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Satellite 'spies' could stop speeding cars

Satellite monitoring and control of vehicles could cut the annual road accident rate in Britain by as much as a third, but would likely enrage civil liberties groups

Satellites capable of monitoring an automobile's speed and automatically cutting off its fuel supply may become a reality for British motorists within 10 years, according to new studies.

Research into this technology has been carried out in recent months by researchers at Leeds University and at the Motor Industry Research Association. These groups were commissioned to seek-out technologies that might enhance road safety in Britain by the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions in 1997.

The results will contribute towards the Department's ongoing research into road safety in an interim report to be presented to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott at the end of January.

The report is to recommend that satellite monitoring and control of vehicles could cut the annual road accident rate in Britain by as much as a third. The equipment required to make this a reality should cost just £60 per car. The introduction of this sort of controlling technology is, however, likely to enrage civil libertarian groups.

A spokesman from the Department for Transport is keen to point out, however, that this space-age technology is a long way from becoming a reality for motorists. "The department is looking into many options and researching many technologies," he says. "If a technology might make the roads safer, then it is incumbent on the Department to research it. That doesn't meant that this technology will be adopted."

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