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    King County Sets Example for Vehicle Fleet Speed Controls

    King County Considers Installing Speed-Limiting Technology in Government Cars
    A feasibility study released by King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci recommends the installation of speed-limiting technology, specifically Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), in the County’s non-revenue fleet vehicles. This move could make King County the first local government in the Pacific Northwest to require such technology. ISA is designed to prevent high-speed car crashes by adding safeguards to restrict drivers from exceeding posted speed limits. The study proposes implementing both “mandatory” ISA, which reduces fuel injection or requires an emergency override to exceed speed limits, and “advisory” ISA, which provides audio and visual cues to alert drivers when they exceed speed limits. The study suggests a phased implementation plan, starting with a pilot program to assess effectiveness and scalability. The estimated costs are $1.5 million for advisory ISA installation and $2.9 million for mandatory ISA across the entire fleet.

    The study also highlights the potential impact on King County’s goal of transitioning its light-duty fleet to 50% electric vehicles (EVs) by 2025 and 100% EVs by 2030. While ISA has demonstrated positive effects on vehicle emissions, the integration of the technology may introduce complexities that could affect the achievement of EV goals.

    The feasibility study only focused on county vehicles, excluding King County Metro buses and vanpools that carry passengers. However, a successful pilot program could pave the way for the inclusion of speed safeguards in Metro buses. Transport for London, the transit agency for the Greater London Metro area, has successfully implemented ISA technology since 2015.

    ISA has shown not only potential safety benefits but also positive impacts on vehicle emissions. A UK study using ambulance vehicles equipped with mandatory ISA reported an over 10% increase in average miles per gallon, resulting in average savings of $1,867 per vehicle. The European Union has also embraced ISA, requiring all new vehicle models to include the technology.

    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently recommended the installation of speed assistance technology in all new cars, urging car manufacturers to include advisory ISA as a minimum requirement. The NTSB also called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to regulate vehicle design and consider mandatory ISA for repeat speeding offenders. This recommendation followed an investigation into a fatal collision in Las Vegas caused by excessive speeding.

    While the NTSB’s recommendation may face challenges, it reflects a growing momentum to improve road safety through speed assistance technology. Earlier this year, America Walks, a national pedestrian safety advocacy organization, challenged local governments to implement ISA and sought 50 partners to lead the way by 2025.

    The King County Council plans to discuss the feasibility study’s findings and decide whether to proceed with a pilot program in the coming months. By taking the lead in implementing ISA, King County could serve as a model for other municipalities with their own vehicle fleets.

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