Geofencing, which is often used to alert another party when a vehicle has crossed a virtual geographic boundary, may take on a more active role in helping drivers adhere to speed limits. 

Ford of Europe is testing a connected vehicle technology that could use geofencing to automatically reduce the speed of vehicles. While there are other driver assistance technologies that help drivers stay within speed limits, this new technology aims to be more flexible and effective, the automaker said. 

“Connected vehicle technology has the proven potential to help make everyday driving easier and safer to benefit everyone, not just the person behind the wheel,” Michael Huynh, manager, city engagement Germany at Ford of Europe, said in a press release announcing the testing of this technology. 

A Sign of the Times 

In the vehicles being tested, the geofenced area’s speed limit appears on the dashboard display cluster, flashing below the vehicle’s current speed. In addition, the vehicle automatically reduces speed to match the speed limit — though this can be overridden by the driver. 

Automatically reducing the speed of vehicles could solve many problems, the company said. For example, it eliminates the risk of a driver not seeing a speed limit sign that is on a route unfamiliar to the driver, hidden by overgrown foliage or lost amid a clutter of other signs. 

The technology could also be used to control speeds around vulnerable areas such as schools, hospitals and shopping centers, and improve the appearance of the areas around roads by reducing the need for signs. 

Flexible Limits 

Additional capabilities could be added in the future, Ford of Europe said. For example, drivers could set their own geofencing zones around private facilities, and local authorities could change speed limits in response to road hazards or road work or at different times of day. 

“Geofencing can ensure speeds are reduced where — and even when — necessary to help improve safety and create a more pleasant environment,” Huynh said. 

The technology is currently being tested in a 12-month trial in Cologne, Germany, that’s running through March 2023. 

Pinpoint Accuracy 

Geofencing is often used in more passive ways — ones that do not control the vehicle — in software applications that include vehicle tracking. It allows the user to define a geofenced area and then receive notifications when a vehicle has crossed the boundaries of that space. 

Common applications of geofencing include notifying managers of commercial fleets if a delivery driver has taken a company vehicle outside the expected route, updating rental car companies if a customer has driven beyond the allowable limits — such as across an international boundary — and keeping parents up to date on the whereabouts of a vehicle driven by their children. 

Other applications include telling the manager of a sales fleet if the vehicle of a salesperson has encroached on someone else’s territory and alerting the owner of any sort of mobile equipment if a unit may have been stolen — for example, if a vehicle leaves a lot where it is meant to be locked up overnight. 



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