Hmm, I can't decide if TekkenKinkreet
above is intended to be satirical
not. However one thing I'm sure of is that despite the generous
offer to donate the
to whomsoever for free, he/she couldn't patent
it even if they wanted to.
Why not? Because the idea has been not only previously thought of
, but seriously
suggested. At this, point I shall insert a quote
from the BBC
Dateline January 4, 2000:
An electronic speed regulator which
uses satellite signals to stop cars
breaking limits could soon become
compulsory in British vehicles.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is
considering research into new
technological advances as part of a
package of measures which could see
the controversial devices fitted to
all cars within the next few years.
Since that article was written the Government has fortunately (in my opinion) scaled
back its plans for this kind of technology, although it's still very much still on the
drawing board. I have three primary objections to the idea.
(1) Ethical. To work effectively this would require not only a speed limiter
device in the car, but a satellite to monitor exactly what speed the car was travelling at
so as to activate it if necessary. By immediate extension the satellite program would
also be aware of exactly where every car was at any one time. Britain is already
the most closely-watched society in the world; we have more closed circuit television
cameras per head of population than anywhere else in the world. If the government or its agencies have the ability to
track the movement of every vehicle in the country, I am fairly sure they would use it, either covertly or openly.
(2) Safety: The Government, in conjunction with road safety organisations
are determined to reduce the number of deaths on the roads. Whilst this is a worthy aim
and one with which almost everyone would agree, I have a serious disagreement
with their main method. They use the slogan "Speed Kills", arguing that the faster you
travel the more likely you are to kill someone. This is not true: a "safe" speed depends
on a huge number of factors. I can drive past a primary school at 3:30 in the
afternoon at 30 mph and I would be completely legal in doing so, although it
would be very dangerous. Yet if I were to drive at 100 mph along a deserted
motorway at 3:30 am, I would not only be breaking the law but could even lose my
driving licence. Speed doesn't kill, inappropriate speed kills.
(3) Vehicle Control: I ride a motorcycle daily. It's undoubtedly a far more
dangerous method of travel than a car, so I do all I can to minimise that risk. I
wear protective clothing, I try to remain fully observant, but I also know that I'm
riding a machine capable of acceleration way faster than anything a car can do. On
more than one occasion I've had to open the throttle and just accelerate as fast as
I can to get myself away from a potentially lethal situation. For those 2-3 seconds I
may have accelerated to something approaching twice the speed limit. It's illegal, but
I'm convinced it saved my life. If a satellite-controlled computer had forced a
speed limiting device to kick in during those sort of manoeuvres the outcome might
have been very different.
This is why I am not in favour of passive devices to control vehicles. Far better would be
a system of improved and ongoing driver education and re-tests.
Education, not compulsion.