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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 Stele (9443) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:42PM (#14179842) Homepage
    I wonder how long before people will be sued for using their cruise control to bypass the rigid accelerator pedal? Under the DMCA of course.
  • No. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:51PM (#14179917)
    Would these internal computers be able to determine the position of the car?

    This detail is important because the speed limit varies from area to area, and it really sounds more cost effective to set up a central database to determine the speed limit as the cars move from point.A to point.B, and if it were to exceed the limit, just send a blip to the offending car's real-time digital speedometer (I'd assume) and the car's gas-petal would increase resistance.

  • by Chaffar (670874) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:53PM (#14179933)
    I will lose all respect of the Canadian government if they actually try to implement such a device. I thought that the German Autobahn should've been a lesson to the world that it's not speed in itself that is dangerous, it's having unsafe cars being driven on unsafe roads by irresponsible people.

    What do the Germans have that we don't? Are they smarter (don't answer that), are they better drivers, do they have better roads ? Well the answer is IMHO yes. They aren't smarter, but they are more responsible behind the wheel... they aren't better drivers, their driving license is MUCH harder to get; they have better roads, but they also have WELL MAINTAINED CARS.

    So in essence, the Germans are happily driving at 250+ Km/h on their autobahns without having significantly more accidents than us, because they have much higher standards when it comes to issuing drivers' licenses, they have suited roads, and their cars go through a very strict mechanical check-up every year, to make sure they are road-legal.

    So stop pointing fingers at just speed, and start admitting that the reason we crash as much as we do is because we have too many sh*tty cars with sh*tty drivers. Period.

  • Re:Hang on... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mathmathrevolution (813581) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:56PM (#14179954)
    I like the way the Canadian government does it. It only slows you down after it catches you, but before they give you a ticket. This system could save me about a $50 a year.
  • Red Barchetta (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:11PM (#14180041) Homepage Journal
    87 comments - and not a one mentioning Red Barchetta? What is wrong with you people?
  • Re:Full Monty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TCQuad (537187) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:15PM (#14180063)
    A noisemaker would be cheaper.

    It would, and my car (a 1989 Mercury Cougar) has the old-school (non-GPS) variant on that called a speed alarm. Basically, you set the alarm at your cruising speed and it tells you when you've gone 5 mph over the set speed with a little beep (it starts flashing as soon as you go over, if I remember correctly).

    The problem with it is that it's not directly connected to the thought of speeding. There have been many-a-time that I've heard the beeping and thought "What the hell?", even though I personally set the speed I wanted to go not five minutes earlier.

    If you're going to help people remember that pushing the gas pedal right now may not be the best of ideas, then the least distracting and most direct way to do it is to rig the gas pedal in this manner.

    Besides, in order to get over the noise of the radio and cell phone, do you know how loud that sucker would have to be?

    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.
  • Re:Safety issues? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NitsujTPU (19263) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:23PM (#14180120)
    Bah.

    I drive a suped up Z-28. Back home in Va, I'll get kids in civics who want to think that they're fast who will tailgate and try to race. When one of those jerks comes to close (some of those putzes get pretty close to hitting you), I blast forward a bit to keep from getting my bumper tagged by some 16 year old who saw The Fast and the Furious too many times.

    Also, I'd rather the car behave as I expect.
  • by MO! (13886) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#14180130) Homepage
    Well, as someone who's driven from the west coast to the north east in a rented moving truck with a governor set to 70mph - I feel it's not so much "big brother" it's plain dangerous!

    Most of I40 through Arizona & New Mexico has a speed limit of 75mph, since there's not much there to get in the way. The only places things slow down are up and down through the mountain passes. In my loaded moving truck, I could maintain the 70mph speed up hill - while the 18 wheel trucks slowed to 50ish. Down hill on opposite side of mountain, they could regain speed while I was still at 70, thus passing me as they cruised back to 75+ on flat section. The result was a constant game of pass em while ya can! I'd pass them uphill, they'd pass me downhill, and drift off into distance on flat stretches. Only to get bunch up again at next uphill. As it got later in the day, this became such a hazard to me in the little moving truck, I've never rented a moving truck from that rental company again. No idea if they still use governors, but the fact I had to deal with it once is enough that I don't care to find out. I've rented from a competitor that doesn't use such devices since - and yes, I've driven from west coast to east, then back to west, then back to east - so 3 trips cross country so far... I thought I was going to die several times during that first trip limited to 70mph - I will never do that again.

    In summary, it's just simply a bad idea!

  • Re:Safety issues? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by optikSmoke (264261) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:38PM (#14180205) Homepage
    Well, no one I know drives less than 10km/h over the speed limit, basically anywhere. Most people (myself included) seem to have a sort of "sliding scale", where the most you exceed increases as the speed limit increases. 120km/h in a 100 zone doesn't seem to be speeding to me, and no one would be pulled over for going 110 (hell, the cops would probably be going at least that).

    Now, what the government decides is excessive may be a different story, but I can't see people taking anything that doesn't line up with how most people drive these days anyway. The CBC would probably have some kind of media fit.... heh (I recall some discussions on CBC radio awhile ago about tightening speeding laws... the general conclusion being that it was a bad idea, and tends not to decrease accidents anyway).
  • by spinfire (148920) <dpn@isomerica.net> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:52PM (#14180291) Homepage
    If you implement systems like this, or other speed enforcement techniques like photo radar, the DOT needs to fix the underposted speed limits first. Traffic engineering rules specify that a good speed limit is the 85th percentile speed of unrestricted (IE, not stuck in traffic, not being enforced by a cop) traffic, rounded up to the nearest multiple of five. Studies show that this speed is the safest speed to drive at, regardless of any artificially chosen "limit" which is clearly not a limit in any sense of the word because the limits are routinely disobeyed.

    If you want people to take speed limits seriously you need to make the limits appropriate and enforce them appropriately. A favorite trick in many states is to post a rediculously low (20 or 30mph under the prevailing traffic speed) work zone speed limit where no actual work is occuring. Then a police officer sits there and pulls over the people at the high end of the normal traffic speeds and tickets them. This behavior is unsafe, unfair, increases distrust of law enforcement and leads people to believe the whole traffic system is a scam.

    A local expressway here is posted at 65. People typically drive between 65 and 80. Some drive faster. 80 is a completely safe speed on this road (in good conditions) and the off duty police drive much faster on their way home. A reasonable solution would be to set the limit at 80 or 85. Most people wouldn't drive that fast. I know most of the time I'd stick around 70 for fuel mileage but knowing it was legal to accelerate faster than that for passing or traffic maneuvers would increase safety.
  • by Jaime2 (824950) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:57PM (#14180314)
    Speed enforcement needs to change. A few years ago, the speed limit on all major closed highways in New York was 55mph or less. The State Police would give you a ticket for going 64 and then give you a lecture that it was all for public safety, in other words, going faster was going to cause someone to die. Well, then they raised the cap to 65mph for highways without a lot of entrances and exits (usually about one every 3 miles or more). And guess what, the highway death rate has decreased!!!! I'm sure the death rate didn't decrease because of higher speeds, but it sure didn't go up because of the speed.

    Speed enforcement is a money game here in the US. No one really cares if the roads are safer, they just want ticket money. I even heard of a recent case where a districy raised the budget for ticket collection by $1,000,000 without even consulting the Police Department. They simply told them to go out and get more money.

    Here's where it gets good..... If cars were elecronically limited to never speed, then speed enforcement would become a dead industry. Fewer and fewer cars would speed as old cars are replaced by new. Then the police would go do something productive (like watch for people running stop signs, or suddenly changing lanes in front of a car, or something else that actually kills people). One good thing already. Now, someone has to provide the data that the in-vehicle speed limiters use. Some day they're going to screw up and label a section of a 55mph road 15mph or something similar. In the first day, they will cause thousands of traffic accidents and probably a few deaths. Imaging if half the cars on the 405 in LA suddenly slowed to less than a quarter of the speed limit and THEY were panicking because they are as confused as they guy coming up behind them. After that day (and the lawsuits) no company will want to control the system. There goes the speed limiters and the police have already taken up more fruitful pursuits. Yea!!!

    With a country that loves cars and lawsuits as much as we do, it couldn't happen any other way.
  • Not far enough (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bigbutt (65939) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @06:08PM (#14180388) Homepage Journal
    Come on here, use some imagination.

    Street signals connected to signs a short distance down the road (already done now). If on, your car slows down and stops at the appropriate place.

    Radar to determine the distance from objects.

    Sensor, if you didn't use the turn signal, you won't be allowed to change lanes. You can't change lanes for 10 seconds after successfully changing lanes.

    Digital speedo that keeps you at the appropriate speed limit.

    Sensors in the asphalt so that if you're slower than surrounding traffic, you're automatically sped up or your signal hits and you are shifted to a slower lane.

    The radar will prevent you from changing lanes if there's an object in the lane next to you.

    Sensors in stop signs that make you stop and not roll through.

    RFID chips in people with birthdate so if a "kid" runs out into the street, your car is already sounding the horn and stopping.

    When passing other vehicles, the road sensors let you exceed the speed limit by 15mph. Since there are sensors and radar, you won't be allowed to attempt to pass if you don't have enough horsepower to successfully pass.

    Eliminate the need for stopsigns, lights, double yellow lines, solid yellow lines on your side of the road. Everyone knows where everyone is so you can pass on a blind curve without a chance of encountering oncoming traffic (can't help you with deer or other wildlife, or road hazards).

    Your car can download weather conditions beamed directly from points on the highway. With sensors, your speed will be adjusted for conditions as necessary.

    Since every will be id'd, the best routes to work will be known. Traffic density will be monitored and your car won't start if there's an issue or you'll be rerouted to avoid problems.

    Cars will automatically pull over if an emergency vehicle is approaching. Cars will stop when approaching school buses that are picking up or dropping off kids. Emergency vehicles will be able to trigger lights to all be green. With cars pulling over, they won't have to slow down going through intersections.

    The RFID chips that are embedded in people will light up adjacent signs warning traffic, for example if kids are playing, the "Children Playing" signs will be lit. Otherwise they'll be turned off.

    With traffic density known, lights will be able to know the best traffic flow pattern and we'll get to work better.

    Traffic will be able to approach speeds appropriate to the vehicle and surrounding conditions and will be able to sit a car length behind the next car which will let the traffic density increase safely.

    Just some quick thoughts.

    [John]
  • Re:Full Monty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by syousef (465911) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @06:23PM (#14180460) Journal
    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.

    Three problems with this.

    Firstly if a driver is unfamiliar with the road, and therefore unaware of the traffic calming measures coming up ahead and may speed on into a dangerous situation. You therefore create a hazard not just for that driver but everyone else around them.

    Secondly those traffic calming measures also add to the difficulty and hazard in driving when other circumstances take place: eg. wet weather, roadworks

    Thirdly, those familiar with the road tend to overestimate their own abilities. There's been a lot of roadwork in the area in which I live for the last two years, and I've seen idiots doing 70km/hr where the limit is 40, and with good reason.

    You're right that no one wants to crash. You're wrong about people being sensible about it.

    But in all honesty speeding fines etc. are all about politics and revenue. There has never been any genuine interest in reducing crashes. Car manufacturers have done more to make cars safe than anyone (and they're doing it for selfish reasons too - to sell cars).
  • Yay! Finally!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @06:50PM (#14180606) Journal
    Some years ago, at $CANADIAN_UNIVERSITY, I had a computer project management class whose teacher was a moonlighting project manager for the Royal Canadien Maudit Police.

    Over the course of the session, each team had to submit a project outline. The only catch was that it had to be of interest to law enforcement. You can imagine the groans in the classroom when he said that...

    Even though my team would have nothing of it, I proposed to the teacher a black-box that would automagically ticket bad driving.

    When the teacher heard that, his face suddenly blank, and instead of his usually happy answers, he responded an extremely curt "no, anyway it's coming" that was so curt that it drew the air out of me.

    I'm glad that it's finally there.

    * * *

    And now, time to repeat my usual hardass statement about driving:

    Driving performed on **PUBLIC** roads being public, one shall not have any expectation of privacy whilst doing so.

    Driving is a ***PRIVILEGE***, not a right, so your licenses can be pulled at will if you drive like stupid monkeys on drugs.

  • by jedo (470842) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:13PM (#14180735)
    Another interesting situation with red light cameras. I guess being dead [phoenixnewtimes.com] won't stop you from getting a ticket anymore!
  • by jc42 (318812) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:14PM (#14180742) Homepage Journal
    I will lose all respect of the Canadian government if they actually try to implement such a device.

    Well, I'll lose all respect for their product test cycle if it ever gets out of alpha testing.

    We've had a Garmin 3600 GPS gadget for a couple of years. It's a nice tool, but you quickly learn that it has certain, uh, limits.

    For example, I often take a local street to avoid a busy stretch of our local super-highway (Boston's Route 128). The two roads are only about 10-20m apart for part of the drive, and the GPS map often shows me jumping back and forth between them. The speed limit on one is about twice the limit on the other.

    Similarly, if I'm on the main highway, my GPS position often shows as the nearby frontage road. So the proposed gadget would show me going 2-3 times the speed limit of the street that it thinks I'm on. I'm not sure that trying to slow me down to 25 mph on a busy super-highway is all that wonderful an idea. And this problem isn't limited to adjacent "frontage" roads; sometimes my GPS position puts me on a street a block away from my real position.

    I've seen cases where my GPS position was more than a mile from my real position. This lasts a few minutes, and then suddenly corrects itself. I wonder if the US military is again playing games with the satellites. But I don't know.

    This afternoon, I was driving south on a local street in a nearby town. I glanced at the GPS gadget, and suddenly it showed me headed north on the street at around 150 mph. A few seconds later, it showed me headed south at my actual position, but at over 200 mph. Then my speed dropped back to around 30. I wonder what the proposed gadget would do with my gas pedal and/or brake in this situation?

    This gadget has the ability to record a trip, including times, positions and speed. I recently looked at this after a trip, and was a bit amused when it said that my top speed was 350 mph. I've been contemplating the prospect (proposed seriously by some people) that such devices be installed in cars for evidence to be used in court.

    In real life, the guys doing the programming and testing have some very interesting problems on their hands.

    Actually, I think these problems are interesting. I wonder how one might get a job working on such problems? It seems to me that they might be solvable. But it also seems to me that Garmin hasn't solved them yet. Stories from other GPS users are similar, so apparently nobody (or maybe no commercial developer) has solved them yet.

    Of course, for uses like they intended, they don't really need to fix these petty inaccuracies. Users just get a chuckle now and then and quickly learn the gadget's foibles. But making the device responsible for part of the vehicle's operation or use of GPS data by the legal system are something rather different.

    My prediction is that it will fail and quietly disappear during alpha testing. Of course, it's always possible that the bureaucracy will ignore this and decree use of the technology anyway. It wouldn't be the first time that stuff was debugged by the victims^Wcustomers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:34PM (#14180845)
    Current NavSTAR GPS constellation is what, 5-8 years past the end of its expected lifespan and no replacement in sight? Makes me nervous every time I see something relying on GPS for information. All it takes is a couple of satellite failures, or the US Military deciding that they don't want people using GPS and it all goes up in smoke.
  • Re:Hang on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spauldo (118058) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @07:57PM (#14180958)
    The Autobahn doesn't really compare well to U.S. driving - the driving situation is too different. All the little rules that are just considered common courtesy in the U.S. are law there (drive in the rightmost lane on long stretches, only pass on the left, leave the left lane as soon as you pass, etc.). Here, on a four lane highway in Oklahoma, I drive consistantly on the left because I go about five miles over, although I pull to the right if someone fast comes up behind me. In Germany, I'd get ticketed for that.

    Also bear in mind that the Autobahn is monitored electronically and the speed limits are variable depeinding on the amount of traffic at any one time. The U.S. doesn't have anything like that (and really, with as much Interstate as we've got here, we can't).

    Better would be to compare states with similar driving conditions but different speed limits. In Oklahoma, the speed limit on the Interstate is 70. In Illinois, it's 65. In Texas, I think it's lower for trucks than cars (which always seemed abysmally stupid to me - you're causing obstacles in traffic that way). It makes more sense to compare the accident rates on selected areas of similar highway and derive your results from that.
  • by izomiac (815208) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @08:46PM (#14181212) Homepage
    Most of the rational behind why it's a bad idea that I've seen so far is because there are in fact a few situations where speeding for a short period of time is necessary. Well, that seems more like a minor oversight than an actual flaw with the device. If the increase in pressure were gradual, or perhaps only when you sped for more than, say, 20 seconds, wouldn't that make most counter-arguements moot? Notice that it doesn't actually prevent you from speeding, it just makes it more difficult. So in the unlikely event of an unpredicted disaster you could still speed all you want as you make your escape. (Of course, I doubt such things happen often in real life since enough people would wreak going that fast that the roads would probably become obstructed.) I mean, I understand that most people prefer going faster than the speed limit, but at least be honest about it. Don't dismiss the technology unless it's fundamentally flawed. My point is that if you do something illegal then you don't really have a right to complain if the authorites take measures to make it harder for you to do so.
  • by mboverload (657893) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @08:52PM (#14181237) Journal
    A city near me was actually caught with a yellow light time of ~2 seconds. It was supposed to be 3. They had to refund all the red light tickets.
  • by pipingguy (566974) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @08:54PM (#14181248) Homepage

    Computerized enforcement of laws is only going to get worse.

    In the past, punishment for illegal parking/speeding was overly harsh so as to make an example of those caught. Now that "they" are gaining the ability to catch/fine *all* infractions, do we see the penalties decreasing? Nope.

    Just something to think about as we rush headlong into the great 21st century with computers and stuff.
  • by Vancorps (746090) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @09:46PM (#14181481)
    If I listened to everything I learned in drivers ed I probably would have been in a lot more collisions. I went to the Bondurant School of driving (Company sponsored) Was both good fun and great education learning how to handle your car sliding on the road because conditions change rapidly. Managing a collision is just as important as avoiding it.

    As far as speed goes its a tough concept because all drivers are not equal. A 16 year old goin 130mph is inherently more dangerous than a 32 year old race car driver. Granted, a 32 year old mother of three is probably not the best person to be going 130 either. Education and reflexes are two important factors. I don't see a way to fairly apply these skills to the road so for the most part I'll drive 10 - 15 over when traffic allows and more on the highway again when traffic allows. Traffics cops here in AZ are generally pretty reasonable. I've seen then pull up next to a girl goin 90, they point to her motioning at her dash and she realizes what she's been doing. In my mind that should generally be the goal rather than ticketing. Have the cop turn on the lights to let you know you're screwing up. Correct your speed at that point. If you don't then they further and ticket you. Can't take away that power otherwise they don't have any effect when they turn their lights on.

    That said I've had issues with traffic cops before. When I was 16 in my Probe GT that I bought with money I earned from being a net admin I'd get pulled over once a week for no reason. Once it was a dark and stormy night, so I was driving a little slow and hugging the white line cause I couldn't see very well. Yep, cop pulled me over wondering if I'd been drinking. Naturally I was coming home from work, the only thought in my mind was my bed so it pissed me off to no end. I also had a situation of entrapment. Was driving at 3am again coming home from work not a car around. In my rear view mirror I see a car two miles back. Few minutes later is on my bumper driving erratically like they want to pass, so I slow down to allow them to pass legally but they stay on my bumper. So I speed up a little but still he stays on my bumper. Then I downshift and take off, he wait untils I'm going 85 in a 45 to turn on his lights.

    A week later all of the cops in the city were taken off of traffic duty for about 3 months. Apparently I'm not the only one they did that too. I don't like the idea of hard speed limits. I think if you give drivers more responsibility they will drive more responsibly. There are always people that are the exception but I think the majority would be reasonable.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:11PM (#14181992) Journal

    'm a big fan of slowing to a stop in the road. They'll generally pass before you completely stop.

    I have this theory. It's called gravity. All objects in the universe have a gravimetric attraction towards each other. Gravity falls off with the square of the distance as I recall. So it stands to reason that the closer you get to my rear bumper the harder it is going to be for me to push my foot down on the gas ;)

    That said, brake checking is illegal - you'll get a ticket for reckless driving (or similar) to match their "following too closely" ticket. Well, depending on how smooth the other party is when the cops arrive, anyway...

    Yeah, but it doesn't stop me when I'm annoyed at being followed too closely. You'd probably have a hard time getting away with it on an open highway (but then, on an open highway, why didn't the asshole just pass you?) but in town or traffic you could always claim that somebody cut you off and you had to slow down. Plus the other guy being somebody as inconsiderate enough to tailgate isn't likely to be very smooth when the cops come.

    One time after I got rear-ended by someone I got out to ask if she was ok. She promptly started screaming at me "Why the fuck did you stop?". As though it was my fault she rear ended me while talking on her cell phone. I wound up in a screaming match with her and the paramedics broke us up (happened right in front of the fire station). By the time the police arrived I was calm and collected. Working for the insurance agency kind of taught me the drill. She bitched and swore at them and wound up getting a following too closely ticket -- I didn't even open my mouth. After they talked to me they decided to issue her a ticket for distracted driving and violation of the NYS law against handheld cell phone use. For the record I was stopped and waiting for her to pass me so I could back into a parking space -- with my turn signal on!

  • by bigsteve@dstc (140392) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @11:16PM (#14182031)
    How about when your father is having a heart attack and there is no local ambulance?

    But what if you cause a fatal traffic accident while driving your father to the hospital at 20 to 30 mph above the speed limit?

    Having some government nanny controlling my accelerator is not welcome or appropriate.

    Tell that to someone who has lost a relative in a traffic accident caused by speeding. I think my right to protection from being killed by a road maniac trumps your "right" to break the law by speeding, even if you think you have a justification.

    Enforcement of the law is up to the police, not some computer ...

    Are you prepared to fund the cost of putting thousands of extra police cars on the road to enforce the speeding laws? Besides, don't long distance trucks have to have speed limiters fitted by law in the USA? They do in Australia!

    ... that may have buggy software

    This is hypothetical, and (IMO) highly unlikely. If people can build software reliable enough to fly an A370, or run an embedded heart defibrilator, they can surely build something as simple as this in a safe manner.

    - and how much is it going to cost for this big-brother system that is able to monitor every vehicle on the roads?

    Unfortunately, cost is likely to be the big stumbling block.

  • by bdwoolman (561635) on Monday December 05, 2005 @12:12AM (#14182351) Homepage
    In Singapore, where selling chewing gum is illegal, they have bells in the taxis that chime when the speed is too high. I have never had a quiet taxi ride in from the airport. Ting, ting, ting. The driver doubts I'll report him since I'm a foreigner. Would a Singaporean report him? I don't know.

    Heck, who needs a bell or a force feedback pedal? Why not have a GPS enabled black box that records your speeds and locations then compares it against a map that includes details of the speed limits? Upload those coords every month or loose your driving "privileges". Too many violations and your insurance goes up and you get points or, in Singapore, maybe a caning. Criminals who needed to drive fast would fiddle their boxes. People who just wanted to drive fast would hack their boxes and suddenly they would be in a different league than, say, a speeder.

    Why stop with cars. What about a government-sponsored site logger to log where you go on the net? Why not just subpoena my Amazon records, or my Google searches. And where is Gator these days? Changed the name and making money hand over fist.

    Hey I've got it. What about a computer license? Whoa. There's a thought. We need ham radio licenses don't we? We should have internet licenses. I'm writing my congressman now or the Canadians will beat us to it.

    After all, use of the internet is a privilege, not a right. Three more bad words in a tech forum and you're limited to 1200 baud downloads for a month Mr. Potty Key.

    Joking aside, it is the culture of control that is, to my mind, so insidious. (Don't mind us. We're watching. If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.) Well, fine, FOR NOW.

    This driving plan.. This little bit of well intentioned, but invasive technology won't end road culture. It might even save a few lives if it makes it through to implementation (which I doubt). A CCTV in a mall makes sense, but where does it stop. At the parking lot. Okay. Maybe. How about at the long red light at the edge of town that should flash yellow at three in the morning, but doesn't? Want a hidden red light camera there to fatten the city coffers? Well, maybe some of you do. Count me out.

    But what bothers me about this nasty Canadian scheme is the idea that you take away the volition from the driver and give it to a system. (I understand that the driver can override it in an emergency. That is NOT the point.) Do it enough and people stop being as accountable for their own actions. It's natural. "Damn, girl, we're off the GPS grid for some reason. Let's let her rip while we can. See what this buggy can do. School zone? I could give a rat's ass. Let's BOOGEY." Most people obey the law. They do it from within and because they care about what their friends think; that is, unless they are watched all the time by the authorities. Then they abrogate the responsibility.

    I spent a long time in the former Soviet Union. People there are still having a hard time adjusting to not being watched. (In Russia they are back in the comfort zone, I fear.) You want to see some bad driving. Go to Georgia. The one in the Caucasus. They may be driving badly, but they are going in the right direction.

    Towards liberty.

  • Re:Full Monty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by coolGuyZak (844482) on Monday December 05, 2005 @01:16AM (#14182662)
    Well, in NYC, you'll be lucky if you're going half of the speed limit, let alone speeding ;)

    From what I know of emergency response within the state of Pennsylvania: Police, EMT, and firefighters get "carte blanche" access to the roads when their sirens/lights are on. Not only do they have unlimited speed limit & can run lights, but all traffic in front of them is legally required to yield as well. There is a tradeoff involved. If any of the above is involved in an accident while their sirens are on, they are automatically liable for it.

  • by DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) on Monday December 05, 2005 @03:37AM (#14183200)
    Since the average traffic density is much higher in Germany (we have the world's third most crowded road network, after Hong Kong and the Emirates, with 194.5 cars per km of road, and yes, I have looked that up. The States, to give you an idea, have 34.1 vehicles per km of road, making them number 42 on the list, right after Serbia...[1]), giant car pileups happen once in a while, just because they are possible at all (how long would it take on an interstate highway in the Middle West for 30 cars to pile up? :-). Those normally produce a huge load of scrap metal, yet only minor injuries (and maybe one or two lethalities, most often in the car right in front, where the impact speed was highest). I've been summoned to one accident with about 30 cars once (and that was the only one of this scale I've seen so far) where the only "casualty" was a pregnant woman who was somewhat frightened of a possible injury for her unborn child, which fortunately turned out to be an unnecessary fear.

    By the way: Germany and the States have about the same number of injured people per 100 million vehicle kilometres. (81 in Germany, 74 in the states, making us number 29 and 30 on the list, respectively. The UK have 94 (number 25), Japan 149 (number 14), India 333 (number 6) [1]).

    And, hell yes, passing on the right is one of the worst offences. You don't want to find out some idiot has just decided to pass you on your right (i.e. the middle lane) when you're scrambling of the fast lane because some other idiot in a BMW is shooting up to you from behind at 140 mph. On the other hand, people who drive on the fast lane nearly always drive (much) faster than the cars on the middle lane, so there's no need to overtake them anyway.

    [1] source: 'The Economist' Pocket World in Figures 2005
  • Re:Hang on... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by somersault (912633) on Monday December 05, 2005 @09:17AM (#14184127) Homepage Journal
    that is just plain stupid in a situation where you are stuck behind someone that is doing 10mph below the limit, but you will need to go a little over the limit to overtake safely if the road is windy without many straights. I can happily do 60mph round most corners on country roads, with the speed limit being 60. I get really pissed off at idiots who do 70 on straights and then 40 on corners, or people who do 50mph in a 60mph zone, but then carry on at 50 through a 40mph zone. All very strange. My driving instructor said that 10% of the speed limit is allowed in overtaking (while we were on a 70mph Dual Carriageway), though I've never seen that written down anywhere (and this is in the UK)

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