Cruise control technology linked to a digital speed map of all of London’s roads will be used to stop drivers going too fast in the project by Transport for London.
The Intelligent Speed Adaptation, or ISA, will be used on buses for the first time on UK streets and it is hoped that due to their size the buses will also be able to prevent other vehicles from breaking the speed limit.
A small number of buses will take in the trial as TfL looks to reduce the number of fatalities on London’s roads, around half of which involve vehicles breaking the speed limit.
Some 2,192 people were seriously injured on London roads last year, with 132 casualties around half which were pedestrians.
Earlier this month the City of London introduced a blanket 20mph limit with a pledge by its police to make it the first London borough where it is rigorously enforced.
To further enhance bus safety, TfL is already running a trial with vehicles fitted with collision detection software - sensors that alert the driver when a cyclist or pedestrian gets dangerously close.
Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “The safety of the capital’s roads, particularly for vulnerable users, is a top priority. Clearly we want our buses to be on the cutting edge in delivering safe roads. Trialling and then rolling out these kinds of innovative technologies on our buses is one way in which we can do this.“ Lilli Matson, head of delivery planning, TfL, said: “Our aim is to raise the profile of how technology can play a part in making the roads safer. Digital speed maps are able to be read by ISA which can monitor and regulate speeds. We want to see what effect it has on London’s roads overall and to see how it can control speeds. Because of the size of buses this is likely to affect the speed of other vehicles following behind. It can be operated either voluntary or if you take it to the extreme then the speed of the vehicle can be set like cruise control and overridden only in case of emergency. There’s no decision on this yet but we will probably go for the voluntary system to allow the driver to retain full control of the vehicle. In the case of fatal collisions involving all types vehicles on London’s roads, half are due to speeding.”
ISA trials were included in the mayor’s recently published Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.
Other initiatives include pedestrian countdown timers at 400 sites, or 10 per cent of all such crossings. A digital speed map has been created to help spur the development of the next generation of in-vehicle technologies and mobile phone apps for the road. Making such information freely available, and keeping it accurate, means existing services such as sat-navs and GPS, can provide drivers with the best information on the speed limit of the roads they are travelling on, giving them greater certainty, helping them to keep safe and avoid speeding penalties.