Speed Limit “Assist”

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I just got some first-hand experience of what many of you soon will – speed limit “assist” – in plainer language, automated speed limit enforcer – which is a new feature (as these things are styled) of the new BMW I’m test driving this week.

This is the tech just mandated by the EU – to be installed in all new cars sold there by the 2022 model year – which tech is all-but-certain to be coming here, too – for reasons I’ve already written about at length but which come down to manufacturing considerations as much as political ones.

A third of all new cars are made by European companies (e.g., VW/Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Fiat/Alfa, Volvo, Jaguar/Land Rover) which means they’ll have to install the tech in their new cars – at least, the cars they build and sell in Europe. Since those cars are also sold here, it isn’t likely they’re going to make “Version A” for the home (European) market and “Version B” for here, even if the tech isn’t mandated here.


They will make one version – with the same tech. Just as DRLs – which were first mandated by Canada – became de facto standard here. It’s just easier for them to build cars one way rather than multiple ways.

Back to the . . . experience.

The system isn’t merely a speed limiter.

It is a ride-along enforcer of the speed limit.

The difference being that instead of preventing you from going faster than “X” MPH, the system prevents you driving faster than whatever the speed limit happens to be – whether it’s 70 MPH or 15 MPH.

It works like a choke chain on your dog – and on the same principle.

When engaged, the car doesn’t exceed whatever the sign says. It reads the signs – or rather, it is aware of what the signage says (via GPS mapping) and prevents you from driving faster by electronic (and software) means.

Here’s where drive-by-wire throttle comes in.

Your right foot is no longer in control of the engine. The computer is. Your foot pushes down on the accelerator pedal and the deflection is parsed into code which is interpreted by the computer – which then decides how much acceleration it will allow.

Tie this in with real-time computer awareness of what the speed limit happens to be at any given moment.


And I just felt the future.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway – which I drive almost every day – the speed limit is 45. The BMW obeyed, even if I didn’t want to. Downward pressure on the “accelerator” pedal resulted in no further acceleration.

It is like a perpetual speed trap. Or will be, when this tech becomes as common as air bags – which only took a few years from the initial fatwa’ing.

Imagine it: Everyone driving suddenly slowly – permanently. Instead of a temporary pretending to obey an idiotic law for only as long as it takes to get out of sight of the armed government worker, the AGW is built into your car.

You never get out of his sight.

Or rather, his control.

For now, it is possible to override the “assist.” In the BMW, it can be turned off – kind of like the Telescreen in Inner Party member O’Brien’s office, which astonishes Outer Party member Winston Smith in Orwell’s 1984.

Or, you can “push through” the limiter – by applying more and more pressure on the accelerator. The computer eventually – grudgingly – gives way and the car is allowed to go faster than the speed limit.

For now.

It doesn’t require paranoia to envision what’s in store. Why should it ever be possible to break the law, it will be argued? We have the technology to prevent anyone from “speeding” – which is (ipso facto) “dangerous.”

Volvo’s CEO Hakan Samuelsson has already argued exactly this line.

“We want to start a conversation about whether car makers have the right or maybe even the obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver’s behavior,” he said a few months ago. 

Others will say so, too.

Including others who are “the government” – i.e., the people who wield power over the rest of us, via offices and regulations. These are the same people who post speed limits in the first place – and punish us for “violating” them (how a sign – or an arbitrary number – can be “violated” is an interesting topic for another time).

And bet your bippe – as my high school history teacher used to say – other aspects of our driving will be “assisted” as well.

Such as excessive acceleration “assist” – which is probably what it’ll be called. And cornering “assist” – whoa back, son.

Your lateral Gs are too high.

The end game here isn’t really speed limit – or acceleration – enforcement. Those are merely some of the tools being used to make driving as miserable as possible. In order to get us to stop driving.

Verstehst du?

This agenda – in play for at least a generation –  ought to be as obvious a this point as an eight month tummy bulge is a clue about an impending birth.

Only the thing that’s about to be born isn’t reason for celebration.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. That will be great in those admittedly rather rare but not completely unusual situations when you need to accelerate out of an impending danger.

  2. Now here’s a thought for Uncle. Two cars hit head on at 80 mph – all dead. Two cars hit head on at 40 mph – some dead some hurt. Two cars hit head on at 20 mph – some whiplash, no dead. Two cars hit head on at, say, two mph – slight damage no injuries. (Y’all can see where this is going?) Two cars facing each other but going backwards at even 90 mph, they will never hit each other – a new fatwa for Uncle, by 2022 all cars must only go backwards.

    • Please, don’t give those brainless, omnipotent, idiots any more bright ideas than they currently have concocted, lol! The first thing they would do is pay themselves $5 million just to do a “feasibility study”!

    • Ha! For a second, I thought you was going to say that all new cars must travel along at the very safe speed of 0 mph. Sure, you’d probably spend the rest of your life trying to get across town but hey, at least you’ll be “safe”. lol

  3. What are the local PDs going to do when their revenue stream drys up? No speeding, no tickets. How will they pay for that armored SWAT vehicle they always wanted?

    • The badge-n-gun-totin’ tax collectors will merely make up other reasons to pull you over. Touching the white line with your right wheels or left wheels. “Weaving” within your lane, while not actually touching said line. Allegedly holding your smartphone. Having a brake light out. Having a taillight out. The list extends into infinity.

      Which of you good readers actually believes that, when the officer says that his visual estimate of your speed is (for example) 45 in a 35 zone and you produce proof from the manufacturer that your car’s software prevents this, the judge is going to accept your evidence over the officer’s word?

      • Hi John,

        I am convinced that if automated cars or speed limiters become common/mandated, the government will simply tax distance – or emissions per distance.

        • >emissions per distance
          Probably for humans as well.
          Slow down, citizen. Stop jogging!
          Your “carbon footprint” is too large.
          Maybe even random stops to see if your breathing permit is in order..

    • Hi Joe,

      I disagree; it will be very useful… to them. Remember this isn’t about saaaaaaaaaaaaafety. It is about control.

      Of us. Not them.

  4. My response: I will not, and have not, purchased any vehicle, with auto stop/start, direct injection, a turbocharger, cylinder deactivation, run-flats, timing belts, 9 & 10 speed trans, the upcoming speed limit “assist”, or anything GM or electric.

    Most new vehicles are on a downward trend of desirability and reliability – including such former desirable brands as Toyota.

    • I agree with you, libertyx… and I’m a guy who loves cars and has spent decades writing about them. It has become much harder to write about new cars – to find positive things to say about them. The last time I attended a “ride ad drive” media event for car journalists, I openly mocked the self-park tech being displayed – everyone there looked at me as if I had just crapped my pants.

      • Face it Eric, your just not a “team player”, or in their little world, a fellow circle-jerker!
        Non-conformists we were, are, and ever shall be, Amen!

  5. I can just imagine the limiter going down to 25 mph on a highway because the gps mistakenly thinks people are on a side road.

    • What will the speed assist do when you have an old, lower speed street IN PARALLEL with the newer, higher traffic, higher speed portion of the same roadway? The old street has a 25 mph limit, while the arterial portion has a 45 or 50 mph limit. How’s the speed assist going to differentiate between the two?

  6. Coming soon, the Two Minutes Hate, Automotive Edition. They’ll show pictures on the telescreen first from the 1960’s Interstate highway system, say out West, with folks in big engined cars doing 80 MPH +. Then, Jaguar E-Types, crescendoing to the Nurburgring and Ferraris and Bimmers, then at the end…ahhh, the Clover paradise, a city bus. b…b b…b b…B B…B BB!! Save us Big Brother! Save us Joan Claybrook!

  7. The panopticon state is here and it’s only going to get worse.

    I just got my first speedcam ticket on an interstate trip — during which I commented to my spouse how free of cops and radar traps the journey had been. Let me tell you, it freaks you out to get that thing in the mail with pictures of YOUR CAR and ordering you to pay a hundred bucks.

    At least it wasn’t a moving violation… because no officer personally witnessed it. Thank God for small favors.

    The thing about the speed-limiting technology that bothers me the most is not so much that it’ll be a government imposition — at least you can TRY to fight back against that. What bothers me is how many of the sheeple will invariably WELCOME the technology and GLADLY accept the bridle of government. I can hear it now — 99% of the morons out there will be HAPPY to buy a new car in which “I’ll never get a ticket! Yay!” You can bet yer ass this will be the Number One sales pitch, and suckers will swallow it hook, line and sinker.

    How did Germany ever manage to survive all these years with no speed limits on the autobahn, though?

    The joy and skill of driving will be dead. Your car will become the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner… merely a necessary tool for a feminized population.

    Hey… who’s got time for a speeding ticket when you’re busy “transitioning to another gender?”

  8. Once this tech becomes mandatory and has a hard limit (i.e. one that cannot be exceeded under ANY circumstances), what will be the POINT of buying a high performance car? I mean the very fact that this Beemer has a limited top speed of 155 takes away the allure for me. Even if I could afford to buy one, I wouldn’t; why buy a car like that when you can’t really USE it?

  9. Well,,, Maybe I’m a clover as I am not sure I’d want to be doing 155mp and not in a roll cage wearing a burn suit and strapped in like an astronaut. (lol) You guys go ahead,,, I’ll watch for the big fireball…

    That said,,, having Father directing our every living minute is coming unless something really radical takes place,,, which I don’t see in the near or far future. The indoctrination in the education system and media is extremely good. The boomers and some X’ers are the last generations to experience even a little freedom as the sociopaths were just beginning. The digital noose is tightening by the hour now. Anyone who exhibits even the smallest amount of free will, will be demonized and sent to some sort of retraining school sort of like the ‘driving school’ Father sends you when you get a ‘moving violation’ or Anger management when you beat the crap out of someone who deserves it.

    Of course,,, It’s for the children…. which are us.

    • All this new “Big brother” crap being built into new autos makes me reference back to the days old article “Why you can’t afford to not buy a classic car”. If too many people heed the advice and actually do just that, what will fedzilla do next? Mandate Gov’t controls be added to the auto? Issue extra punitive taxes on the old car? Or just plain out ban them? That article made me want to some time later on to just get my late fathers old 1977 T-bird running and on the road. A big yellow boat with the 351 and to annoy tree huggers, place a bumper sticker with some big “FU” message to wacko environmentalists! Also a “Don’t be a clover” on it too would be a nice touch.

  10. These things are going to need to work on GPS and typical GPS has enough error to create some dangerous results. However this is also the weak link. Unless the car is designed to refuse to function or limp when GPS is not available then the idea will be blind the GPS receiver. Wrapping the antenna in lead ought to do it. As well as unplugging it. Now internal antennas and integrated systems would be much more difficult to deal with. Since it needs to get a signal there will always be some way to prevent it from getting it.

  11. So, what happens when there is no GPS signal? Does it default to a very low level?

    It is trivially easy to make a GPS signal jammer – imagine the fun if you jammed everyone’s GPS signal on the road. Or better yet, for a bit more technology, use a GPS signal spoofer and tell all the cars that they are in a 15MPH school zone going down the freeway. I don’t think that they have thought this through all of the way yet. Mischief opportunities abound.

    • I used to use a cell phone jammer in my practice. Completely illegal but man did it work. Anytime a patient wouldnt get off phone when I walked in the room – which happened- I would go switch it on. I would always come back into the room with the patient staring at their phone like wtf happened. It was great.

  12. My rental car had a speed limiter I didnt know about. When I tried to pass another car at night on a Georgia two lane blacktop it kicked in with another car approaching. That was fun. When I returned the car I told the desk guy do you know how dangerous this car is?

      • Had the same thing happen to me a few years ago with a rental from Budget. At the time the speed limit was 75 on I-75 in Florida, and as I was just getting some speed up to pass a semi the whole dash started flashing red and beeping at me. Took almost a full minute to get past and back in lane while a few cars backed up behind me. Guess the thing was set for 80mph; yeah really saaaaafe! I decided never to rent from them again but I bet by now all the rental companies have them by now.

        • I wonder if those autos have that “safety” feature disabled when they go to auction after the rental companies are done with them?

  13. If these things start doing advisory ramp speeds it will be deadly. Let’s play merging at 15mph into 70-80mph traffic.

    • Not much change from what I see daily. Probably closer to 35mph merge, but still nuts.

      And of course the clovers think that the yield sign indicates that everyone else must yield when they merge.

      Going to have to look into the frequencies used by these systems and see if I can come up with a signal generator to confuse them.

      Just think of the fun. Clover moron so used to the ‘speed-limiter’ that he just drives around with the throttle floored. Comes upon a fake signal letting the car do 120mph. Should make for some good Youtube footage.

    • Yep, Brent, I’ve seen more tire smoke, trucks whipping back and forth and cars getting mashed from a single driver pulling onto the interstate doing 50 mph. Imagine if somebody did that in heavy traffic at the post “25”.

      A DOT ossifer once told me accidents were on the rise and nobody knew why…..as we stood there on the access road of I 20 watching an 80 mph traffic jam. Once you get up there your choices can be little to none.

      Swift Trucking called me one day and wanted to enlist my services. I told them I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of their 60 mph trucks, since dead is what you will be in a slow death trap. The “woman” corrected me and said “62”. Irrelevant said I, it’s still a good way to cause wrecks to which she replied “it’s the insurance company that says it’s safer”. It was only a few months later I came up on a “Swift” truck doing 70 mph. Hhmmm, guess they decided it was time to make a change. To this day they still can’t get decent drivers. They have a horrible reputation.

      Do a YT search for “Swift” trucking and you’ll see some of the most incompetent and dangerous drivers you hope you’ll never be involved with on the road. If you’re sitting at a truck stop and a Swift truck pulls up to park beside you, get out, stop the driver and say “I was just leaving, give me a few seconds and you can have the whole thing.” Beats hell out of being awakened by another rig slamming into yours.

  14. Quite literally a regulator.

    Funny thing how everyone else in society sees progress as “faster better cheaper,” but not Uncle.

  15. Is it just my perception, or does that prick in the suit and tie have a head too big for his body? I know all these control-freak assholes already “figuratively” have a big head, but this guy’s looks genuine! Ever notice how most of these “freaks” look like they belong in a circus sideshow? And they have the gall to consider US subhuman??

  16. Sounds like death on wheels. My old 1992 ford explorer in early 2000’s had its tranny totaled and rebuilt and after that it was a real POS on the speedo. Could never pass anyone and trying was risking life and limb because it never upshifted. So for those days I had to sit behind every clover I caught up with.


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