Intelligent speed adaptation

A new GPS for my vehicles has a feature that my old one didn’t – it lets me know when I am exceeding the speed limit by comparing my speed with the speed limit for most roads and highways. If I exceed this speed, the speed I am traveling at turns to red on my GPS.

Intelligent Speed Adaptation, also known as Intelligent Speed Assistance and Speed Alerting, is any system that constantly monitors vehicle speed and the local speed limit on a road and implements an action when the vehicle is detected to be exceeding the speed limit. According to information in the November issue of “Status Report” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), this technology to help drivers avoid speed-related crashes uses GPS to link a vehicle’s position to digital maps that include speed limits to determine if a vehicle is exceeding them by a preset amount, which drivers can specify in some cases. Some newer systems use cameras to read speed limit signs. What happens next depends on the ISA. The most common scenario involves an audible or visual alert telling the driver to slow down. Some ISA systems give a haptic (having to do with sense of touch) alert via the accelerator that makes it increasingly harder for the driver to depress the pedal. Intervention systems can reduce engine throttle to automatically decelerate a vehicle, according to the report.

In field studies, advisory ISA systems are sometimes coupled with economic incentives to not speed. Researchers who conducted the first naturalistic driving study of ISAs in the U.S. concluded that drivers who received modest cash incentives for not speeding were more likely to abide by posted limits than drivers of vehicles with ISAs limited to providing speed alerts, according to the IIHS. This has implications for the use of intelligent speed adaptation systems in conjunction with insurance premiums to significantly improve traffic safety. Wouldn’t many drivers drive at speeds closer to the posted limits if they received lower insurance rates? Apparently, the answer is yes.

For instance, in Denmark, researchers from Aalborg University and Copenhagen University evaluated an ISA combining speed advisories with insurance discounts and found that linking an ISA to incentives can reduce speeding, according to the article from “Status Report”. The calculated proportion of distance above the speed limit dropped from 13 percent in the baseline period to just below 4 percent in the study period. When drivers turned off the system, speeding relapsed to the baseline level.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep my eye on my GPS’s speed indicator and see how long I can drive with the indication in black. That will have to be incentive enough.

For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board’s web site at: and click on “Traffic Safety Board” under departments then look for Did You Know articles under “services.”