Driver assist systems that might kill you

Wallace, of Wallace and Gromit fame, is my Garmin’s voice. Very soothing.

Does it nag you about the wrong trousers or direct you to Wensleydale?


I once hired a car at LA Airport. I went to collect it, sat in the driver’s seat but no matter how hard I tugged and pulled at the safety belt I could not pull it out to fasten it. I decided to drive to a quiet spot and consult the manual. I turned on the ignition and all of a sudden there was a “ Brrrrrrr” sound and the belt wrapped itself carefully around me and fastened itself. I drove off with a grin at American ingenuity.

Eventually I stopped at a petrol station to refuel. When I tried to get out, the belt remained firmly in place. I turned the ignition key on and off but still nothing happened. I searched for a catch to release it but I still could not get the safety belt to move. I reached across for the manual and started searching for the correct method. By this time, there was an impatient tooting from a line of cars that had formed behind me. Panicking a little I carefully slid under the belt (limbo style) ending up in a heap in the foot well. I reached up and opened the door upon which action the seat belt slowly returned to its original position. I crawled out to refuel, embarrassed by the amazed stares of other clients.


Limbo driving.


In 2022 there were 3550 deaths on the road in France. Depending on which studies you refer to something like 20% to 30% were the direct result of inappropriate speed. That’s roughly 1000 deaths per annum attributable to speed. That is a huge amount of suffering, cost and general inconvenience to anyone involved and certainly something worth addressing.

I find it difficult to understand how anyone could object to speed limiters (providing the systems are reliable). I understand the concern that sometimes you do find yourself in a position for a boost of speed to get out of trouble but I would argue that it would be your poor driving skills that put you in such a position in the first place.

Nevertheless, these situations will sometimes occur. My solution is that the speed limiter should be designed so that you have one time access to unlimited speed for say 5 minutes after which time that option is stopped until the car is brought to a complete stop to reset that option. This would should prevent abuse of overriding the speed limiter.

There’s the rub. Plus, I don’t know what the replacement rate for cars is, since a car probably lasts twenty years is it 5% per annum? If so, the penetration of these driver assist systems will take a long time to reach boy racers and also not stop the idiots that zoom around the B roads near us in the middle of the road and cutting corners. I think maybe power limiters, as bikes have, (which I guess could be retrofitted) for drivers under 25 and/or with less that five years driving experience I suspect passing a bit of legislation for driver assist is seen by politicians as a lot easier than addressing the poor standard of driving.

I wonder what the percentage will be due to things taken out of the control of the, otherwise safe, drivers in the years to come. My feeling is that in the long term little will have been gained in terms of lost lives.

But as this is something I have been banging on about for years for the limiters already obligatory I can’t say a word against this:

I had no idea that bikes had power limiters these days but then the last bike I owned was made in 1953 in Stevenage.

I may be totally unwoke but faced with a Clio driven by a teenage girl my heart stops, wondering what surprise awaits.

That seems to be a difficult problem to overcome. The picture of brand new expensive cars with limiters being regularly overtaken by old bangers without limiters sounds like a recipe for weapons grade road rage.

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I received a letter in the box just now from the Minister of the Interior. I was worried, especially as it began

Vous aviez commis une infraction au code de la route…

and my heart sank, how could this be? After well more than 3 years since my last speeding fine I had taken to heart the lessons learned of more attention to signs etc. and am certain I have not transgressed since.
But I read on and saw:

j’ai la grande satisfaction…vous disposer a nouveau de 12 points…

At last, I was beginning to wonder if the term had been extended to 10 years, but proof that ban threats do work and are much better in the long run than reducing drivers to plastic men in some kid’s Scalextric set.

:rofl: :joy:

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Oh the joys of a basic car without all the bells and whistles. The future of motoring is looking more and more ridiculous.

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Indeed, I wonder if some unlucky people might soon be experiencing what the Boeing pilots in Indonesia and Ethiopia did some years ago. Total loss of control leading to complete distruction.

Some countries limit the power of a bike young, learner or new riders can use. A simple restrictor was placed between the carburettor and the inlet manifold which, in effect, throttled the bike. Then a certificate was issued saying that the bike conformed. I’m sure these days a quick tweak of the fuel injection software could achieve the same :slightly_smiling_face:

Or, more likely, someone elses stupidity.

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Last Sunday we were reversing out of a friend’s drive when the car decided it hadn’t enough room to manoeuvre and wouldn’t budge. There was sufficient space but we had to “fool it” by pointing the wheel where we didn’t want to go until we were rolling :roll_eyes:

For goodness sake :rage:

Mine beeps incessantly - which is a real pain when reversing into a tight, enclosed space.

But the car refusing to move because it thinks there isn’t room is just silly.


Older as in 5 or 10 years if fitted with CEMs and gps . A lot of cars have the software installed, just not activated. Only a box ticking exercise. Or a download is necessary.

And then were removed to give full power. Honda used a differnt camshaft and different jetting in the carb. Yammy used the restricted manifold and lke you say others used a metal plate. Suzuki used blackboxes onthe ignition circuit. Can also be done on cars as well.

It has been noticed.

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The only expansion of CEMS I can find which is vaguely automotive is “Continuous Emission Monitoring System” and I can’t quite see how that would help automatic limitation of the vehicle’s speed.

The blocker to retrofitting automatic speed limit enforcement on older cars is not so much going to be GPS, which is present in many cars even over 10 years old (as it is needed for sat-nav) but the lack of a 3/4/5G modem in the vehicle for an Internet connection - either to phone home and dynamically ask the current speed limit or update the car’s on-board map. It would be too infuriating/dangerous to have the car working on out of date speed limit information.

Either that or you need a “back up” method of determining the current limit, such as optical recognition of speed limit signs. In fact I would have thought that GPS+Optical would really need to be a requirement for this sort of system.

The car’s electronics has to be aware of the speed as well - OK you could do that bit with the GPS and just issue “cut power” to the engine but I suspect the lags in the control loops involved would make the experience pretty sub-optimal if not designed in (actually I think the experience will be sub optimal even where designed in, but I digress).

Finally - I know it was suggested that the system would not apply the brakes but thinking about it, if you are serious about doing this, you have to. Otherwise how do you stop the car exceeding the speed limit on a long downhill stretch, or when the limit changes rapidly such as from 110kph to 70kph on a slip road - or 60mph to 30mph as you go through a country village?

[edit: actually, thinking about it, if you just try to “cut power” in an EV regeneration will kick in which is going to have the same effect as brakes anyway]

Fortunately cruise control systems which have control over both accelerator and brakes are becoming increasingly common.

Neither 3G, nor speed limit reading cameras, nor automatic braking systems will be easy to retrofit to anything built more than a few years ago (basically, as Roccam says, pretty much nothing that does not have it all in there anyway, just disabled).

Maybe five years, if purchasers ticked the right boxes :thinking: but retro fitting kit without the rigorous testing of each and every configuration would straying into Boeing safety standards territory. :roll_eyes:

I wonder if the car manufacturers and their OEMs are using appropriate testing protocols for life-critcal software development? Is at least the same rigor applied to driver assist software as to A320 software? Or is it farmed out to the lowest bidder, as is often the case with commercial software?