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Speed-limiting device to be fitted to cars in pilot scheme

16 June 2009

Automatic speed-limiting devices will be fitted to cars under a pilot scheme unveiled yesterday as part of the Scottish Government's long-awaited road safety framework.

Automatic speed-limiting devices will be fitted to cars under a pilot scheme unveiled yesterday as part of the Scottish Government's long-awaited road safety framework.

The technology, which can be overridden by the motorists, is one of a number of measures intended to promote responsible driving and help achieve a new target of cutting road deaths by 40% between 2010 and 2020.

The framework will also explore introducing restrictions on young drivers, who account for a disproportionate number of crashes, though both issues would require the co-operation of Westminster.

Launching the strategy at Strathburn Primary School in Inverurie, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said the targets, the first that have been set separately for road deaths in the UK, were challenging but would help achieve a vision of "zero road deaths".

"We have concentrated on what we can do within our devolved competencies in Scotland in this framework and we will get down to business and deliver, working with road safety partners across Scotland," the minister said.

"From education, to piloting new technology, to taking action on school buses, and setting the toughest road casualty reduction targets in the UK, this is an ambitious framework which will save lives. However, we have also set out where we want to see legislative change at a Westminster level as I believe this would make a massive impact on reducing casualty rates even further."

No decision has been taken on the location of the "intelligent speed adaptation" pilot, who will be involved or when it will be introduced. But officials said it is likely to involve a GPS system and an onboard computer that will automatically slow a speeding vehicle to the local speed limit.

Research published by the UK Government last year showed this reduced speeding in almost every category of user. The strategy also includes proposals to encourage local councils to introduce 20mph zones in all residential areas, and improving school bus safety.

Restrictions for newly qualified drivers, including limits on the number of passengers, engine size, and speed, will be discussed in a "nationwide debate", Mr Stevenson said.

Responsibility for cutting road deaths will fall to councils but will be monitored by the Scottish Government and reviewed every year.

The strategy was welcomed by road safety groups yesterday, including Brake, the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Neil Greig, director of IAM's policy and research, said: "IAM research highlights Scotland's unique set of road safety issues: a high fatality rate when crashes occur; a disappointing child safety record; problems with new drivers and most importantly very high levels of serious accidents on rural roads. The good news is the new framework recognises all these priorities."

However, the strategy was criticised as "short on detail" by opposition parties. Alison McInnes, the LibDem's spokeswoman for transport, said: "My overriding concern is that, having waited all this time for a road safety strategy, what we have instead is a framework with a resounding lack of detail on how it's going to be delivered."

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