Tag: Automobiles

Tormenta, Velox Currus et Vinum

I’ve probably bungled the latin up there, which comes from Google Translate. But it should mean “Guns, Fast Cars and Alcohol”. Somewhere, my high school Latin teacher, just fainted.

It comes from this on Twitter last night:

If any of you are of an artistic bent, I will post any version of our national seal that meets those requirements.

The tweet itself was based on this, sent to me by Harley:

All cars could be fitted with devices that stop them going over 70mph, under new EU road safety measures which aim to cut deaths from road accidents by a third.

Stop right there. This, you may remember, was the one of the justifications for our own national speed limit of 55. The supporters claimed it would save, conservatively, four hundred million lives a year. In fact, fatalities dropped a few thousand after it was implemented but regressed back to the mean by 1978. Since 1978, they have been in a free-fall, declining 50% despite the repeal of the national speed limit. The main reasons? Improving technology and tougher laws against drunk driving. (More on this at my own blog here). So any claim that this will cut deaths by a third is almost certainly bullshit.

(Moreover, I can imagine many situations where speed limiters would actually create greater danger. I — and probably every other driver in America — has encountered situations where I had to speed to avoid a danger, such as getting boxed into a slow car or passing a car that was in my blind spot before the lane ended. I guarantee you that an automated speed limiter will kill people. Whether it kills more than it saves is questionable. But always remember that air bags — which have saved lives — have also killed some people who would have otherwise lived. The balance of lives is in favor of airbags. It’s unclear on speed limits. And it’s really unclear on cars that literally can’t speed, even assuming the tech works as advertised.)

The report is from anonymous sources in the UK papers, so it’s not clear how real the threat is. And to be fair, the officials who will go on the record are opposing it on Big Brother grounds. So this is unlikely to happen anytime soon, even if it really is on some EU idiot’s radar.

But I have little doubt that there are many politicians — Mike Bloomberg leaps to mind — who would love to do this. They’ll cite safety, even though there’s no evidence of any safety gains. They’ll cite global warming, even though the fuel efficiency losses at high speed are smaller than you’d get just by buying a more fuel-efficient car.

But the real reason, as Burge indicates, is because they just don’t like people. They don’t like people unbound by rules and regulations. They don’t like people making their own decisions. They don’t like people determining their own destinies. No technological advance has been more emblematic of freedom and self-determination than the automobile. I can get in my car and literally go anywhere without anyone’s permission or sanction (at least until my wife gets home). Nanny Staters hate that, hence their enthusiasm for mass-transit boondoggles like light rail and street cars and hence, assuming the technology comes around, their inevitable enthusiasm for speed-limited cars.