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Transportation Government News Technology

Australia, UK To Test Vehicle Speed-Limiting Devices 859

nemesisrocks writes "The New South Wales government is set to begin testing a device that will limit the speed of drivers because 'excessive speed is one of the primary ways that people are killed while driving.' Located on the dashboard, it senses a driver's speed with the use of GPS. If the speed of a car goes over the posted legal limit, a warning sounds. If the driver ignores the warning, the device eventually cuts all power to the car because a cut-off switch has been installed between the accelerator and the engine." The Times Online reports that the same system will be tested in the UK this summer for use in taxis and buses.
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Australia, UK To Test Vehicle Speed-Limiting Devices

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  • That's strange.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pvt_Ryan ( 1102363 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:22AM (#28025037)
    UK government official figures show speed is only the causing factor in 5-7% of all accidents.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:23AM (#28025045)
    If you read the article, you'll see that it limits the engine's available power so that it can no longer go over the limit. It doesn't cut off the engine, or for that matter the battery.
  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:27AM (#28025115)

    Don't HGVs (heavy goods vehicles, artics, trucks, whatever you call them) have speed limiters on them as it is? I think this is so in the UK and some of Europe? (90kph/ 56mph)

    Information welcomed.

  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:30AM (#28025147)
    Just for future reference, cutting the battery does not kill power; because there's an alternator generating all the electrical power the car (usually) needs. It will; however, play hobb with the electrical system because the battery acts, in effect, as a large filter and it helps to regulate the system voltage.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:30AM (#28025171)

    That's one of the reasons that the EU is starting its own GPS system; Galileo. As well as being able to give a much more accurate reading of speed than the US's GPS it will also give a much more accurate reading of location and allow the government to charge for using certain roads.

  • by Asic Eng ( 193332 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:33AM (#28025209)
    ... what could possibly go wrong?

    If implemented as described in the article: not much. With "cut power" they actually mean "limit power to reach only the maximum allowed speed" and you can override it if you wish. (Emergency transport to the hospital, speed limit out of date etc.)

  • Re:bad assumption (Score:3, Informative)

    by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:34AM (#28025211) Journal

    Speed can be a contributing cause to a crash. Higher speed reduces effective response time (or, if you wish, increases response distance), meaning a situation which could have been avoided (braking, evasive maneuvers) at a lower speed becomes unavoidable at a higher one. (Of course, arguing about causation can be pointless--after all, there could have been no crash at all if the drivers had chosen not to drive in the first place.)

    But true, speed's affect on a crash is to increase the total kinetic energy budget of all impacts involved.

  • Re:No Doubt (Score:3, Informative)

    by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:35AM (#28025235) Homepage

    "That removing this device would be illegal."

    So is speeding.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:39AM (#28025285)
    That would be why it doesn't cut the power unless you've been driving over the limit for a certain period of time. I don't know about you, but I've yet to use a GPS which put me on the wrong road for more than a few yards.
  • by Polkyb ( 732262 ) * on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:40AM (#28025303)
    "Transport for London (TfL), which will today announce a six-month trial of ISA, estimates that, if two thirds of London drivers used the devices, the number of road casualties in the capital could be reduced by 10 per cent." Most cars in London don't actually move fast enough to get to 20Mph, so how exactly would this system save lives? Most UK private cars have had their speedometer set 10% fast anyway (reads 33 when doing 30 and 77 when doing 70) in an effort to both slow you down and remove te vehicle manufacturer from any possible law suits regarding speeding fines.
  • by DavidChristopher ( 633902 ) * on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @10:44AM (#28025363)
    Because on some roads, the limit's 50. On others, it's 70. Some roads have 100kph limits. The idea is clear- gps will give you the speed limit of the road you're on (through a map lookup).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @11:18AM (#28025915)

    The system doesn't track anyone - it just uses GPS to match your position against its internal speed limit database.

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @11:22AM (#28025991) Journal

    Yeah, it does:

    "It actually talks to the computer which manages the engine, and it tells that computer to limit the available fuel to the engine so that it will not exceed a certain speed, whatever speed limit you're in," Dr Jobe said.

    (i love having to wait 5 minutes between posts)

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @11:25AM (#28026045) Journal

    That would be why it doesn't cut the power unless you've been driving over the limit for a certain period of time. I don't know about you, but I've yet to use a GPS which put me on the wrong road for more than a few yards.

    Try riding on a highway adjacent to a service road and parallel to a nearby ridge line. Depending on the satellite geometry and other terrain, you can end up getting a long-term incorrect reading that way, due to receiving the satellite signals reflected from the ridge line.

  • by twostix ( 1277166 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @11:38AM (#28026231)

    Semi-trailers here in Aus already have governers set to 100KPH.

    Drivers often drop them into neutral on the highway on downhills, they hit 140 no problems.

    There's also a thriving industry found in the back pages of trucking magazines dedicated to remov...err 'maintaining' them.

  • by cream wobbly ( 1102689 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @11:38AM (#28026237)

    Except the device won't respond by "killing the engine" -- it will reduce power, and you can push the button to override it. So it won't cause a "massive pileup".

    So aside from the lack of consequences as you imagine them, you're absolutely right.

  • by Tiger4 ( 840741 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @11:39AM (#28026239)

    In my quick perusal of the local Vehicle Code, I see there are about 4 - 6 different kinds of speeding violations. One of them is "driving too fast for conditions", which seems to be the only one people are concerned with as a practical matter. But there are others, like driving faster than the posted speed, faster than the state maximum, faster than the max for your kind of vehicle, faster than max for the kind of road you are on, etc.

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @11:45AM (#28026343)

    If you want to do something like this for commercial vehicles

    They already are. For decades, diesel trucks have had mechanical governors that can be adjusted (not in the cockpit.) For at least a decade, there have been dataloggers for fleets, some live...some memory-card based or short-distance radio (ie when you pull into the yard.) They record things like the driver bouncing off the engine rev limiter, engine speed, road speed, throttle, fuel consumption, etc.

    A friend bought a new cargo truck a couple of states over, and the PO neglected to mention that the governor had been set for 53mph. One of his drivers drove the truck back while he followed in his car, and they did 53mph for 6 hours straight on a highway where the limit was 65.

  • by Ghede ( 1521401 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @11:58AM (#28026597)
    http://www.physorg.com/news133455659.html [physorg.com]
    https://shop.sae.org/technical/papers/960439 [sae.org]

    Learn to google. Googling speed limits interstates accident rates got me the first one, and variations thereof, Adding -purdue got me the second. It would also have eventually produced contrary results if any existed. Of course, I'm not going to sit at google adding fifteen hundred -words just to reinforce or refute those articles. I don't even drive.
  • by JonathanBoyd ( 644397 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @12:28PM (#28027055) Homepage

    Learn to google.

    Learn to read. The findings were mixed and in cases where increasing the speed limit saved lives, it was as simple as 'ore speed is faster' but rather 'faster highways takes speeding drivers away from other roads where accidents are more likely'.

    "For example, one study found that a speed limit increase from 55 to 65 resulted in roughly a 3 percent increase in the accident rate and a 24 percent increase in the probability of a fatality once an accident occurred," Mannering said. "But then other studies have contended that legislation-enabled speed-limit increases have actually saved lives. One study argued that increasing from 55 to 65 saved lives because of shifts in law enforcement resources, the ability of higher speed limit interstates to attract riskier drivers away from inherently more dangerous non-interstate highways and reducing how often drivers speed up and slow down."

  • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @03:08PM (#28029503)
    No matter how hard you push the brakes it takes a while to avoid an accident when the car before you braked too hard and you're 30 mph over the limit.

    That's not a result of speed, it's a result of following too closely and probably not paying attention, which are both problems regardless how fast you're driving. If you're driving 30 mph faster, then there should be correspondingly greater space given to traffic around you to account for it.

    How do you think accident rates would drop if you actually forced anyone to drive no faster than 55 mph?

    I don't think they'd change appreciably. Sliding off the road sideways and hitting an oak tree at 55 mph will kill you just as effectively as it will at 80 mph. Limiting the speed to 55 mph will not change people's propensity to follow too closely or otherwise practice poor driving habits, and most definitely will not get people to pay closer attention to what's going on around them.
  • by _avs_007 ( 459738 ) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @05:34PM (#28031773)
    a) if you need to exceed the speed limit to overtake, then you don't need to overtake

    So if you are behind a triple-trailer that is going 5-10 under the limit, you want to try to pass the triple-trailer while only going 5mph faster? Good luck with that...

    This is why in places like WA, it is explicitly LEGAL to exceed the speed limit when passing on two lane roads. I for one like to minimize the amount of time I'm on the left side of the center line, cuz you never know who might poke out and make a right without looking both ways.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."