[aprssig] Star Wars..
AA3JY at Winlink.org
AA3JY at Winlink.org
Wed Feb 1 10:38:50 CST 2006
Now..does this sound familiar..?
Star Wars Speed Trap
GPS being used to catch speeders
By ERIC PETERS
Like tearing off that sticker on mattresses that warns us not to
penalty of law," most of us don't pay much attention to speed limits.
Five to 10
over is the rule, not the exception -- as any survey of average
speeds will confirm. We vote with our right foot every time we get
wheel, countermanding the diktats of the local bureaucrats who erect
are frequently well below what large majorities (better than 85
you want an actual figure based on traffic surveys) consider
But what if driving faster than the posted limit became an
For years, this has been âThe Dreamâ of safety-badger types, who
deviance from often arbitrarily-set posted speed limits with mowing
small children in a gigantic SUV with really loud mufflers, one hand
wheel, the other clutching a half-empty fifth of Jack Daniels. They
mechanical governors (which never flew) and even managed, briefly, to
get a law
passed that required all new cars to be fitted with speedometers that
no faster than 85 mph.
Now, however, the technology exists for a great leap forward -- or
depending on your point of view.
The Canadians are testing out a system that combines onboard Global
Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology with a digital speed limit map.
It works very
much like the in-car GPS navigation systems which have become so
late model cars -- but with a twist. Instead of helping you find a
the system, prevents you from driving any faster than the posted speed
of the road you happen to be on.
As in a conventional GPS-equipped car or truck, the system knows which
you're on, as well as the direction you're traveling. This information
continuously updating as you move. But in addition to this, the system
acquires information about the posted speed limit on each road, as you
Once your vehicle reaches that limit, the car's computer makes it
difficult to go any faster.
Ten vehicles equipped with this technology are currently being tested
Ottowa area; if the trail is "successful," a wider series of tests is
planned. And it's a sure bet the entire thing will eventually be the
object of a
very strong-armed push aimed at making it mandatory equipment in every
"We are trying to assess the operational acceptance issues," says
Burns of Transport Canada's road safety directorate.
But is all of this really necessary -- or even a good idea?
For one thing, if current speed limits are so sensible, why do so many
disobey them routinely? Are large majorities of us simply indifferent
own safety and that of others -- even though we seem capable of
responsibly in other aspects of our lives?
Or are speed limits often set unrealistically low?
And if they are, wouldn't it make more sense to adjust them so that
reflect a more reasonable consensus -- based upon how we actually
rather than constantly pushing for new ways to compel compliance with
most of us clearly think are too low?
Bear in mind that for 20-plus years, we were relentlessly nagged by
self-styled "safety lobby" (and its profiteers in the insurance
industry) that to
exceed the sainted 55 mph limit was "dangerous speeding" that put
and others at risk. Yet when Congress finally repealed the 55 mph
'95 -- and most states raised their highway limits to 65, 70, even 75
some cases -- highway fatality rates did not increase as predicted. In
just two years after the majority of states increased their maximum
speed limits, the total national highway fatality rate reached an
record low of 1.64 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
This proved that driving 65 or 70-something mph on a highway was not
"unsafe." The big difference post-'95 was that you no longer had to
getting a ticket for doing it.
The same issue exists on many secondary roads, where under-posted
routinely ignored by most drivers -- but vigorously enforced by radar
Like the tickets issued to people under the double nickel, the use of
to nab motorists exceeding these under-posted limits is justified on
basis of "safety" -- even though most of us know that driving five or
faster doesn't in and of itself constitute unsafe driving any more
than doing 65
or 70-something mph did under the old 55 mph NMSL.
And sometimes, it's necessary to accelerate rapidly in order to avoid
accident -- even if it means momentarily exceeding the posted limit.
But Canada's little experiment could bring a screeching halt to all
literally. Dumbed-down limits -- and dumbed-down driving -- would
more than the law of the land.
They would become an inescapable way of life.
Some might welcome a world in which driving faster than whatever the
limit happens to be is impossibility. But it might be more
post realistic speed limits -- and deal with the handful of drivers
or can't drive reasonably -- than to treat every driver on the road
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