The UK may not adopt European laws requiring all new cars to be fitted with smart speed limiters, Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has hinted.
From July all new cars sold in Europe will have to be fitted with Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) technology, which can detect local speed limits and apply them to the vehicle.
Previously, the Government’s Vehicle Certification Agency, which approves cars for use in the UK, said it would adopt the same regulation.
However, the Brexit Opportunities Minister suggested to MPs he would fight its introduction, claiming “It is not a policy that has received collective agreement” in Whitehall.
Questioned by the House of Commons’ European Scrutiny Committee over reports that the Government planned a consultation into mandatory ISA systems, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I see we are thinking - and I better be careful, because this may be Government policy, so I don’t want to upset collective responsibility too much - of putting speed limiters on people’s cars because the EU is doing it.
“Because the EU is doing it is no argument for doing anything any more.”
Intelligent speed assistance is already fitted to many modern cars and uses traffic sign recognition and/or GPS location data to determine local speed limits. It can then give a visual or audio alert and also limit engine power to prevent the car accelerating above that limit.
The system can be overridden by the driver pressing hard on the accelerator and the European Transport Safety Council, which proposed making ISA mandatory, has suggested that there should initially be an on/off control to completely deactivate it.
Safety groups have welcomed the planned technology but there are concerns over the reliability of such systems, particularly in areas with temporary speed limit changes or confusing signage.
The AA’s president, Edmund King, told the Telegraph: “The speed limits have to be totally accurate because the car is reacting to the speed limit. If you’ve got the wrong speed limit in the digital system, it might slow you to the wrong speed or allow you to speed to the wrong speed.”
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, warned that diverging from Europe on vehicle safety measures would be “bad for the industry”.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The UK’s departure from the EU provides us with the platform to capitalise on our regulatory freedoms.
“We’re currently considering the vehicle safety provisions included in the EU’s General Safety Regulation and will implement requirements that are appropriate for Great Britain and improve road safety.”