Officials in New York are mulling a bill that would mandate speed limiters in new vehicles that would be set to the local maximum allowable limit. The system would use GPS and traffic sign recognition technology to determine the speed limit.
The system has an appropriately benign and Orwellian name: Active Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA).
Senate Bill S9528 was introduced by Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman on Aug. 12 and, if passed, would require any vehicle manufactured or registered in the state of New York to be fitted with the ISA system, starting from Jan. 1, 2024. It cites the results of a study that show such a system could reduce traffic fatalities by 20%.
The bill also calls for existing active safety systems like automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors with pedestrian detection, driver drowsiness detection, and even a data event recorder to be mandated from the same date.
If you're thinking this sounds like a bad science fiction movie, New York City is already running a trial with 50 vehicles from the city's fleet fitted with an ISA system. The trial will run for six months.
"Speeding ruins lives, so we must take action to prevent it, and New York City is leading by example by implementing new technology to reduce speeds on city fleet vehicles," Eric Adams, New York City's mayor, said in a statement.
Critics of the system argue that in certain circumstances it’s vital to be able to go past the limit, such as during merging. A solution here could be to introduce the limit in stages. For example, first there could be a warning bell if the speed limit is exceeded. Then there could be a second, more serious warning, which if still ignored would then see the vehicle's speed automatically reduced.
Of course, it's not hard to imagine officials also using the system to constantly monitor a driver's speed and automatically issue fines should the speed limit be exceeded.
A saving grace, as Jalopnik notes, is that safety standards for new vehicles, unlike emissions standards, are set at the federal level, which brings into question whether New York officials will be able to implement the bill even if passed.
The bill is currently In Committee, which means it's under consideration. It has not passed the New York State Senate or State Assembly, and if it passes both it would have to be signed into law or vetoed by the governor.