Mobility and transport
The content on this page may be outdated. We advise you instead to visit https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/observatory_en

Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA)

The opinions expressed in the studies are those of the consultant and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.

Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA)

What is ISA?

ISA is a system which informs, warns and discourages the driver to exceed the statutory local speed limit. The in-vehicle speed limit is set automatically as a function of the speed limits indicated on the road. GPS allied to digital speed limit maps allows ISA technology to continuously update the vehicle speed limit to the road speed limit. There are three types of ISA:

Informative or advisory ISA gives the driver a feedback through a visual or audio signal. A Speed Alert System is an informative version of ISA; it is able to inform the driver of current speed limits and speeding.

Supportive or warning ISA increases the upward pressure on the accelerator pedal. It is possible to override the supportive system by pressing the accelerator harder.

Intervening or mandatory ISA prevents any speeding, for example, by reducing fuel injection or by requiring a "kick-down" by the driver if he or she wishes to exceed the limit.

What road safety problem does ISA address?

Excess speed contributes to around 30% of fatal crashes [51]. Typically 40% to 60% of the drivers exceed the limit. Results from a wide range of studies indicate that reducing average speeds by just 1km/h can result in a 5% reduction in fatal crashes.

How effective?

The EU-funded and SRA co-ordinated project PROSPER looked into ways that advanced assisted driving technology and technology relating to speed limitation devices can improve safety, and also at the barriers for the implementation of ISA. The PROSPER project calculated crash reductions for six countries. Reductions in fatalities between 19-28%, depending on the country, were predicted in a market-driven scenario. Even higher reductions were predicted for a regulated scenario - between 26-50%. Benefits are generally larger on urban roads and are also larger if more intervening forms of ISA are applied [11]. Trials with ISA have been carried out in ten European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden [19]. An earlier study in the Netherlands showed that ISA could reduce the number of hospital admissions by 15% and the number of deaths by 21% [35]. Research has shown that ISA and physical measures to reduce road speed are complementary rather than competing methods [39].

Benefits to cost?

Benefit to cost ratios ranging from 2.0 to 3.5 and 3.5 to 4.8 were calculated in the PROSPER project for the two scenarios: market driven and regulation driven. The costs were based on the premise that by 2010, all new vehicles will come with a satellite navigation system [11].

Other benefits?

Other ISA benefits have been identified as fuel savings, CO2 savings and the potential to reduce journey time (managed motorways; reduction in incidents).

Who uses ISA now?

While trials and further experimental studies are being carried out in Norway, the Netherlands and the UK, large-scale demonstration has only been implemented in Sweden. Sweden's National ITS Strategy for 2006-2009 targeted better speed compliance as one of four ITS road safety initiatives national and internationally with its Nordic partners. Sweden sees the establishment of speed limit data base, the targeting of the road transport industry and the introduction of in-house policies as essential first steps.

Swedish ITS Strategy ISA Targets: Proposals made in 2006 and progress to date
In 2006 the SRA will provide quality assured speed data on the state and municipal road network across Sweden.
This data has been provided according to plan.
The SRA and seven other parties, such as city municipalities, transport purchasers and transport providers, will in 2006 introduce support systems for speed compliance or similar systems in their own and leased vehicles as new vehicles are acquired.
Today 60-80 organisations have implemented speed alert systems; in total 2000-3000 units.
In 2006 there will be an agreement at a Nordic ministerial level to support a greater implementation of ISA. This should be based on the Swedish focus for implementation. Cross-border ISA on a selected number of Nordic corridors will be shown by 2009 at the latest.
Cross-border testing has been carried out and further tests are planned within the European TeleFOT-project. The Norwegian road administration plans to implement SpeedAlert in their own vehicles.
At least three suppliers of vehicle equipment should offer support systems for speed adaptation to commercial vehicles by 2007.
There are 5-8 suppliers to date.
In 2007, leading market players (content providers) will be handling speeds from the National Road Database (NVDB).
Speed data from NVDB is being provided to leading market players.

Future use?

Different trials using informative and supportive systems across Europe have shown that approximately 60-75% of users would accept ISA in their own cars. A MORI poll in the UK carried out for the FIA Foundation in 2002 indicated 70% support for warning ISA in urban areas with 58% in support of non-overidable limiters on residential streets if that meant road humps would be removed. One has shown that 73% of drivers reported being more positive towards ISA after using it [3]. Lahrmann, Madsen and Boroch [32] reported that 15 out of 20 drivers became more favourable to using ISA after experiencing the system

Next steps for implementation?

While positive benefits to cost have been identified for ISA, number of criticisms of ISA have hindered widespread implementation. A review - Intelligent speed assistance - myths and reality - discussed 'myths' regarding ISA and argues that ISA (and Speed Alert) technologies can work reliably [19].

An EU-funded SpeedAlert project co-ordinated by ERTICO was set up in 2004 to harmonise the in-vehicle speed alert concept definition and investigate the first priority issues to be addressed at EU level, such as the collection, maintenance and certification of speed data.

While there is considerable public support for ISA, an implementation strategy is needed to speed up the process of implementation of ISA in vehicles [39]. This should include the development of speed limit maps by European, national and regional authorities (to date, Sweden and Finland have established speed limit databases although these are under development in the UK and the Netherlands). Also, awareness of ISA / Speed Alert has to be created. Authorities and organisations (e.g. fleet owners) can act as forerunners by implementing ISA in their vehicle fleets. Last but not least, further harmonisation activities are needed on the international level.