of course, there's this story about Drivers caught by fake 40mph Speed Limit Signs

    PS El Reg, you don't have to be a "petrolhead" to understand that it is *inappropriate* speed for the conditions that is the real danger, so this system will still let you do the National Limit on a road that is wet, dark, socked in by fog, full of traffic etc, which is entirely legal, but incredibly stupid.

    We need to *educate* drivers better, not take the decision making process away from them.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Another nail in the coffin...

      Yes much fun will be had with fake signs.

      Such a poor idea anyway - if you want to build a technology solution, what about using GPS and a government supplied speed map? Many cars now already have GPS mapping.

      Another idea - drivers licensed according to training and experience - e.g. your licence is on a USB stick/mobile phone etc. Young/stupid/convicted - speed limited, passenger limited etc.

      I agree with Graham.

    2. dogged

      Re: Another nail in the coffin...

      Another danger is inappropriate speed limits.

      For example, three years ago a car full of teenagers doing about 90mph on a blind bend smashed through the trees and killed all occupants just outside Devizes. The council, in their "wisdom" have responded by making the whole 3 mile stretch a 30mph zone (previously it was National Limit).

      Any experienced driver using this clear, wide country A road with only one bend will find themselves doing at least 40 (especially those massive arseholes who do 40 all the time in every zone, but I digress) and those who actually stick to the limit get overtaken and that is going to lead to accidents.

      The council naturally see it as a way to plant speed traps and gain revenue but it's making an accident into a tragedy.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Another nail in the coffin...

        It's always the case that inappropriate speed is the problem. And councils love to slap inappropriately low speed limits on roads where some idiot somehow manages to lose control on an otherwise open, clear road with a minor curve in it. It must make them feel good about doing something...

        Other than the 40 milers, who are seemingly oblivious to every other road user or speed limit and likely get a nose bleed if their car approaches 50mph (especially on an accelleration lane joining a motorway), the most dangerous drivers are those who drive too close to others or just the wrong speed for the circumstance. Driving 30mph in a 30mph zone is fine, but not when you're 30cm behind the car in front. Likewise driving 30mph in a 30mph zone around a 90 degree blind corner is stupid as well.

        But appropriate speed doesn't matter, it is far more important to rake in cash, demonise those who drive safely but get caught going over the speed limit a bit (I'm not advocating speeding, just trying to be realistic). Of course then comes the entirely valid, but annoying, argument that the 30mph speed limit is not a target speed, it's the maximum.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Another nail in the coffin...

          Indeed - I'm currently trying to fend off an attempt to change the limit in my road from 30-with-humps-and-traffic-calming to 20-but-we'll-take-the-humps-away.

          I have still not yet had a response to my request for the evidence for the *need* for this (there have been no incidents in fifteen years I've lived there) and plenty of anecdotal observation that what is required is actually no more than a couple of zebra crossings...

          1. Hellcat

            Re: Another nail in the coffin...

            My whole village has been enclosed in a 20mph ghetto. I don't remember in the 30 years I've lived here there ever being a serious incident. So within a week of the 20mph limit we have a cyclist under a car, and a major T-bone at a junction.

            So now those of us who were driving at an appropriate speed are caught in a sticky situation. Do under 20mph and comply with the law, but have less considerate drivers tailgating and overtaking in a residential area, which has happened many many times. Or break the law by a few mph but reduce the chance of a dangerous situation happening.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Another nail in the coffin...

              Which village is that Hellcat? It would be good to look at the accident stat's.

        2. BitDr

          Re: Another nail in the coffin...

          The posted maximum is generally set far too low. It should indicate the maximum safe speed at which the roadway can be traversed under ideal conditions, whereas it would be more appropriate to describe existing speed limits as the maximum safe speed the roadway can be traversed in an ox cart with wobbly wooden wheels in dire need of maintenance.

      2. JP19

        Re: Another nail in the coffin...

        "car full of teenagers doing about 90mph on a blind bend"

        We got new speed limit after a fatal accident caused by a German on holiday forgetting which side of the road we drive on - at least yours had something to do with speed.

      3. kiwimuso
        Facepalm

        Re: Another nail in the coffin...

        @Dogged

        "three years ago a car full of teenagers doing about 90mph on a blind bend smashed through the trees and killed all occupants just outside Devizes. The council, in their "wisdom" have responded by making the whole 3 mile stretch a 30mph zone"

        Which reminds me of the road just outside Farnborough towards Fleet in Hampshire which had a 40 mph limit. A guy on a motorcycle got himself killed, so the local LibDem goody-goody made a big fuss until the limit was reduced to 30mph.

        Now just so we're all completely clear on how this will reduce the road toll, the motorcyclist was apparently doing in excess of 60mph, overtaking 1 or more cars, on the other side of a pedestrian safety island in the middle of the road, and just to cap things off, it was also adjacent to a junction with a side road on the opposite side of the road. Quite what he did to kill himself, I know not, but I'll leave you to guess at the number of different possibilities available to him. If he was a gambling man he certainly knew how to increase his odds!!

        Now I don't know about you, but I am little unclear as to how reducing the speed limit to 30mph would have prevented the accident. Oh, he says, the speed limit has been reduced so I'll overtake the cars at just 50, eh!

        As I keep saying repeatedly, you can't legislate for idiots.

        The bottom line is you can put all of these clever bits in a car, reduce speed limits to where you might as well have a man walking in front carrying a red flag, and STILL, there would be idiots who would manage to kill themselves or other people.

    3. Elmer Phud

      Re: Another nail in the coffin...

      "We need to *educate* drivers better, "

      Yup, like 'don't whinge about being caught in a 50 mph zone -- use yer fekking cruise control!'

      and 'those signs -- they do NOTmean that it is safe to drive at that speed anywhere on this road -- YOU are supposed to be incontrol of the vehicle.

    4. Little Mouse

      Re: Another nail in the coffin...

      This is a totally redundant feature as far as I'm concerned. I already have a handy "device" that lets me know when I'm driving too fast. Also lets me know when I'm in the "wrong" gear, the wrong lane, going the wrong way. Also questions whether my lights are on, alerts me me to "funny burning smells", reminds me not to play with the on-board tech whilst I'm driving, etc. And on and on and on and on...

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Another nail in the coffin...

        Little mouse, I am assuming you are referring to your wife or mother in law!:

    5. launcap Silver badge

      Re: Another nail in the coffin...

      > you don't have to be a "petrolhead" to understand that it is *inappropriate* speed for the conditions that is the real danger,

      *ding* *ding* *din<crash>

      Oops. Broke the ringer..

      The only times I ever got caught going a tad too fast on the bike was by bike cops. And mostly they were more concerned about whether I was riding safely (according to the conditions) rather than obeying the (sometimes) arbitrary road limits.

      1. damworker

        Re: Another nail in the coffin...

        Yes, it's great having a vehicle which doesn't have a number plate at the front.

  8. Blofeld's Cat
    Happy

    Hmm...

    Does this mean that if I put the number ten in a circle on the back of my getaway car, I can create a slow moving knot of traffic to delay the cars chasing me?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm...

      I can see hours of fun to be had making your own low speed signs and placing out to slow traffic down.

      ;-)

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Hmm...

        You realise that realistic fake signs would work on human drivers too, a lot of the time?

        1. BitDr

          Re: Hmm...

          Not nearly as reliably though.

    2. djack

      Re: Hmm...

      "Does this mean that if I put the number ten in a circle on the back of my getaway car, I can create a slow moving knot of traffic to delay the cars chasing me?"

      I'm pretty sure that the camera in my car has reacted to those maximum speed stickers you sometimes see on the back of lorries that look like a speed limit sign.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm...

        > 'm pretty sure that the camera in my car has reacted to those maximum speed stickers you sometimes see on the back of lorries that look like a speed limit sign.

        Your car won't like my wheelie bin then ...

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Hmm...

          My phone GPS knows the speed limits on all roads anyway - it's almost creepy how as you drive past a speed limit sign the phone displays the new limit within a few metres.

          With an internet connection it can know temporary restrictions too, but realistically such a system doesn't HAVE to cover every special case when the driver retains responsibility.

  9. Aslan

    Not on the Mustang = bullshit posturing from Ford.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Don't worry

    If it cuts the income from speeding fines it'll soon be banned. In fact, it might already be illegal. Devices which detect speed-traps are illegal as is warning drivers about speed-traps. "Should travelling downhill cause the vehicle to exceed the legislated speed an alarm is sounded" - this would appear to fall into the same category.

    1. Neil Alexander

      Re: Don't worry

      It's not warning you about a speed trap though, it is warning you that you have exceeded the set limit. The car doesn't know or care if you are near a speed trap or not.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Don't worry

        OTOH, unless it's clarified by legislation or a Statutory Instrument the only way for you or I to actually know whether it's illegal would be a ruling by a court.

        In the meantime, consider what might happen if you were to stand with a placard saying "Slow down" just round the corner from a speed-trap. And the efficacy of a defence of "I was only warning drivers they had exceeded the set limit".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fascinating

    http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/gun-deaths-versus-car-deaths/?_r=0

    In 14 US states guns killed more people than motor accidents, but still we must stop motor vehicles? - "think of the children!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fascinating

      Did it mention the other 37 States?

  12. Dr_N Silver badge

    France Rain Speed Limit

    Will it be hooked into the wipers so that it deducts 20kph from the posted limit when raining?

    Also will it recognize the town name signs (and the crossed out name one when leaving a town/village) which infer a 50kph limit and return to national speed limit too?

    Wouldn't it just be cheaper to teach people to drive by running old public service style ad campaigns to make certain types of driving habits/behaviour anti-social?

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: France Rain Speed Limit

      Doesn't seem to work at all -- mobile phone juggling is far to common, as is the 'cross-hands' steering and gearchange' and the 'I can prop the phone under my chin while I navigate heavy traffic' or the 'I MUST always stop well in front of the white line'.

      Can't legislate for twatability.

      1. Def Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: France Rain Speed Limit

        Can't legislate for twatability.

        Well, you can. You'll just never get a chance though, because first you'd have to get all the twats to vote you in in the first place. (Obviously when I say 'twat', I mean everyone who isn't me or you, the reader. ;)

        1. Sarah Balfour

          Re: France Rain Speed Limit

          Speaking of twats, and having been the victim of a couple of *VERY* near misses when a car careered on to the pavement, and the twats found to be WELL in excess of the alcohol limit both times, I'm in favour of a built-in breathalyser, linked to the ignition, which would automatically disable it should it deem you to be too inebriated to drive.

          I'm sure drunk-driving injures/kills FAR more than speeding.

      2. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: France Rain Speed Limit

        @Elmer Phud "Doesn't seem to work at all"

        Oh I don't know a few months of ads featuring a tagline along the lines of:

        "Think once. Think twice. Think C**T!"

        would have people adhering to more responsible behaviour.

  13. wolfetone Silver badge

    I can see the market in second hand cars that don't include all this crap to boom within the next few years. I, for one, won't buy a car that will stop me doing what I want to do.

  14. PapaD

    Bad training

    The problem is, the testing process for checking whether people are fit to drive (driving test) will penalise you for not hitting the 'target' speed

    I was failed on one of my tests because I failed to reach the posted speed limit (60mph) on a road that had a hairpin bend at the end, with an immediate (and very visible) marked area where the limit dropped to 30mph

    I'd driven the road many times, and found that if I accelerated enough to come close to the speed limit, I'd have to slam the anchors on when I hit that bend, to be able to take it safely and be under 30mph in the relevant 30mph zone. I'd previously worked out that 50mph was a safe speed to take that stretch of road.

    I was failed, it was the only negative mark on an otherwise pristine test sheet - my instructor went nuts when he was informed what I failed on.

    So, for all that good drivers know that knowing your road, and using an appropriate speed for the road and conditions is what matters, testers don't give a monkeys about realistic driving, only about 'letter of the law' driving, and they do seem to look at speed limits as targets.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Bad training

      I don't disagree, but I think the far bigger problem is the lack of meaningful testing at all and the lack of any requirement for actual experience. It's generally accepted that you need 10,000 hours or so of practice to master a skill. Yet you're given a full driving license with no further training or checks after just a few hours (I'm not sure exactly how much training I had, but it can't have been more than 20 or 30 hours at most). And if you then don't drive for the next decade, you're allowed to get straight back in a car with no concern for how much you might have forgotten. Or you can drive for the next 70 years with no concern for how your skills might have deteriorated over that time. Perhaps most ridiculous of all is that it's actually illegal to learn how to drive on motorways until it's legal for you to freely use them unsupervised.

      There's a reason most jobs have regular appraisals, and things like first aid and coaching qualifications, even just for hobbies, require regular training and evidence that you're keeping your skills current. But for some reason with driving you get a single test once and you're good for the rest of your life. No amount of laws telling people what they should be doing or technology to try to force them to do it can compensate for not actually teaching them to do it properly in the first place and regularly checking that they're still competent.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Bad training

        Ten thousand hours, though - that's potentially half a million miles. That's fifteen years even at the stupid miles I drive...

        1. launcap Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Bad training

          > Ten thousand hours, though - that's potentially half a million miles

          The 10K hours rule is also a myth..

          1. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: Bad training

            "The 10K hours rule is also a myth.."

            I wouldn't call it a myth. Certainly the idea that you need exactly 10k hours, no more, no less, would be ridiculous, but as a nice round number representing the idea that you need to spend a lot of time doing something to become an expert, it's really not that bad. It's often brought up in relation to musical instruments, and that's not a bad analogy here. Not everyone needs to spend decades of their life dedicated to being one of the world's best, but the drivers we allow on our roads are the equivalent of an 11 year old strangling a cat with their violin. Or worse, someone who was once like that but is now in their 30s and hasn't touched a violin once in the intervening 20 years but is still treated as if they are a competent professional musician.

            10k hours certainly shouldn't be taken as gospel, but it's a good illustration of the gap between the practice and experience required for competence/expertise, and what we actually require of people before letting them loose on the road.

            I should also note that I'm well aware of the problems actually requiring a sensible amount of practice would cause - no-one would be able to drive before their 30s and most people would never be able to find the time and money to manage even that. The trouble is that as things stand, since finding a solution is tricky we, as a country, just throw up our hands and don't even bother looking for one. Instead of thinking about how to produce good drivers, we just make stupid laws punishing people for not having the competence we never required them to have in the first place.

      2. Roger Greenwood

        Re: Bad training

        "you get a single test once and you're good for the rest of your life"

        Retraining is already compulsory for coach drivers and now wagon drivers (HGV) in UK. How long before this reaches down to the rest of us?

        Sooner the better I say. Nut behind the wheel is the least regulated and most unreliable component and we all know it (doesn't apply to me of course).

  15. Little Mouse
    Thumb Up

    "In Finland traffic fines are proportionate to your income"

    Little Mouse Likes this

    1. Sarah Balfour

      Re: "In Finland traffic fines are proportionate to your income"

      SJ likes this, too, was about to make a similar comment. Perhaps, if it was implemented here, we'd have far fewer rich dicks in Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Lotuses, or whatever the cock-extender du jour is, believing themselves to be above the law coz they know that, when they're caught, all they'll be fined is a week's 'pocket-money' and, if the worst happens, well there's always Daddy's solicitor…

      Happens a fair bit where I, unfortunately, am forced to live.

  16. Seanmon

    I'm sure...

    ..there's issues that need to be worked out with this. But nothing I'd imagine a small and strategically positioned piece of gaffer tape couldn't resolve.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Tape

    If the tech uses a camera, the good old gray tape solve the problem...

  18. Simon Rockman

    We should have annual driving tests. Politically that would be impossible so we should start with a test when you have to renew your licence, every ten years.

    New drivers should have a licence which only lasts five years, and then be tested every five years, and after that has run for a while it should be annual. This would allow the test infrastructure to build.

    Cars are getting very easy to drive and we need to keep on top of skills.

    1. launcap Silver badge

      > test when you have to renew your licence, every ten years

      What is this 'renew your license' of which you speak? I don't have to..

      (Still got the old-type license. Sure, it's held together with document tape, still has the [now very expired] speeding points on it and is pretty battered from years of bike-jacket occupancy, but they'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands before I'll 'upgrade' it to a photo license.

      I object to the fake 10-year renewal money scam and the common stories of allowed vehicle categories somehow failing to get migrated to the new license.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another reason not to buy a Ford.

  20. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    If the gov was really bothered about speeders

    they'd have mandated something like this on all new cars sold in the UK. And mandated it is always on when driving public roads, except for situations like overtaking.

    I've been thinking this for some years now. The fact the techonology has been feasible for several years now and is starting to go mainstream, yet is not mandated, suggests the government is not really as bothered about speeding as they say.

    If speeding is such a terrible scourge on society, surely gov should be taking active steps to stop drivers speeding. The technology exists. They could mandate its use and gradually cuts down the number of drivers that can break the speed limit. But instead, they choose to keep the revenue stream from speeding fines.

    I am not in favour of this, btw. Just suggesting the government is being duplicitous in complaining too many people speed yet not forcing the use of technologies that can actively prevent it.

    Likewise they could take steps to prevent uninsured driving, drunk driving - far greater dangers to other road users than someone going 5mph over the limit - with what nowadays is cheap and simple hardware. They choose not to.

    </EndRant>

    1. chris 17 Bronze badge

      Re: If the gov was really bothered about speeders

      @ Jimmy2Cows

      except for situations like overtaking

      everyone would be permanently overtaking then like the twat who over took me in a 30 when i was doing 30 the other week.

  21. OpinionatedPerson

    Mmm, I wouldn't trust Ford's sign reading

    Having experienced the traffic sign reading first hand in my Ford Focus, the traffic sign technology is actually pretty rubbish:

    * It reads the speed limit signs on the back of many lorries - 100kph for example

    * It reads the speed limit part of early earning signs - e.g. on the signs warning you of a limit coming up, 0.5mile before the limit is actually in force

    * It randomly turns vehicle sign writing into no overtaking traffic signs or random speed limits

    * It completely misses signs even when visible to the human eye for no obvious reason

  22. Red Bren

    Business Opportunity

    Sales of these will go through the roof. Just stick one in front of the sensor...

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B002QVOHSM/ref=mp_s_a_1_21?qid=1427287954&sr=1-21&pi=AC_SX110_SY165&keywords=road+signs+toys&dpPl=1&dpID=51Jw0sRobnL&ref=plSrch

  23. Zog The Undeniable

    I see an increasing number of cars driving around in total darkness with no lights at all, not even sidelights. I blame (a) dash lighting linked to the ignition, rather than to the lights and (b) people thinking all cars now have automatic headlights.

    A black car being driven through town at night with no lights is a scary prospect. I've seen it (only just, though).

    1. Little Mouse

      Are you sure it wasn't a Ghost car?

  24. Steve Evans

    Ah the joys of "letter of the law" enforcement...

    It seems to be the solution to everything... The fact that someone driving past a school at 3am in the dry doing 35mph is far less dangerous to anyone and everyone than someone driving past the same school at 29mph in pouring rain at school kick-out time (yes, I know, the chances of being able to do anything more than 5mph getting past all the parked 4x4 is slim at best!).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear....

    That'll be fun! The speed limit detection isn't always 100% accurate - it'll pick up 30 signs on slip roads some times when the limit for the road you're on is 50 or NSL. It'll even pick up the limits listed on the back of some vans/lorries, so you could end up doing 40mph on the motorway because its just seen it on the back of a lorry!

  26. chris 17 Bronze badge

    Mercedes have had this as an option on their cars (i've driven C & E classes with this) for at least 4 years now. I got the impression this was a COTS system developed by Bosch and selectively added to cars by the manufacturers.

    Nice ford add by the reg :)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does the UK pander dangerous drivers?

    Fine #1: 10% annual salary

    Fine #2: 15% annual salary, 6 month ban

    Fine #3: 20% annual salary, lifetime ban

    The signs are everywhere, you have a speedo (which reads over the actual speed, by the way), and (one presumes) a license. Holding a steady 30/40/whatever *IS NOT DIFFICULT* (if you find it hard, you are unfit to drive).

    There is no excuse to break the limit. *EVER*

    The cretins who speed will be the same ones not stopping at amber, staying in the overtaking lanes, tailgating and blocking junctions. Get them off the roads permanently.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why does the UK pander dangerous drivers?

      > There is no excuse to break the limit. *EVER*

      I'm aware that the balance of probability is that you are either trolling or an MP (in which case - did your PA explain what all the difficult words meant?) but you suffer from a severe deficit or either road knowledge or ability to think that..

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Why does the UK pander dangerous drivers?

        "either trolling or an MP"

        Or a spokesperson for Brake.

    2. Simon Rockman

      Re: Why does the UK pander dangerous drivers?

      Read the article. Speed does not *directly* correlate with danger. There are plenty of dangerous things you can do without speeding and plenty of times when speeding is perfectly safe. Unfortunately no-one has built an automated system which can detect "driving like a knob".

      Given than over 42 people a day get caught and fined for speeding and that there must be at least two orders of magnitude more people who are either caught and let off or not caught it's pretty much proven that speeding in itself is not dangerous.

      In some circumstances it's contributory.

      Simon

      1. kraut

        Re: Why does the UK pander dangerous drivers?

        Given than over 42 people a day get caught and fined for speeding and that there must be at least two orders of magnitude more people who are either caught and let off or not caught it's pretty much proven that speeding in itself is not dangerous

        That does not even remotely follow.

        And while I agree that speeding per se isn't always a huge risk, e.g. on motorways(*), in towns it is. Because it's all about breaking distance, reaction time, and severity of impact - all of which are directly proportional to speed.

        (*) on motorways it's - IMHO - tailgating. A large proportion of drivers in the UK have no idea what constitutes a safe distance

    3. Steve Evans

      Re: Why does the UK pander dangerous drivers?

      Because sometimes the posted speed limits are totally inappropriate.

      There's a road near me (an A road) which used to be a 60mph zone... It's now a 40mph with a 30mph in the middle where there are some houses. I don't object to the 30mph with the houses, that's sensible.

      They also added pedestrian refuges in the middle too, which narrows the road.

      I have driven it almost daily for over 20 years. The accident rate has increased. Why? Because now when you are stuck behind a tractor (or granny, or Mr/Mrs 35mph everywhere, or more usually the local idiot on his horse and no helmet - Yes, there is someone that stupid), you can't pass easily. The road used to be wide enough for 3 abreast (it's almost straight), now thanks to the pedestrian refuges, it's not, so you either have to be very quick, or time it so you go right over to the far side of the road, the wrong side of the traffic islands.

      Oh, but at least the pedestrians are safe... Yes, hundreds of them... All crossing the road... I've never seen a single one... BECAUSE THERE IS ONLY A PAVEMENT ON ONE SIDE OF THE ROAD!!!! (The other side is just a grass verge and fields).

      I can't help but think a councilor has a house down there...

      That is why people ignore speed limits... Because often they just don't make any sense... A bit like the "fog" warning signs on motorways when you can see several miles, and have barely even seen mist in months.

  28. Marshalltown

    Well there's a relief

    At least it can be temporarily overridden. I've been in about three accidents over the course 4 decades of driving and none were due to excess speed. I've dodge a good many potential accidents by hitting the accelerator instead of the brake though. More importantly, it is far less likely to result in a bashed in rear bumper when the person behind you misses your brake lights.

    On the lighter side, this would put a whole new - ah - skid(?) on high speed car chases.

  29. streaky Silver badge

    Just Dangerous...

    No way to safely overtake, accidents caused, the end. Good job you can turn it off because nobody who doesn't want to die overtaking some tard in his caravan doing 52 in a 60 on a single lane road causing a mile-long tailback will want this. Surprised the IAM/RAC/AA et al have nothing to say about this. Also it's well known car speedos are clocked to make you think you're going faster than you really are, as proven by anybody with GPS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just Dangerous...

      If you don't want to die in the over-taking manoeuvre on a single lane road try exercising a little patience and wait until it's safe to do so.

      The majority of journeys in the UK are under five miles so at most it will add a couple of minutes to your trip, even if it feels longer.

  30. Davie Dee

    Yeah, so who gets sued when the system detects your speeding and slows you down for you only to be involved in accident because you didn't either know or expect what had just happened. lets add in to this the intelligent braking system which can automatically dictate when your approaching something to quick and brake for you and the steering system to try and avoid obstacles etc etc, I can see a legal minefield. Sorry officer, I dint mean to drive in to you, the car did it to avoid what it thought was a pedestrian crossing the road.

    I don't mind aids to cars and drivers, but we need to be careful, the human in the driving seat should always be 100% responsible for what happens

  31. Yugguy

    Automated traffic sign reading IS NOT NECESSARY

    You should be looking at the fecking road signs YOURSELF.

    Just yet more technology to isolate the driver from what's happening in the real world outside the windscreen.

    Too many drivers already don't look further than their bonnet, what happens down the road is a complete surprise to them.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: Automated traffic sign reading IS NOT NECESSARY

      I guess the vote-down was from one of those same such drivers.

      You just know that if this system is implemented, some twat will mow a kid down cos he's doing 60 in a 30, and his excuse will be "but my car said it was a 60 limit"

      My TT satnav reports part of the 50mph A45 near Coventry as 70mph.

      I use my EYES OUT OF THE WINDOW, so I know it's actually a 50 zone.

  32. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    speed kills

    thats the message the government throws at us all the time

    except its bullshit

    its bad driving that kills, because if speed kills , our motorways would be littered with the dead and dying, but they're the safest roads in the UK.

    In any case , the guy I saw joining the motorway at 30 miles an hour would be the safest guy on the road, instead of rammed sideways by a truck and flying into the central armco

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: speed kills

      In any case , the guy I saw joining the motorway at 30 miles an hour would be the safest guy on the road, instead of rammed sideways by a truck and flying into the central armco

      Exactly. If the traffic on the road is moving at 60mph (assume inside lane of motorway with trucks) then the safest speed to join the motorway is 60mph. This is why these things are called "accelleration lanes", to allow the joining vehicles to get to speed so they can safely join the road.

      Had an argument with the mother-in-law a few years back about how extremely dangerous it is to join a motorway at 30mph compared to 60/70mph. She just couldn't get it through her head that the gaps to join would effectively be larger and she would be less of an utter hazard to all following vehicles (who would also have to slow down to 30mph and also join dangerously). But this is the same woman who ignores all cyclists on the road and claims that "it's ok to drink and drive if you're local".

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mercedes already have the two technologies to handle this:

    Sign Recognition and Speed limiter they are just not (As far a I know) tied together - for practical purposes, ie roads where there are no signs, but common sense tells you that the 60mph country lane has ended and turned into a 30mph village.

    There are also a lot of cases where this just wont work -

    My one and only speeding fine was about 8 years ago on the a590, I'd just come off the motorway at about 8am on a Saturday morning and was on a national speed limit road (Signed as such) with a central reservation so I was flying along at 70... Little did I know that there is a section where the central reservation dips off.. its only about 1/4 of a mile, but the limit drops to 60 for that stretch of road... its still national speed limit though so there are no signs to tell you about the change.

    Long story short, there was a camera in the 1/4 mile of 60mph road, got a ticket for doing 70 in a 60.

    From what I have read the ford system will not help in situations like that...

    I'd be worried that Id get used to it and stop looking for the normal signs that the limit has changed then get caught out when it doesn't work as well as it should.

  34. Florida1920
    Big Brother

    Don't fear AI

    Fear Nanny-Tech.

  35. Dieter Haussmann

    I hope you can adjust the tolerance - say 10% over.

  36. TeeCee Gold badge
    Mushroom

    Meh!

    Makes no odds what gadgets they pile onto the PoS, whether I want them or not. I'll not consider a ruddy Ford until they change their seats for something suitable for those of us who aren't raving masochists.

  37. Herby Silver badge

    What does it do...

    ...when it reads the (formerly) sign that says "Resume Speed, Thank you" that were prevalent in Nevada in days of old (pre 1974). Does it accelerate to match the speed that others are going.

    My mom traveled on these roads and crossed Nevada (California to Utah) in 4 hours. I'll let those refer to map sites to figure out the average speed.

    I miss those days. Unlimited speed limits don't exist in my country. (*SIGH*)

  38. The little voice inside my head

    Directional RFIDs

    Instead of reading the speed limits via OCR, RFID technology could be used to set what the speed limit is in a certain area and have the cars read these signals.

    Make this mandatory for all vehicles with exceptions for police cars, ambulances and fire trucks, for eliminating traffic fines, safety first, right? And then the authorities would see how silly some speed limits are, when all traffic becomes congested. Can't overtake because already at the speed limit? How chaotic would that be?

    And for the plus side there would be no need to invest in speed traps or policemen with radars just hiding and waiting...

    Bad guys just wouldn't be able to hijack cars to get away...

    1. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Directional RFIDs

      "Can't overtake because already at the speed limit?"

      If you are already going at the speed limit why would you need to overtake?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Directional RFIDs

        "If you are already going at the speed limit why would you need to overtake?"

        Driver in front is erratic and it is safer in front than behind. Driver in front starts at 20mph until you get to the side of them locking you in the outside lane.

        Off the top of my head.

  39. Richard_L
    Black Helicopters

    This is just for starters...

    How long before the government realises that the addition of a 3G modem aboard the car would allow the car's camera and computers to read the speed limit sign, and if the car's over the limit, to then automatically report the driver for speeding over the 3G connection so that a fine and points can automatically be issued, before slowing the car down to under the limit...

    No more costs of maintaining speed cameras or dedicating traffic cops to patrol for speeding drivers, the car manufacturer foots the bill for the extra electronics, and then it's just kerchinggg!....

  40. Gerry 3

    Could be interesting on this 50mph road ! http://goo.gl/maps/LesJw

    But at least you wouldn't get flashed by the hidden cash machine a bit further on...

    http://goo.gl/maps/l9bep

  41. FreeBrad

    No-No Limits

    I've never liked fords much anyway so I will not miss never owning one. When the speed limits are set according to the vehicle that I am driving, the weather conditions and the road conditions at the particular time that I am using that road then I might consider capitulation. Until then they can shove their speed limits up their ........ Well you get the idea!

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