After the National Transportation Safety Board urged the federal government to incentivize automakers to equip new cars with speed limiters, the nation’s largest city decided not to wait and took its own action.
After New York City suffered its deadliest year in recent history for traffic fatalities with 273 lost lives in 2021, the Big Apple is now the first to use Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) technology to keep cars driving at — and not above — speed limits in its city-owned fleet vehicles.
The initiative launched in August with an announcement by Mayor Eric Adams. Some 50 New York City fleet light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles across nine agencies were outfitted with the technology. The vehicles are engineered to notify drivers with an alarm that the car has reached the speed limit or cut off the accelerator.
Large trucks have been equipped with speed limiters since the 1990s, though the technology had initially only prevented a truck from overcoming a certain set speed.
This new iteration uses telematics to understand the speed limit on any given roadway in relation to the car’s geolocation. The technology combines speed governors with telematics to restrict a vehicle's maximum speed and dynamically adjusts to changing speed limits.
Eric Richardson, deputy chief fleet management officer at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) — the NYC Fleet — shared at the recent Fleet Forward Conference that total miles driven by the 50 vehicles since the pilot went live this summer already exceeds 70,000 miles. The vehicles traveled within the speed limit parameters set by DCAS 99% of the time. The vehicles to date went from 26.5 hard braking events per 1,000 miles to 20.6 per 1,000 miles — a reduction of 22%.
DCAS plans to test units set to 11 mph above the speed limit and vehicles set to the speed limit. The pilot assessment continues through at least the end of 2022 with another data analysis and case study planned for early 2023.
DCAS has submitted a grant proposal for $10 million in funding under the federal Safe Streets For All program. The funding would be used to expand the ISA program to 7,500 light- and medium-duty non-emergency vehicles. Richardson said the city expects a decision by February 2023.
Deputy Mayor of New York City for Operations Meera Joshi referred to the accelerator cut-off as a “a dead pedal” in a CNN report. However, drivers can choose to override the cut-off and manually speed up the vehicle for 15 seconds to merge lanes or keep up with the flow of traffic, for example, with the simple press of a button under the steering wheel. In the ISA pilot, override button had been used 498 times, or 0.13 times for every 1,000 miles driven.