How do speed limiters work?

Posted on 25th November 2022

You may have seen the term ‘speed limiters’ cropping up in the news quite a bit lately. They’re a hot topic because this new technology has the potential to limit how fast people can drive, but, as yet, these systems have a slightly less impactful presence. 

But what do you need to know about speed limiters and how do they work? Let’s find out. 

So what exactly is a speed limiter?

Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) has been introduced as a way of improving car safety. It’s also been made a key requirement of part of the EU’s new set of measures designed to help make roads and cars safer. 

The system uses GPS data - as well as traffic sign recognition technology - to detect what the speed limit is on a section of road that a car is travelling down. Then, once this is detected, the vehicle will automatically adjust its speed. It doesn’t operate the brakes, but instead uses the engine to slow down the car. 

Am I able to override it?

Don’t worry, this system doesn’t ‘lock’ you in. You’ll be able to override it by pressing firmly on the accelerator, which will allow you to gain speed. However, doing this consistently might trigger an alarm sound until the car returns to the speed limit. Some cars may also send small vibrations through the steering wheel to alert the driver. 

Can I switch it off fully?

Yes. You may have driven a car with other assistance features such as lane-keep assist, and these can be switched off in the same way. Cars either have a physical button that disables the system, or a menu within the infotainment screen which does the same. 

However, each time you switch the car off, the system will be reset. You’ll have to switch it off manually via the button or screen each time you restart the car. 

Do any current cars feature this technology?

Though this system has yet to have widespread use, it’s starting to appear on some models. You’ll find that a number of Ford’s cars have it included, while Volvo has also championed the technology as a way of making its vehicles even safer. 

Get car finance in 60 seconds