Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Second Report



10546/01 ADD 1

COM(01) 318


Commission Report on the implementation of Council Directive 92/6/EEC of 10 February 1992 on the installation and use of speed limitation devices for certain categories of motor vehicles in the Community.

Draft Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 92/6/EEC on the installation and use of speed limitation devices for certain categories of motor vehicles in the Community.

Legal base:Article 71 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated:14 June 2001
Deposited in Parliament:18 July 2001
Department:Transport, Local Government and the Regions
Basis of consideration:SEM of 17 April 2002
Previous Committee Report:HC 152-vi (2001-02), paragraph 9 (14 November 2001)
To be discussed in Council:June 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared (decision reported on 14 November 2001)


  15.1  In November 2001, we cleared a Commission report on the installation and use of speed limitation devices and the Commission's proposal to extend in full to the lighter HGVs, buses and coaches and midi­coaches and minibuses the requirements and the speed limits already applied to the heaviest classes of HGVs. We noted that, according to the Commission, the effects of fitting speed limiters to heavy goods vehicles "are generally very positive for drivers, for companies, for society and for the environment" whereas the costs are "small and avoidable."

  15.2  We also noted that the UK Government was strongly opposed to the fitting of speed limiters to lighter heavy goods vehicles (i.e. those below 7.5 tonnes). We observed that there had been a lack of clear evidence in the UK on the effect of using speed limiters on heavy goods vehicles and called upon the Government to undertake and publish such research, especially given the high incidence of speeding by heavy goods vehicles and the lack of any consensus among interested parties.

Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum

  15.3  In his Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 17 April 2002, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Mr David Jamieson) informs us about the amendments agreed during the European Parliament's first reading that resulted in a slightly amended version of the Commission's proposal. He adds that the amendments addressed none of the UK's fundamental concerns. He tells us that the amendments would:

"—  limit the coverage only to vehicles for commercial use (Amendments 1,2, and 3);

  • provide that Member States may require top­speed limiters to be set at a lower speed for vehicles used exclusively to transport hazardous goods (Amendment 4);

  • apply the key elements of the proposal retroactively to 1 October 2001, but allow a one year's stay of execution of retroactivity (until 1 January 2005) for vehicles used internationally, and a two­year stay of execution on retroactivity (until 1 January 2006) for vehicles used exclusively for national transport operations (Amendment 5);

  • provide a five­year transition period for goods vehicles exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum permitted weight; and for passenger vehicles exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 5 tonnes maximum permitted weight (Amendment 6);

  • provide that each Member State may apply national technical specifications for the speed limitation devices fitted before 1 January 2004 in some cases (Amendment 7);

  • provide that the technical specifications be reviewed to permit vehicles to exceed the maximum speed when overtaking slow vehicles (Amendment 8);

  • oblige the Commission to publish a study 18 months after the Directive comes into force on the possibility of introducing intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) (Amendment 9); and

  • add an extra year (until 1 January 2004) for transposition of the Directive into national law (Amendment 10)."

  15.4  The Minister adds that the Commission can accept in full amendments 4, 6 and 7; that it could accept in principle amendments 5, 9 and 10; and that amendments 1, 2, 3 and 8 are not acceptable to the Commission.

  15.5  The Minister summarises the three aspects of the Commission's proposal about which the UK's has fundamental concerns. These are:

"Scope. We opposed so broad an extension of scope as the EC proposes. A more limited extension across the EU, requiring top­speed limiters on goods vehicles, buses and coaches over 7.5 tonnes in maximum permitted weight would have achieved some market harmonisation, as well as safety and environmental benefits consistent with UK experience.

"Retro­fitting. We argued that there should be no requirement retrospectively to fit top­speed limiters to vehicles newly brought into scope by the new measures and already registered when they come into force. Retrofitting has drawbacks pertaining to costs, to difficulties of tamper­proofing and effective enforcement (even where the speed­limiter forms part of the vehicle's engine­management system), and to possible negative environmental effects.

"Speed limits. We took the view that a higher limit ought to be set for the lighter than for the heavier vehicles, for example existing national speed limits for the vehicles concerned. The EC's proposal would implicitly subject all in­scope vehicles to the same speed limits already imposed on goods vehicles over 12 tonnes and on buses and coaches over 10 tonnes maximum permitted weight. This may have potential congestion, safety and environmental disbenefits."

  15.6  The Minister concludes that:

"It is now unlikely that there will be any opportunity to address these concerns. The Government believes that an opportunity has been lost to come to a sensible compromise on practices similar to the present UK requirements."


  15.7  As noted above, we have already cleared the document and draft proposal. We produce this short Report simply to keep the House informed.

  15.8  As regards our previous request for the Government to undertake and publish research on the use of such speed limitation devices, especially given the high incidence of speeding by heavy goods vehicles and the lack of any consensus among interested parties, we note the Minister's undertaking that this will be done once the final details of the measures are known. We look forward to receiving such research.

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