Buses along one route in Gothenburg, Sweden, are unable to travel any faster than 30 km/h (18.6 mph). This is part of a pilot project in four Swedish cities to test geo-fencing as speed reduction technology. Geo-fences are digital restrictions programmed into GPS or cellular data networks. When a vehicle’s GPS system has been geo-fenced at 30 km/h, it will not be able to exceed this speed. So it goes for select buses in Sweden. If the project proves successful, geo-fenced speed limits will likely be adopted by other industries – perhaps even municipal governments. Geo-fencing has the ability to limit all vehicles in a certain area to a certain speed. Yes, this includes private ones.
Geo-Fencing’s Origins As Anti-Terrorism Technology
In 2017, the Swedish government began experimenting with geo-fencing after a terrorist attack in Stockholm left five people dead and 14 people seriously injured. A Muslim extremist hijacked a truck and drove it into pedestrians. Had a geo-fence been programmed into that truck, there may have been fewer causalities or none at all. This was the government’s mindset when they invested in this technology, whose value became apparent in other sectors, including, of course, road safety.
The Implications For Road Safety
As the Gothenburg bus route demonstrates, geo-fencing can cap the speeds of vehicles in a certain network. This can be done wirelessly as well. In the future, geo-fences might be established in major cities to cap the speeds of all vehicles within the boundaries. It may not stop there; geo-fencing may go country-wide or even worldwide. This would effectively relegate speeding to the history books. The data is clear: lower speeds mean fewer accidents and casualties. Experts agree that most motorists and cyclists can survive a crash at 30 km/h. Also, a 10 percent reduction in speed means 40 percent fewer crashes that result in fatalities. Geo-fencing will not only save lives, but also money, since fewer accidents equal fewer monetary settlements. However, there will still be a place for car accident lawyers, who will perhaps be well positioned to find clients larger settlements when there are fewer accidents.
Geo-Fenced Vehicles In Other Industries
Geo-fencing is also being tested by McDonald’s drivers in Stockholm. Because of noise bylaws, heavy truck deliveries aren’t ordinarily allowed in the city at night-time. With geo-fencing, these trucks can be kept under 30 km/h and at a legal decibel level. There are also talks of adding geo-fences to IKEA transport vehicles to ensure that road safety requirements are met.
Initially anti-terrorist technology, geo-fencing is being incorporated into the road safety models of four Swedish cities. This is just a pilot project, but if it proves successful, geo-fenced speed limits may become the standard for commercial drivers. Eventually, it may become the standard for private drivers as well.