With more than a million road deaths every year it is time we had safety on our roads.
We know that speed is one of the major causes of accidents world-wide. Do we want to catch more speeding drivers, employ more police on our roads (10,000 police on Australian roads over the Easter break), or do we want to end the carnage, end the loss of life, end the maiming, end the sadness and the horrendous medical costs?
As a professional risk engineer (retired) and past Chairman of the Road Safety Sub-committee, IEA (Vic) Risk Branch I am trained in how best to minimize identified risks.
It’s Time For Speed Limiters On All Cars.
Last night a 53 year old woman was driving at night and turning right when she was hit by a man in a stolen car allegedly traveling at more that twice the speed limit. The woman died at the scene and the man ran off, evading police. In another incident resulting in the death of a career truck driver simply doing his job; his truck was hit by a vehicle traveling at 180kph in a 60kph zone. The truck driver had no time to react and his rig caught fire.
We continue to spend tax payers money on driver education, and it’s important … but it’s also misleading as education is very ineffective as a risk control measure, with results often in the 5 to 10% effectiveness range.
Then we have administrative controls, speed limits and responsible driving considerations but these are only slightly better, around 10 to 20% effective in eliminating the risk of accidents.
Engineered solutions are coming quickly in the form of autonomous vehicles, which according to Tesla Motors Chairman and CEO Elon Musk will save hundreds of thousands of lives a year.
It will take a decade or two (perhaps longer for the majority of cars on the road to be autonomous and a simple speed limiter that restricts all cars top speed to the particular speed limit for that area would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.
Many vehicles may already have some of the necessary technology installed via their GPS and road data or ‘maps’ systems.
“I have two indicators in my Land Cruiser… One that is built in with the Odometer and it just warns me whenever I am above 120 kmph… The other one is with the built in GPS navigation system. The Voice over from the GPS do tell me whenever I am overspeeding as per the preferences set in the GPS console.. I have set out to be +10 kmph over the legal speed limit of the street as allowed in the country.
So, while my Nav system is more aware of the speed limits of the street and knows exactly how fast I am going as per GPS data, it is able to tell me when I am overspeeding while the fixed one is factory configured to alarm me only whenever I exceed 120kmph.”
There are already ‘speedometer apps’ available that can detect the speed limits for the road you are traveling on and provide warnings when you are approaching the limits. Rather than warnings we need new technology that limits the vehicles’ speed and cannot be tampered with.
Would you be happy driving a vehicle that cannot speed in restricted areas? Leave comments below …