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Device Stops Speeders From Inside Car 781

Posted by Zonk
from the will-it-help-me-parallel-park-too dept.
frdmfghtr writes "CNN reports that the Canadian government is testing a new anti-speeding device." From the article: "The system being tested by Transport Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Department of Transportation, uses a global positioning satellite device installed in the car to monitor the car's speed and position. If the car begins to significantly exceed the speed limit for the road on which it's traveling the system responds by making it harder to depress the gas pedal, according to a story posted on the Toronto Globe and Mail's Website."
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Device Stops Speeders From Inside Car

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  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @03:51PM (#14179919)
    I drive a 1999 BMW 323is that is regulated to go no faster than 130 miles per hour. It's actually a pretty neat system - the engine is racing and making a lot of racket when you hit that speed (not that I ever have, mind you). Then it goes over the 130 MPH limit and the gas cuts out and it stops making noise. Then you fall under 130 MPH and the gas cuts back in. Then... you get the idea.

    Calculating speed with GPS and making the gas pedal harder to push seems a little overly complicated.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @03:56PM (#14179951)
    They use those systems because of the tires on the car. It's been common on cars to have governors for years, I think since the mid 80s on GM cars for example.

    This system is to implement a dynamic system based on the speed limit where the car is at any given time.
  • by jesterpilot (906386) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:14PM (#14180058) Homepage
    Research showed an increase of rougly 3% in accidents for every increase of 1 km/h in average speed on a given road. You can find a report here: http://www.swov.nl/rapport/Factsheets/Factsheet_Sn elheid.pdf [www.swov.nl] but it's Dutch, and a pdf.
  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:29PM (#14180151) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly what I was thinking.

    I presume such a GPS system would function via satellites. Satellites have huge latency (more than a few seconds) which would reduce the accuracy of such a system. Rain, snow, and clouds can hamper satellite signal and may make a car disappear from GPS, or could cause inaccurate interpretations which prevent a stopped car from moving at all. At certain times of year, the earth's axis relative to the satellite may cause twinkles or distortions in the atmosphere which are also notorious for interrupting signal phase and frequency.

    How about more cops patrolling? I'd rather be policed by police than a robot under my hood.
  • Re:Full Monty (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phanatic1a (413374) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:37PM (#14180198)
    Although there's an idea... If you speed, you don't get any music or radio. Because, obviously, you need all your attention on the road right then.

    What a bunch of fucking nonsense.

    Look, traffic engineers know, and have known for a very long time, that the safest speed to set speed limits at is the 85% percentile speed: the speed which 85% of the free-flowing traffic on that particular road travels at or below. This is because the large majority of drivers are reasonable and prudent, and while they wish to reach their destination in a short amount of time, they also wish to remain alive and unwrecked.

    If traffic engineers want this speed on a stretch of hypothetical road to drop, they do this by changing the road surface. Narrows, curves, crests, inclines, will all reduce the 85th percentile speed.

    Setting a speed limit lower than the 85th percentile speed doesn't reduce the speed at which traffic flows. I'm going to repeat that again, because it sounds vaguely important:

    Changing the speed limit doesn't change how fast people drive [state.tx.us]. The safe speed for a road is determined by the road design and the road conditions, and *not* by some arbitrary number on a sign.

    The notion that traveling at the posted limit +5 is more dangerous than traveling at the posted limit, or than traveling at the posted limit -5, is reasonable only if the posted limit reflects the 85% percentile speed.

    Sometimes it does. Some states even have it written into their laws that that's how speed limits are determined.

    But more often it does not. More often, speed limits are set artificially low, in order to provide a source of revenue for the state. If you set a speed limit below the 85% percentile speed, people will generally ignore it, drive at the speed dictated by road conditions and their ability, and then you can ticket them for speeding.

    Here are the actual conclusions of that study I linked to just above:

    Based on the free-flow speed data collected for a 24-h period at the experimental and comparison sites in 22 States, posted speed limits were set, on the average, at the 45th percentile speed or below the average speed of traffic

    At sites where speed limits were raised, there was an increase of less than 1.5 mi/h (2.4 km/h) for drivers traveling at and below the 75th percentile speed. When the posted limits were raised by 10 and 15 mi/h (16 and 24 km/h), there was a small decrease in the 99th percentile speed.

    Raising speed limits in the region of the 85th percentile speed has an extremely beneficial effect on drivers complying with the posted speed limits.

    Lowering speed limits in the 33rd percentile speed (the average percentile that speed were posted in this study) provides a noncompliance rate of approximately 67 percent.

      Accidents at the 58 experimental sites where speed limits were lowered increased by 5.4 percent. The level of confidence of this estimate is 44 percent. The 95 percent confidence limits for this estimate ranges from a reduction in accidents of 11 percent to an increase of 26 percent.

      Accidents at the 41 experimental sites where speed limits were raised decreased by 6.7 percent. The level of confidence of this estimate in 59 percent. The 95 percent confidence limits for this estimate ranges from a reduction in accidents of 21 percent to an increase of 10 percent.

      Lowering speed limits more than 5 mi/h (8 km/h) below the 85th percentile speed of traffic did not reduce accidents.


  • by DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:55PM (#14180307)
    Sorry, but you got a few things wrong. Although you might be essentially right, let me be a Fact-Nazi (got it? A German, calling himself a Nazi. Funny, huh? Aw...):

    1. The mandatory check-up (so-called "Hauptuntersuchung") is every _other_ year, and only after four years for a new car. Still, judging from what I see on `Pimp my ride', it is possible in the states to drive cars that would never be allowed on public streets in Germany.

    2. Nobody is "happily driving at 250+ Km/h". Yes, I have been overtaken by the occasional Porsche doing 300 km/h (~190 mph) and Mercs at 220 km/h are not exactly a rare sight, but these people are notorious for closing up to an arm's reach of your bumper with headlights flashing; and they are generally considered arseholes with tiny wangs.

    3. About 60% of the Autobahn network (that's an estimate, I couldn't be bothered to look it up) have speed limitation, typically 120 km/h. That doesn't stop people from speeding there, but they get caught sooner or later (the Autobahn police squad sports disguised, camera-fitted cars with appropriate engines)

    4. From what I hear from friends with American licenses, you are right about driving licences.

    5. Accidents don't happen on Autobahns. They happen on county roads with sharp curves, crossroads and narrow passages. Due to the Autobahn's construction (or any other Highway's, for that matter), head-on crashes are nearly impossible, and deadly crashes are much rarer than they are on county roads (believe me, I am an EMT...)
  • Re:Full Monty (Score:5, Informative)

    by mesocyclone (80188) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:00PM (#14180335) Homepage Journal
    The poster seems to be under the delusion that speed limits are always tied to the current maximum safe speed.

    This is absurd, as other factors can be at work:

    political (the town I live in has 5mph lower speed limits on exactly the same roads and road conditions as the towns around it - and not coincidentally is the first town in the US to use photo-radar).

    legal - in the US, every state (except perhaps one) has an absolute maximum for speed limits. Clearly some roads and vehicles are capable of being driven safely at much higher speeds on some road segments in those states. Not that long ago, the idiot Jimmy Carter forced a 55mph maximum speed limit throughout the US, that lasted until 1994. The interstate highway system was built for much higher speeds (I believe 75mph) and the Kansas Turnpike for 80mph, it's previous speed limit.

    safety for non-familiar drivers - a road can have conditions which make the maximum safe speed lower than the apparent (to non-familiar drivers) safe speed. The authorities may choose to set the speed limit lower to compensate.

    weather - the speed limit may be lowered to compensate for common but not continuous weather conditions such as high winds.

    Traffic engineers used to set speed limits, in the absence of other factors, determining the 85th percentile speed of unconstrained drivers. In other words, presumably 85 percent of the drivers, based on their experience and perceptions, drove at or below the maximum safe speed. They would, of course, set them lower at hard to see hazards such as hidden curves.

    If one is going to have such a system, soft but effective feedback seems much better than hard limits.

    BTW... some cars have unadvertised built-in speed limits. My 2001 Toyota Sequoia appears to have a 100mph limit. One day on a storm chase, on a very good road with almost infinite visibility, we tried it, and at 100mph the engine refused to go faster, even though it clearly had the capacity. I suspect this may be because they didn't want to put bigger tables into the engine computer.

  • Re:Full Monty (Score:5, Informative)

    by raoul666 (870362) <pi.rocks@gmaiPERIODl.com minus punct> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:01PM (#14180348)
    In regards to your ambulance point: actually, on the way to accident scenes, those things do go well over the speed limit. So do police cars and fire trucks. Once the person is in the ambulance, yes, they slow down - the person is already getting medical attention. But shaving 30 seconds off a 5 minute trip to get to the guy having a heart attack can easily be the difference between life and death.

    Also, there are times (rare, yes) when speeding to the hospital is not the worst idea. The hospital where I live is slightly out of town, and to get there you have to go on a highway of sorts. The limit is 60km/h for part of it. Oh a straight road, no lights, no fast turns or merging traffic, if it was 4 in the morning and someone was dying in my backseat, going up to 100 would not be an issue.
  • Re:Not safe (Score:2, Informative)

    by NF6X (725054) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:17PM (#14180433) Homepage
    Once back when I had my WRX, I was waiting at a red light to turn left from a freeway off-ramp. When the light turned green, I checked that it was clear both ways and began my turn. Then I saw that there was a vehicle coming towards the intersection from my left side fast enough that it didn't look like the driver was planning to stop at their red light. This is in the USA (i.e., drive on the right side land), so I was already crossing his path. I judged that if I hit the brakes, there was a good chance that I'd get T-boned if the other car didn't stop. Since I had all of those little horsies under the hood, I down-shifted and floored it. My car's excellent acceleration and handling allowed me to clear the intersection safely. The other driver saw his red light too late (or maybe he didn't see it at all and was just reacting to my car being in the intersection), slammed on his brakes, and came to a stop well into the intersection.

    I'm not sure if things would have turned out so well if I was driving a slower car which may not have been capable of accelerating enough to avoid the oncoming car or to make the turn safely at the speed that was necessary. I may have reacted differently if I was driving a different vehicle in the same situation. In that particular situation I was doing my best to drive safely and defensively beforehand, and at that instant I judged that accelerating would be the best option given the situation and my car's performance envelope.

    Based on my driving experience, I'd agree that it's much more common to need to suddenly decelerate to avoid a collision than to suddenly accelerate. Still, situations where it's necessary to suddenly accelerate (even beyond the posted speed limit) to avoid a crash do arise sometimes, even when you're paying attention and driving in a safe and legal manner. A safe and defensive driver tries to avoid getting into situations where they need to take sudden evasive actions by anticipating the actions of other drivers and leaving enough room for nearby boneheads to do boneheaded things without hitting them. Still, sometimes you'll encounter another driver whose boneheadedness exceeds reasonable expectations. :-)

  • Re:Full Monty (Score:5, Informative)

    by niko9 (315647) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:46PM (#14180586)
    As a New York City Paramedic, I agree. Here in New York State, we are never alowed to exceed the speed limit, no matter what the scenario. We are (same goes for FDNY) not even allowed to take red lights. Only the NYPD can do that.

    The sick person being transported to the hospital is already sick, there is no exuse to jeopardize the public after the fact. The same holds true for responding to calls.

    There have been quite a few case lately were EMTs or Paramedics have received jail time for their reckeless driving.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:54PM (#14180636)
    They also noted that the red light cameras, due to the deliberately decreased yellow light time, caused MORE accidents.

    This of course pisses people off badly, when a "saftey" feature is turned instead to generate revenue and causes more problems at the same time.
  • by Guspaz (556486) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:56PM (#14180647)
    Obviously you missed the part about "The Canadian government". There isn't really any situation where "evasive high speed" would ever be needed.

    I mean, if there were a natural disaster in Montreal, the only roads that could support high speeds (the highways) would be gridlocked traffic much like they are every day during rushhour.
  • by SenFo (761716) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @06:22PM (#14180782) Homepage
    Once and only once have I escaped by speeding up and that was on a 2003 ZX-6R (sport bike) capable of accelerating MUCH faster than your average car. I had somebody to my right and I was in the left lane when some idiot in an SUV decided to take the shoulder to pass a bunch of cars. the jersey wall started to come in, decreasing room on the shoulder for his truck. When he realized this, he was heading right for my tail. I had ZERO time to maneuver because I was trapped. I had no choice but to cut down the middle of two 18 wheelers in order to make my escape.

    Very fortunate was that this was also the only time there was ever a cop around when you needed one. A Maryland state trooper saw the whole thing and pulled him over. Hopefully he lost his license.
  • by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:24PM (#14181107) Homepage
    You missed the 'for any reasonable length of time' bit in the summary. If you need to put your foot down to get out of the way of something, do it. The system shouldn't flag you up for 8 seconds of flat out acceleration.
  • Re:Hang on... (Score:3, Informative)

    by travisco_nabisco (817002) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:36PM (#14181160)
    On Highways I agree that speed limits do seem restrivtive, however, in town they are very intelligent. The speed of a vehicle has a large impact on the severity of accidents when pedestrians are impacted.

    http://www.nisu.flinders.edu.au/pubs/bulletin9/b9p 7.html [flinders.edu.au] check paragraph 6

    In areas where there are many driveways, pedestrians on the side of the street, cyclists, etc, speed needs to be regulated.

    Here are a few sections from another article:
    Are pedestrians at risk from speeding vehicles on city streets and suburban roads? Yes. The second largest category of motor vehicle deaths, after occupants, is pedestrians, and 69 percent of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas. The speed of vehicles involved in pedestrian impacts is a major determinant of the severity and outcome of injury. There is a much higher ratio of deaths to injuries where speed limits are higher - nine times as high where the speed limit is 55 mph as on roads where it is 30 mph or lower. A federal study of pedestrian crashes found a positive correlation between speed and injury severity. In addition, vehicle speed influences the likelihood that a pedestrian will be struck in the first place because a driver cannot stop quickly enough. One study found that, even in residential zones, almost 20 percent of vehicles were traveling at more than 30 mph when they struck pedestrians. Some cities are using new approaches to slowing urban traffic to reduce pedestrian crashes, especially in school and work zones.

    What is the role of speed in crashes? Speed influences crashes in four basic ways:
    It increases the distance a vehicle travels from when a driver detects an emergency until the driver reacts.
    It increases the distance needed to stop a vehicle once an emergency is perceived.
    Crash severity increases by the square of the speed so that, when speed increases from 40 to 60 mph, speed goes up 50 percent while the energy released in a crash more than doubles.
    Higher crash speeds reduce the ability of vehicles and restraint systems to protect occupants.

    http://usww.com/homepage/starteam/speed.html#s1 [usww.com]
  • by ergo98 (9391) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:55PM (#14181251) Homepage Journal
    If this article were about the US, the first 100 or so posts would have been about what a facist Bush is. But since it's aboot Canada, folks are actually debating the technical merits instead of pointing out what socialism gets you.

    Ah, nothing like overwhelming ignorance to keep things going. Topped off with that good old ignorance "Canada is socialist" nuggest.

    Transport Canada is involved in this case purely to certify a private initiative to be roadworthy - the same way that they certify cruise control, ABS, car RADAR, and other alterations of a traditional car. If you're a private business and you want to sell or install something that could affect the safety of a vehicle, you can't until you have it certified by Transport Canada.

    In no way is this a government initiative. In fact, Transport Canada is a federal agency, while operational roadway safety is a provincial mandate. If this were going to be implemented as a mandatory method of roadway safety, it would have been the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (the MTO) that would have been involved.

    The company involved likely wants to sell this device to transport companies, and perhaps rental fleet companies. It has nothing to do with your rights (especially one's rights online).
  • by michaelsimms (141209) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @09:56PM (#14181891) Homepage
    I can give you a perfect example of when speeding up is required. I know someone that had this happen.

    They were on a low powered motorcycle.

    A large truck came up behind them - hadnt seen them

    They didnt have the power to pull away

    The truck destroyed the bike, the person only survived by throwing themselves off the bike and grabbing a tree at 50 MPH, breaking a lot of bones. The bike was spread over 180 yards of road.

    In this instance it was the bikes lack of power causing the problem, but if that same power was cut off by a computer - and that caused a death - it shouldnt be possible.
  • Re:You do realize... (Score:3, Informative)

    by binarybum (468664) on Monday December 05, 2005 @12:39AM (#14182763) Homepage
    "The car is not a symbol of freedom"

            Are you from the US? Do you remember being a teenager? Have you ever seen a car commercial? Do you realize how much the automobile has changed the physical/social/political landscape of this country?

        I suggest this course. [ferris.edu]

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