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Thursday, 05 September 2013 19:00

EU Exploring Scheme to Install Speed-Limiting Devices on Cars

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As the deeply unpopular Brussels-based European Union continues to usurp unprecedented powers over citizens and formerly sovereign national governments, another example of the EU gone wild just hit the headlines. Under its latest controversial scheming, supposedly aimed at improving “road safety,” all civilian cars within the 28-member state bloc could be fitted with a device to prevent speeding — essentially preventing any speed in excess of 70 miles per hour through automatic controls.

Critics, including senior U.K. officials, are already lambasting the idea, with more than a few invoking the name of George Orwell and his infamous “Big Brother.” Opponents say it is an invasion of privacy, a potential safety hazard, the wild ideas of a nanny state in need of restraint, and more. The increasingly out-of-control EU, meanwhile, is defending its consideration of the scheme while claiming that a flurry of British media accounts about it are misleading. 

According to multiple news reports and documents about the technology, one alternative under consideration is a system that would work by using cameras in cars to detect speeding. If a vehicle is traveling faster than the speed limit, the car could start automatically applying the brakes — or at least loudly warning the driver to slow down under the less-Orwellian version of the schemes. Much of the technology to remotely control a car, which can be accessed by both hackers and governments, is already in cars today.

The controversial plan could also involve the use of satellites, which would reportedly communicate automatically with the vehicle and ensure that speed regulations are being obeyed. If approved, car manufacturers could be forced to install the devices on their new products, though in practice, much of the technology is already standard. Various reports also suggested that owners of existing cars could be forced to fit them with the speed-limiting technology.   

However, before a formal proposal has even been announced, British media accounts said that U.K. Transportation Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is already expressing his firm opposition to the plan. An unnamed “government source” reportedly told the Mail on Sunday that U.K. officials had been instructed to oppose the schemes because they “violated” motorists’ freedom.

“This has Big Brother written all over it and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people's backs up about Brussels,” the anonymous official was quoted as saying in the report, referring to the increasingly serious outrage among Britons about the perpetually expanding powers of the EU — fury that could even lead to secession if voters get their way. “The Commission wanted his views ahead of plans to publish the proposals this autumn. He made it very clear what those views were.”

Speaking to the Press Association for an article that appeared the U.K. Guardian, another unnamed “government source” echoed those statements on the transportation secretary’s views. "It is definitely something that he is keen to resist and he has told officials that it is something we don't want to do,” the source was quoted as saying. “To be forced to have automatic controls in your car amounts to Big Brother nannying by EU bureaucrats."

A spokesman for the British Automobile Association (AA), meanwhile, pointed out that the technology could potentially even create safety hazards in certain situations. “If you were overtaking a tractor and suddenly needed to accelerate to avoid a head-on collision, you would not be able to,” the spokesman was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail, one of the myriad dangers that could result from the implementation of the scheme.

Multiple news reports also quoted a spokesman for the European Commission, who sent out a statement about the scheme. “There is a currently consultation focusing on speed-limiting technology already fitted to HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) and buses,” the unnamed spokesman said. “Taking account of the results, the Commission will publish in the autumn a document by its technical experts which will no doubt refer to ISA (Intelligent Speed Adaptation) among many other things.”

However, following a massive outcry about government overstepping its bounds — especially among car enthusiasts, critics of the emerging super-state, and liberty-minded activists — senior EU officials tried hard to downplay the news. In a follow-up statement released by the European Commission, the unelected technocrats who largely dictate policy across the region claimed they were simply looking at the scheme as a potential “long-term” plan rather than something in the pipeline right now.

“The Commission has supported past research into ISA (Intelligent Speed Adaptation),” the statement conceded. “There is a current stakeholder consultation and study focusing on speed limiting technology already fitted to HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) and buses. One aspect of that is whether ISA could in the long-term be an alternative.”

The statement also complained that its previous statement had not been quoted in its entirety. Apparently, almost all of the news reports about the scheme left out one sentence sent by the spokesman, who said: “The Commission has not tabled — and does not have in the pipeline — even a non-binding Recommendation, let alone anything more.”

The outraged response by the eurocrat establishment also claimed, apparently falsely, that news reports about its scheming were “inaccurate beyond the limit.” However, based on numerous other statements made in the same response, it appears that the myriad articles were essentially all on the mark: The EU is indeed considering a plan and the associated technology needed to impose speed-limiting devices on drivers.

Toward the end of its response, the commission went on to claim that it was part of its “job” to “look at, promote research into and consult stakeholders” about “new road safety technology.” Apparently its scheming is done in “close cooperation” with “member states” and British authorities have “generally supported such efforts.” How far eurocrats would go in their supposed quest for “safety” remains unclear, but so far, real limits have not been identified.

Clearly furious as evident in the tone of the EU response, the unnamed author or authors of the commission’s retort went on to lambaste British officials. “It might indeed also seem strange to some that the UK government — if the press reports are accurate at least in that respect — apparently objects so violently to even being consulted about a range of future ways in which lives could be saved on Europe’s roads.” It was not clear who “some” might refer to other than the eurocrats who wrote the response.

Despite the EU’s protestations, this would hardly be the first wild power grab by the increasingly powerful super-state. As The New American reported this year, for example, the EU is seeking to ban all non-approved and non-registered seed varieties. It is also hauling the British government to a European "court" for not handing out enough welfare to immigrants, sparking a furious backlash that poured fuel on the already-raging secessionist fire.

Indeed, eurocrats today regulate everything from the size and shape of cucumbers to the containers used to serve olive oil in restaurants. They want to regulate everything else, too, as former Maoist revolutionary and current European Commission “President” José Manuel Barroso works fiendishly to create a “federation” that he says is “inevitable.” Critics, including sitting presidents, have said the Brussels-based entity is now in the final stages of smashing nationhood and “democracy” in the bloc.

As the EU steadily abolishes national sovereignty and self-government in Europe, President Obama announced a plan earlier this year to create a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). If approved by Congress, the radical scheme — long sought by the establishment — would aim to harmonize the American regulatory system with the EU’s nightmarish and perpetually expanding regime. Putting the brakes on this scheming would require imposing a speed limit of zero on government usurpations of power by the United States or EU. Critics of the planned TTIP power grab are urging concerned citizens to get involved and stop it before it is too late.      

Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 

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3 comments

  • Comment Link Thomas Marx Tuesday, 15 October 2013 08:49 posted by Thomas Marx

    The EU would be well advised not to publish every silly idea before rethinking its technical implications. In heavy trucks the obligatory so called "retarders" do nothing but limiting the maximum speed to 100 km/h (60 mph). In zones with speed limits below like inner cities, pedestrian or school zones with lower speed limits those retarders have no function. This means they are far from being "intelligent". "Intelligent" vehicle speed limiters this way have to recognize speed limit signals and here techincal difficulties start. On German Autobahns which have no speed limits at all, temporary speed limit signs can be illuminated during bad road conditions like fog or snow. Those limits however not always are displayed to be reversed when the danger is over. German traffic regulations explicitely state that drivers must be able to find out themselves when a danger is over, just as they must be able to recognize a danger as such. A speed limit in a fog bank with a visbility of less than 10 ft. which is common in the part of Germany where I come from would limit the car speed to 10 mph. The absence of an abolition signal (or if the device overlooks it) however would mean that a car would have a maximum speed of 10 mph until next summer or until another speed limit zone with a visble "end of limit" sign is crossed. Another problem are British cars. In Great Britain a speed limit sign showing "100" means "100 Miles per Hour" (169 km/h), whereas on the continent it means 100 km/h (60 mph). The third problem are "grey exports", new cars being exported to countries where they cost less, purchased there and being reimported into the EU. In countries outside the EU like Switzerland those cars wouldn't be required to have speed limiters. An EU legislation enforcing limiters in cars sold in the EU region simply would inflate the "grey market" (which is perfectly legal) to the disadvantage of the domestic car markets.

  • Comment Link Tony Butler Saturday, 07 September 2013 11:07 posted by Tony Butler

    The EU is not a democratic body. It's a communist type despotism, in which its selected but unelected Commissioners have total control over policy. It may consider the EU Parliament's decisions but, can simply ignore them.

    Like all communist despotisms, freedoms of any kind have to be asked for, and granted.

    No sane democracy would touch it with a barge pole.

    Here in Britain, we had a democracy before the advent of, Heath, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron Clegg, and Miliband. .

  • Comment Link REMant Thursday, 05 September 2013 20:36 posted by REMant

    If you've been in Europe Alex, you know there are few speed limits there and a lot of very fast drivers who intimidate others on the road. It's been like that for decades and this seems a cost-effective way to deal with the problem, while probably saving gas.

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