I offer this innovation free of charge to trustworthy state governments everywhere.

Many vehicles already sport GPS receivers. It would be a simple matter to program these to detect when a driver was exceding the speed limit. They indicate where you are, after all, and how fast you are going. All that is required is a slot in the dashboard next to the GPS for your credit card, and the penalty can be deducted from your account in real time! The money gathered could be used to subsidize the installation of such systems in all new cars.

The state troopers can then all put away their radar guns and go back to making the world safe for democracy, which they would all obviously prefer to be doing anyway.

More advanced vehicles could have their diagnostic systems wired, so that broken tail lights and the like could be penalized as well.

Suggested names for these cars:

The Chrysler Law Abiding Citizen

The Ford Conformist

The Chevy Piggy Bank

I can't wait for the future!

Hmm, I can't decide if TekkenKinkreet's writeup above is intended to be satirical or not. However one thing I'm sure of is that despite the generous offer to donate the idea 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 News website:

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.

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