British Police are urging Ministers to give them the power to stop vehicles by remote control.
In what will be seen as yet another example of the in-creasing power of Big Brother, drivers face the prospect of their cars being halted by somebody pushing a button.
The police lobby is being led by Superintendent Jim Hammond of Sussex police, who chairs an Association of Chief Police Officers technology working group which is examining the idea.
'Providing an effective means to remotely stop a vehicle is fast becoming a priority,' Hammond told a European conference. 'The development of a safe and controlled system to enable remote stopping has the potential to directly save lives.'
However, Bert Morris, deputy director of the AA Motoring Trust said: 'People don't like the idea of Big Brother taking over their driving. In years to come that might be acceptable, but it's very, very important that there's a step-by-step approach.'
Cars could be stopped by the gradual reduction of engine power so it slowly comes to a stop, or by making sure when drivers come to a halt they can not move again.
Stopping cars remotely sounds futuristic, but the basic technology is already available and used in lorries to limit the top speed to 56mph and in new systems to immobilise stolen cars.
The key is the electronics box in most new cars which, when the driver presses the accelerator or brake, sends a message to the engine to speed up or slow down. It can be programmed to limit the speed generally or according to the position of the car, established via a GPS satellite. For remote operation, a modem, which works like a mobile phone, can be used tell the car to slow down or stop.
Similar radio telemetry was used by Formula One pit crews to adjust the engines of racing cars at up to 200mph - until it was banned this year.
'The technology exists and will become more refined as time goes on,' said Nick Rendell, managing director of the Siemens business developing this technology in the UK.
A senior police officer - assumed to be the chief constable or deputy - can already give the order to stop a car remotely, but that power has rarely if ever been used, said Morris. To use any new powers more widely, police must first overcome some practical problems to reassure Ministers that vehicles would be stopped safety. Ministers will also want reassurances that drivers would not be mistakenly stopped.
ACPO insists that it would only introduce the technology when it was safe. It is calling on the Government to introduce the legislation which it says will be vital to stop vehicles when - as expected - manufacturers develop tyres that run when they are flat. This will make 'stingers' - the spiked strips thrown in front of speeding cars - useless to stop stolen and get-away cars or dangerous drivers.
It is also linked to pressure to make cars 'pointless to steal' because of growing concern about more violent car crime as vehicles become harder to take. The RAC Foundation recently found there were as many as 1,200 car jackings in Britain last year.
Another link is to technology which would stop cars going above certain speed limits - either a fixed maximum such as 70mph, or varying according to the local limit.
The system could even be programmed to reduce speeds below the limit in bad weather or when school children were expected to be about, said Robert Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety, which believes the technology could cut the 3,420 deaths a year on Britain's roads by 59 per cent.
Experts now believe the technology could start to be used voluntarily by the end of the decade and ultimately could be made mandatory.