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A new spy in the car?

Older motorists will remember the furore when the tachograph was introduced to heavy goods vehicles many years ago. It was called the 'spy in the cab' and was widely resisted by HGV drivers. Now, of course, they are simply a fact of life. In fact, in preventing drivers from driving for too long, they could actually be said to improve the lot of our truck drivers.

Older motorists will remember the furore when the tachograph was introduced to heavy goods vehicles many years ago. It was called the 'spy in the cab' and was widely resisted by HGV drivers. Now, of course, they are simply a fact of life. In fact, in preventing drivers from driving for too long, they could actually be said to improve the lot of our truck drivers. Now it seems that car drivers may face similar curbs on their driving freedoms. New legislation being considered by the EU will force drivers to have technology fitted that will enforce speed limits.

Under the proposed legislation, all new cars sold in the EU would have to have systems factory fitted to detect speed limits using cameras and GPS. Where the system detected a speed limit was being exceeded, the car's brakes would then be automatically applied. Existing motors would also have to be retro-fitted with the technology. The European Commission (EC) is putting forward the legislation under its Mobility and Transport Department's 'Intelligent Speed Authority' proposals in an attempt to cut road deaths by a third before 2020. The UK government is set to resist the proposals and Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has ordered his officials to oppose the move.

The proposals are set to be formalized this autumn but a government spokesman confirmed the minister's opposition, saying: "It is definitely something that he is keen to resist and he has told officials that it is something we don't want to do. To be forced to have automatic controls in your car amounts to Big Brother nannying by EU bureaucrats." The moves come as it is reported that more than 30,000 people are killed on EU roads every year. In addition to these fatalities, some 1.5 million are injured and 120,000 permanently disabled.

Mr McLoughlin, however, has briefed officials that the UK has one of the best records in Europe for road safety. Last year deaths were down from 1,901 to 1,754, which was the lowest figure since records began in 1926. The AA has said it would welcome and audible warning when speed limits are exceeded but questions the thinking behind technology to prevent it all together. A spokesman said: "It could take away people's ability to get themselves out of trouble with a quick burst of speed, such as in overtaking situations where the capacity to accelerate can avoid a head-on collision." A spokesman for the EC confirmed that it would be publishing a technical document in regard to the issue in the autumn.

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