Speed control devices
Speed and crashes
Crash tests
Stopping distances
Compliance with speed limits
Top speed limiting


2019: ETSC: European Parliament backs new vehicle safety standards - including overridable Intelligent Speed Assistance.
2017 Global NCAP: Report of the Seminar on Advancing Speed Assistance Systems + Michael Paine's slide show.
2017 ETSC: Global NCAP looks to boost take-up of speed assistance systems worldwide
20012:  Old Ideas plus New Technology Equals Crash Savings - Global Road Safety Partnership conference, Bangkok
: Pay-How-You-Drive car insurance will reward drivers  who obey speed limits
2012:: SpeedAlert Live now available for free for iPhone and Android.(Update 2015: vanished from App Store)
2012:: ISA in the USA: 5 Dec 12 IIHS Status Report: Intelligent speed adaptation devices can reduce speeding.
2009: First International Conference on Intelligent Speed Adaptation: Sydney 10 Nov 2009. 
2009: Low Range Speeding and the Potential Benefits of Intelligent Speed Assistance  (600K PDF preprint of conference paper) - findings confirmed in
Casualty crash reductions from reducing various levels of speeding (2011 CASR report)
2009: Speed limiting trials in Australia - 21st ESV
2007: What's hot in road safety? Vehicles that obey the speed limits - ACRS Seminar,
In-vehicle Intelligent Speed Advisory Systems - 20th ESV
2004: Presentation on speed control at the WHO Road Safety Day in Sydney.
2003: Presentation to Staysafe on Speed Control
1998: Why consider speed control devices for vehicles
: Speed Control Devices for Cars - research report for NSW government

iphone school

2007 Review of the world's first passive ISA navigator device with a national speed limit database - the Navig8r M35 with SpeedAlert™ 99% of the time I do NOT need a navigator map. 100% of the time I DO need speed limit information.This little unit displays the speed limit and beeps if you creep over the speed limit by more than a selected amount (e.g. 2km/h). It has a SpeedAlert mode where only speed limit information is displayed and no map - reducing distraction. The built-in speed limit database covers most populated areas of Australia. I have successfully used SpeedAlert in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Wollongong, Newcastle and Brisbane.

2008 Beware of some brands of sat-nav that have a speed limit sign displayed on the packaging. The speed limit database is very limited for some devices (eg around schools and speed cameras) or, worst still, has to be set manually by the driver. To my knowledge only the SpeedAlert system has an extensive nationwide database and time-based school zones.
Update June 2009: The latest Navig8r - the G35 has the option for an analogue speedo display - a dynamic speedo that clearly shows the current speed limit. I also like the scale of the speedo, with a maximum speed of 120km/h. Video of demonstration (10Mb WMV)

2010: Speed alerts are available on the iPhone as part of the Metroview Navigator app . The SpeedAlert app (illustrated at right) is no longer availble. The Sygic app has speed advisory features. 2016: Transport for NSW - Speed Adviser - free smartphone app
Metroview on iPhone

2011 - SpeedAlert still available in a low-cost sat-nav

I first became aware of the remarkable road safety benefits of reducing traffic speeds while researching a project for the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority in 1996: Speed Control Devices for Cars. Subsequent presentations have included:
Extra casualties due to speeding
Two key points that motorists should be aware of are:

1. Half of all fatal accidents occur at an impact speed of less than 55km/h. "Low speed" collisions can be deadly. This is due to Newton's physics and the frailty of the human body.

2. Every 5km/h above the speed limit doubles the risk of being involved in a casualty accident. In a 60 zone, travelling at 65km/h doubles the risk and travelling at 70km/h quadruples the risk.

For several years I have been calling for measures that assist motorists comply with speed limits (and, incidentally, avoid speeding tickets). GPS navigation technology is bringing that closer to reality.
'Speed Limits: How should they be determined? ' - an address by Prof. Patricia Waller, University of Michigan Transport Research Institute, to the ACRS Sydney Chapter, 6 September 2001
Big Brother? There is no surveillance used in the ISA system, which is under trial in several countries. GPS is simply used by the system WITHIN THE VEHICLE to determine its geographic location. A digital map then provides the driver with the posted speed limit. No one but the driver knows the location and speed of the vehicle (although, with some systems, trips can be recorded for later analysis).

9 Feb 09 Canberra Times (reprint): A new attitude to speeding needed.
Response to the article and comments...

The problem is that most motorists do not appreciate the extra risks involved in travelling just a few km/h over the speed limit. Most think that the risk of a casualty crash is doubled if you a travelling at least 25km/h over the speed limit. The truth, which is based on the unbreakable laws of physics and the frailty of the human body, is that in urban areas the risk is doubled for each 5km/h over the limit. So travelling at 70km/h in a 60 zone quadruples the risk of a crash in which someone is hospitalised. As a result, about 15% of road fatalities could be prevented if the (large) group of motorists who routinely travel at up to 10km/h over the limit were encouraged to obey the speed limits.

It is difficult, if not impossible, for enforcement methods like fixed speed cameras to have an effect on this "minor" speeding. An added problem is that even motorists who want to obey the speed limits (to keep their life, licence or livelihood) have difficulty doing this in modern cars on city roads. This is where Intelligent Speed Assist comes into its own. The system has a very simple function, backed up by very clever technology. It knows the location and speed of the vehicle and, from an on-board database of speed limits, it can alert the driver to speeding. I have been using an ISA device in Sydney since mid 2006 and have prepared papers for international road safety conferences. Participants at these conference often express disbelief that Australia is leading the world with this technology. Sometimes they claim there could be negative outcomes, such as always driving at the speed limit rather than to the conditions, but numerous ISA trials around the word have shown these claims are unsubstantiated.

Yesterday the Sunday papers in Sydney had a Harvey Norman brochure advertising the Navig8r M35 unit for $148. This unit, as described by Crispin, can be run exclusively in speed alert mode displaying just the speed limit and current vehicle speed. This avoids the distraction of the navigation map, which is rarely needed for regular driving (the map is instantly available by touching a button the screen but I would like to see any sat-nav device require the vehicle to be stationary before it accepts any touch screen input).

In my view, every novice driver should be issued with such an intelligent speed assist device for the first year of driving. Maybe the resulting responsible driving would rub off on the rest of us.

"The first reaction to something that challenges your beliefs is denial" - Rev Thomas Goodhue.

Links to ISA projects around the world




[Legacy] Products described on the Internet (for information - not endorsement)

Updates and news (most recent at bottom)

Related Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference Proceedings (sorry but the website is not currently available):
reaction time distribution
Andrew Humpherson really needs to do his homework before calling for the scrapping of speed cameras (MD 18 Oct). For at start he should read the transcripts of my evidence to the Parliamentary Staysafe Committee earlier that week.
The claim, by the British sociology researcher, that speed cameras had not reduced the road toll is questionable. Measuring the effectiveness of road safety measures from the overall road toll is notoriously difficult due to  the many influencing factors. The best way is to conduct in-depth crash investigations. Across several continents over many years those in-depth studies show that about half of all road fatalities occur an impact speed of just 55km/h or less. The faster a motorist is travelling the less chance they have of avoiding a crash and the higher the impact speed if they do crash. This double whammy effect means that travelling at just 5km/h over the speed limit doubles the risk of being involved in a serious or fatal crash (this was demonstated by road safety researchers at the University of Adelaide in a landmark study several years ago).
Other studies in the USA have shown that, in effect, every minute saved by travelling in excess of the speed limit results in a one minute loss in life expectancy across the community due to the increased risk of a fatal crash. The community clearly benefits from anti-speeding measures such as speed cameras.
My main message to the Staysafe Committee was that motorists have a false sense of safety at "normal" suburban speeds and there is the temptation to travel faster than the speed limit. Speeds that seem safe can suddenly turn out to be dangerous - ask just about anyone who has been involved in a serious crash. That is why I have suggested that motorists could do with assistance in keeping to the speed limit through smart technology in the car. Several trials of "Intelligent Speed Adaptation" in Europe and Australia are exceeding expectations in effectiveness, driver acceptance and environmental improvement. The systems that impress me most give the driver a simple, subtle (silent) indication that the speed limit is being exceeded such as vibrating the accelerator pedal. In a few years I expect that such systems will be a selling feature of GPS navigation units in cars.
Michael Paine
Automotive Safety Consultant
The Manly Daily often prints negative opinions about speed cameras but I rarely see any attempt to verify the questionable claims that they do not reduce the road toll. This is nonsense, as several lines of research have shown.

Early in April I gave a presentation on speed control at the World Health Organisation  Road Safety Day in Sydney (see link below for a copy of my presentation). Two key points that motorists should be aware of are:
1. Half of all fatal accidents occur at an impact speed of less than 55km/h. "Low speed" collisions can be deadly. This is due to Newton's physics and the frailty of the human body.
2. Every 5km/h above the speed limit doubles the risk of being involved in a casualty accident. In a 60 zone, travelling at 65km/h doubles the risk and travelling at 70km/h quadruples the risk.

For several years I have been calling for measures that assist motorists comply with speed limits (and, incidentaly, avoid speeding tickets). GPS navigation technology is bringing that closer to reality.

Michael Paine

Despite his sarcasm Mr Ditmarsch has hit the nail on the head with his comments on my letter about speed camera. Careful research in South Australia has shown that travelling at 80km/h in a 60 zone increases the chances of being involved in a casualty crash by 32 times, compared with risk when travelling at 60km/h. This is illustrated in the attached graph, which is based on that research. Independent research in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA has come to the same conclusion.

Speed limits are normally set according to the road and traffic conditions, including the risk to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians (see www.austroads.com.au). Under these circumstances, the risk of being involved in a casualty crash while travelling at 110km/h on a freeway is roughly the same as the risk when travelling at 60km/h on a suburban road with a 60 speed limit. It is when the speed of the vehicle exceeds the posted speed limit that the risk climbs dramatically.

40km/h speed zones usually apply where there is an increased risk of hitting a pedestrian. At an impact speed of 60km/h there is almost a 100% chance that a pedestrian impact will be fatal. Also in half of all pedestrian fatalities the motorist has no chance to brake before the impact. So I agree with Mr Ditmarsch's calculation that travelling at 60km/h in a 40 zone would  increase the risk of a casualty crash by 32 times. In this case the most likely casualty is a pedestrian - not himself. The problem is that, in modern cars, 60km/h in these circumstances feels safe - but that is an illusion.

Michael Paine

SMH 8 MARCH 2010
Safe speeding reduces road toll ... in your dreams

The Mercedes-Benz safety expert Ulrich Mellinghoff is living in a dream world where everyone drives on speed-limitless German autobahns in a luxury car equipped with the latest safety features ("Fast drivers and a falling road toll: Germans show how", March 5).

Most Australians drive cars with poor or mediocre crash safety, and most fatalities occur on urban roads or two-lane country roads. More than half involve crash impact speeds less than 60km/h (even in a Mercedes).

Numerous peer-reviewed studies have shown that the fatal crash rate is very sensitive to the speed of vehicles. Exceeding the speed limit by just a few kilometres an hour greatly increases the risk of a fatal crash. The recent national change to 50km/h speed limits on residential streets has resulted in a halving of fatalities on these streets in Victoria.

Doing 70km/h in a 60km/h zone may feel safe in the modern car, but that is an illusion. If an emergency arises, that extra speed more than doubles the risk of a serious or fatal crash.

Recent developments with GPS technology mean it is now much easier to drive within the speed limit at all times ˆ not just near speed cameras. An Australia-wide speed limit advisory function is available on some satellite navigation units that cost less than a speeding fine. As a vehicle safety consultant I have been evaluating these devices since 1996 but they have been mostly ignored by the motoring media, who seem to be immersed in the same virtual world as Mr Mellinghoff.

Michael Paine Beacon Hill