Nobody likes to be caught speeding, it’s an expensive pastime that can have disastrous consequences. Now the penalties have changed - there is no longer any leeway and magistrates can now apply bigger fines based on your income - the cost could get even higher for some offenders.
Speed limits are there for a reason, we all understand that and nobody seriously disagrees. There may be the occasional debate over the details but underneath it’s just plain common sense.
This isn’t a lecture on the perils of speeding. If you have a driving licence then by definition you are adult enough to make your own decisions. That being the case you also have to accept the consequences.
Most of us appreciate there is a difference between nudging 100mph on a deserted and bone dry motorway and hurtling past a school at 60mph as the children are crossing the road. We also know how infuriating it can be to receive a fixed penalty notice for an involuntary twitch in your right foot that caused you to hit 33mph at just the wrong time, or a changed limit you just weren't aware of.
The law doesn't care about that though. All those examples are illegal and the fact remains that we are all capable of breaking the limit, intentionally or otherwise.
Modern cars are so smooth and quiet that the perception of speed is much lower, and newer engines are more powerful and respond much more quickly to small throttle inputs. In some respects driving within the speed limits has got harder and requires more concentration, not all of it on what’s happening outside.
Luckily there is also a lot of useful technology in modern cars that can minimise your risk of falling foul of the law and keep your attention where it should be, on the road ahead.
Road sign recognition systems, speed limiters and cruise control can all help to keep you within the limits either at home or abroad, and they are all worth considering when it comes to your next car lease.
Ford is one manufacturer with an eye on the problem, although by no means the only one. The Intelligent Speed Limiter system currently found in the Kuga , Edge, S-Max is a good example of how technology can ensure you are aware of all the relevant speed limits and stay within them.
The Intelligent Speed Limiter allows you to set a maximum speed then uses a windscreen-mounted camera to monitor road signs. If the posted speed limit drops below the set speed, the system slows the vehicle as required. As the speed limit rises, the system allows the driver to accelerate back up to the set speed, providing it does not exceed the new speed limit.
The Intelligent Speed Limiter ensures smooth deceleration by restricting the fuel supplied to the engine, rather than applying the brakes. It can even detect when an increase in speed is caused by gravity, hills been a feature of many parts of the UK, and sound an alarm to warn the driver. It’s even clever enough to work alongside the satnav and fill in the gaps on the road where signs can be miles apart.
Ford’s system is admittedly more comprehensive than you will find on most cars although that will change over time. Even if your next lease car doesn’t go quite that far you will still be able to take advantage of some kind of speed limiting technology.
Adaptive cruise control is increasingly common and a great addition for motorway driving where the new speeding guidelines allow fines up to £2,500. Adaptive systems use the technology to ‘lock on’ to the car in front, maintaining a constant speed and distance, automatically adjusting itself to keep pace with the target. It’s particularly useful on smart motorways with variable speed limits, and it also offers a smoother driving experience which can reduce fuel consumption.
Road sign recognition systems are also improving as the technology becomes more widespread. Even if they don’t directly affect the speed of your vehicle just having a visual warning of the limit appear on the instrument display is often enough to lift a driver’s awareness.
In some cases they can be used in conjunction with a head up display which puts your current speed and the posted limit right in your eye line. Even better because you don’t need to look away from the road at all.
Failing that, even a basic speed limiter and a pair of eyes can be enough to keep your licence clean. Most cars now come with a simple speed limiter and something as basic as an audible warning when you hit the limit should be sufficient reminder. If it isn’t you probably aren’t awake enough to be driving anyway.
There are varying degrees of technological assistance built in to modern cars that you should at least be aware of when you look for your next lease. Granted it’s not always glamorous, often it just sits in the background quietly doing its thing, but constantly improving the technology can not only make our roads safer, it also makes driving less stressful - and potentially a lot cheaper.
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