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Studies Show That Speed Alert Devices Reduce Speeding

In a November newsletter, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) highlighted several studies that show speed-alert devices are effective in reducing speeding when they are combined with coverage incentives.

These studies looked at a technology called intelligent speed adaptation (ISA), which uses GPS to locate a car, collects speed limit data for the surrounding area and then notifies the driver, using a variety of techniques if they exceed the speed limit.

The majority of ISA systems use audible and visual alerts if the car is speeding. Other systems make use of haptic alerts, which actually harden the accelerator, making it difficult for a driver to depress the gas pedal. Intervention systems go a step further and reduce the engine throttle causing the car to decelerate if the car goes above the speed limit.

These types of systems have been in use for years with commercial vehicles and are referred to as governors. They cap a car or trucks speed at a predetermined limit. The main difference with ISA’s is that they can be shut off and also give drivers control over setting the speed limits that activate the alerts and intervention.

Unfortunately, in the United States and Europe these systems have not yet been deployed on a large scale in private cars.

These systems Offer Plenty of Benefits

Studies of ISA systems have shown that they can be extremely effective when they are used in combination with insurance incentives. A two-year study by Aalborg University and Copenhagen University discovered that ISA systems combined with insurance discounts leads to less speeding.

The study found that drivers drove above the speed 13 percent of the time when ISA systems were not used. When an ISA was installed in their car and their performance was linked to an insurance discount for fewer speed notifications the rate of speeding dropped to four percent.

Another study which was collaboration between Western Michigan University, Old Dominion University and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found very similar results. The 50 participating drivers included 40 whose cars were outfitted with ISA systems. A percentage of that 40 drivers were paid up to $25 to stay within 4 mph of the speed limit and if they sped they lost money. The final 10 drivers did not have an ISA system and did not receive any cash.

Drivers who had an ISA system combined with the cash incentives almost never drove 9 mph or more over the speed limit, doing this less than 1 percent of the time they were behind the wheel. 

Drivers who did not have a warning system or cash incentives as well as the drivers who only had the ISA system but no incentives drove 9 mph over the limit around 9 percent of the time.

Despite the effectiveness of these systems, ISA technology is still not used in most private vehicles. The recently released “Most Wanted” list from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) included federally mandating collision-avoidance technology but did not mentions ISA systems.

ISA systems have been proven to reduce speeding, especially when combined with insurance incentives. Despite their effectiveness they are not used very often in passenger vehicles and the federal government is not pushing for their implementation.