If vehicle speed is one of the biggest traffic safety issues we face, why not use available technology to limit vehicles to (or at least near) the speed limit?
Sounds pretty straightforward. That’s why America Walks is urging the federal government to require this proven technology, Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), on all new vehicles. Like in Europe, where all new vehicles are required to have ISA by July 2024. For this same reason, we’ve launched our Safer Fleets Challenge, calling on cities and towns to start installing ISA on their fleets. We’re seeking 50 governments to take action to adopt ISA by 2025.
The idea is spreading. The National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended a “requirement for intelligent speed assistance technology in all new cars.” NTSB is an investigative and advisory agency, not a regulatory agency, so this will require USDOT to set standards for new motor vehicles.
I recently attended New York City’s Vision Zero Fleet Safety Forum, where I learned about the phenomenal success of the City’s ISA pilot program. Since the launch of New York City’s ISA pilot program in August 2022, vehicles utilizing ISA have driven over 133,400 miles and successfully traveled within speed limit parameters 99 percent of the time. City vehicles with ISA also saw a 36 percent reduction in hard braking events, which is often an indicator of unsafe driving. They are extending the pilot to 300 vehicles, including school buses and trucks.
Other governments are also embracing ISA retrofits for their fleets, including:
- Ventura County, CA: Fleet manager Jorge Bonilla, an early adopter of ISA, describes the county’s experience rolling out an ISA pilot.
- Somerville, MA: The city’s Department of Public Works has started a nine-vehicle ISA pilot, earning the City Council’s commendation in a resolution (looking for a template resolution for your city council? We have one!). Somerville plans to expand the pilot to 17 vehicles in 2024.
- King County, WA: The largest county in Washington is also moving ahead with an ISA pilot.
- Richmond, VA: The City’s Safe and Healthy Streets Commission recently recommended adoption of an ISA pilot to its City Council.
We anticipate that federal regulatory action will be slow. In contrast, local governments have the power to control their own vehicles. It’s a tangible action to back up proclamations that “safety is our highest priority,” and a meaningful step to achieving the Vision Zero goal of no deaths or serious injuries.
For that reason, we hope state and local advocacy organizations will include the Safer Fleets Challenge in their 2024 policy priorities. Experiences in New York City, Somerville, and Ventura County show we can start addressing excessive speeds right now with available technology.