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Britain to Pilot GPS Speed Governors 832

Posted by Zonk
from the not-so-fast dept.
Rich0 writes "In a new twist on traffic speed enforcement, The Times is reporting that Britain is piloting a new device which will use GPS to actively prevent speeding. The device will initially be offered in conjunction with discounts to the London congestion surcharge." From the article: "A study commissioned by London's transport planners has recommended that motorists who install it should be rewarded with a discount on the congestion charge, which tomorrow rises to £8 a day. The trial Skodas were fitted with a black box containing a digital map identifying the speed limits of every stretch of road in Leeds. A satellite positioning system tracked the cars' locations. "
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Britain to Pilot GPS Speed Governors

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Seems pretty obvious.
  • Skodas! (Score:5, Funny)

    by kaleco (801384) <greig@marshall2.btinternet@com> on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:47PM (#12975644)
    In response to the earlier Slashdot article which argues that innovation has slowed down...there is now a risk of Skodas exceeding the speed limit. I'd call that progress.
    • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @07:00PM (#12975728)
      This joke may need to be explained [wikipedia.org] to us Yanks. ;)

    • by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Monday July 04, 2005 @02:38AM (#12977823) Homepage
      Do you know the difference between a Skoda and Jehovas Witnesses?

      If you try really, really hard you can close the door on Jehovas Witnesses.

  • by ravenspear (756059) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:49PM (#12975655)
    What if for some reason you need to get somewhere in a hurry? I know I wouldn't give a shit about speed limits in such a situation, especially since no one obeys them anyway.

    Maybe it's different in Britain though. I imagine there is less road there.
    • If your not thinking straight because you are in an emergency perhaps you have more reason to stay under the speed limit.
    • by rkww (675767)
      According to the UK Department for Transport [dft.gov.uk] there were 392,321 kilometers (that's about 250,000 miles) of road in Great Britain in 2003.
    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @07:29PM (#12975926) Journal
      What I would give a shit about is the implications for the insurance companies to rip you off even worse than they already do. As an American you probably don't know how bad it already is - for me (a 17 year old male) to be insured on a basic, old car (say a VW bug) would cost somewhere between $2300 and $3500 (converted to US$ for your convenience). If they're mining all this data about exactly how and where I travel, they'll do anything in their power to declare me unsafe and raise my premiums. If I refuse to have a GPS tracker they'll assume I have something to hide and stick a statutory (and massive) penalty on me.
  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:51PM (#12975665) Homepage
    in police cars.

    I can't even begin to count the number of times I've seen police in the US get away with speeding because they're the police. For some reason, I can't imagine it being much different elsewhere around the world since government corruption doesn't know geographic boundaries.

    They'll come up with excuses like people trying to track law enforcement or something like that and that's why they won't be on the grid.
    • I agree.

      Almost every time I see a police car (even with their lights off) they are almost always going faster than the majority of the traffic who themselves are going more than the speed limit.
    • by d3ik (798966) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:57PM (#12975708)
      Yeah, and those damn fire engines always seem to be speeding too! Some people are such sheep they even pull over to the side of the road when they come barreling through! Imagine the nerve of those drivers... I can't do that even when I'm late to work! I swear, it's a conspiracy or something. Why are emergency workers special?
      • Firemen don't drive their fire trucks around all day. Police here in Ontario are constantly passing people on the highways and even smaller roads where the speed limit is 80KM/hr. Most people do about 100KM/hr on the 80 roads and the cops still pass people without their lights on.
      • Emergency workers driving to an actual emergency, announcing their presence with lights and sirens have cause to drive quickly. A police car on non-emergency business without it's lights or it's siren going has no business blowing down the left lane at 90.
    • They *have* to speed. Ever seen what happens when a cop car ends up in freeway traffic? Nobody has the balls to pass them, even if they're going less than the speed limit.

    • This is all just a big vodafone subsidy anyway. The government can't tax and subsidise them, so it will just introduce a compulsory "purchase the black box" law after the preordaned "success" of this trial. Ensures Britain stays a major player in the mobile communcations industry by indulging in blatant communism.
    • Not in the UK (Score:5, Informative)

      by James Youngman (3732) <jay AT gnu DOT org> on Sunday July 03, 2005 @07:40PM (#12975994) Homepage
      This hardly ever happens, if at all, in the UK. Most police cars on motorways travel at a significant amount (>5mph) below the speed limit. This allows other drivers to overtake them so that the police car doesn't cause congestion on the motorway - since people won't overtake a police car if they have to speed to do it. Once they're safely beyond the police car, they can speed up a bit. The police obviously know this. It's a sensible policy on the police's part.

      As for being above the law, my cousin is a police officer. Her boss (also a police officer, obviously) was disciplined for speeding in a police car. The boss is the assistant chief constable of that police force. There must be only about 30 officers of that seniority in the whole of the UK, so it's probably safe to say that the British police are not above the law [bbc.co.uk].

      On the other side of this coin, a couple of weeks ago there was a newsworthy court case where a British police officer was prosecuted for speeding [bbc.co.uk], and the court let him off, basically on the grounds that he needed to do what he did.

    • Further to your point, accidents involving police cars rose by 60% last year in the UK. The police should get these GPS if anyone does.

  • by dfsiii (895495) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:51PM (#12975671)
    Anyone think of the instances where going above the speed limit is necessary - traffic issues, defensive driving, emergencies? This program seems like it would put more hassle than anything. If you are in a hurry, you shouldn't speed (that is right) - but if there is an emergency, or if you are avoiding a traffic accident, going above the speed limit is basically celebrated. I think more thought should be put into this program first before they force these sort of regulations without any exceptions.

    Plus, everyone's seen school buses with their regulators, going 60mph on the highway. No one wants to be like them/

    • I hear this argument a lot, but it's a non-issue, at least with the system tested where I live [isa.vv.se]. The ISA project uses an active gas pedal, where it's easy to press it to the floor when you're below the speed limit, but which gets a higher resistance when you're at the limit. If you need to go faster for any reason, you just have to push harder at the pedal. Completely intuitive, and no buttons to press. The system just makes it "easy" to drive at the speed limit, and "harder" to break it.
  • So jam the signal. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by benst (531969) *
    So what will happen if your GPS doesn't work? Maybe someone uses one of the commercially available GPS jammers, or homemade ones: http://www.phrack.org/show.php?p=60&a=13 [phrack.org]
    Will they not give you the congestion charge discount? Will they slow down the car until the GPS signal is re-acquired?
  • Tampering... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Krankheit (830769) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:52PM (#12975676)
    Who says the GPS device needs to be going the same speed as my car? How are they going to ensure that I didn't leave my GPS device in my garage while I take out my minivan for a street race? I predict that later GPS will replace human police in the seeking of speed limit violators. Go too fast, and the GPS connects to a violation reporting server and uploads your tracking number and the type of violation (exceeding speed limit for area, failing to stop at a stop light, etc.) Of course, I am sure there will be ways to crack it, but what if insurance companies start using GPS data to calculate your risk factor based on where you park your car (in front of a pub, at Wal-Mart). Don't take me too seriously though, I have a tin foil cap embedded in my skull. ;-)
  • nazi police state (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    still think you're free? fear fear fear, they'll whack you over the head with it over and over, give away your power, let the state protect you, it's children. the prison without walls is still a prison. sheep, slaves, call it whatever. this is bullshit, and the sad thing is that people will probably take it lying down. back to sleep sheep, we'll install more televisions and strobe lights and what-not to keep you entranced... oh look tom cruise, football. wakeup ppz
  • This could cause a lot of deadly accidents if it kicks in when you're trying to quickly move out of the way of an oncoming vehicle or you're passing someone. I hope whoever came up with it is personally liable for any wrongful death cases.

    Anyone else find it funny they're considering offering a discount on a fee they just happen to be raising? Why can't they be honest and admit it's a fee not to use this.
  • by X43B (577258) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:53PM (#12975686) Journal
    If you thought congestion was bad before, what if it accidnetly limits you to 40kph in a 100kph zone?
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:55PM (#12975697) Journal
    What does one have to do with the other? Anyone who can speed in Central London during congestion charge is pretty fortunate.

    I really don't like this sort of thing. can we lose the attitude that driving past the speed limit is the be all and end all of road safety. There is never a speed at which driving abruptly changes from "safe" to "dangerous".
    • There is never a speed at which driving abruptly changes from "safe" to "dangerous"

      There's never an age where a child suddenly becomes an adult either... does that mean we should eliminate statutory rape laws, let 10-year-olds drive, and let cigarrette companies sell to grade-schoolers?

      Laws are about reasonable compromise; there are always cases where the line seems wrong, but overall you just have to pick a reasonably good place. Likewise, something doesn't have to be the "be-all end-all of road saf

  • Up next... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bloater (12932) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @06:59PM (#12975721) Homepage Journal
    A report on a driver convicted for doing 30 in an adjacent 20mph zone due to the resolution of GPS being reduced with the outbreak of another war. A police spokesperson said "GPS, like biometric ID, is known to be infallible - that's why we use them to catch the terrorists and prostitute traffickers." The driver is due to be sentenced next week.
  • The same thing has been tested elsewhere in pilot studies. One of the largest trials is the project "ISA - Intelligent Speed Adaptation", partly run by Lund University.
    More info at http://www.tft.lth.se/research/ISA.htm [tft.lth.se]
    From the page:
    "Research and development on the concept of Intelligent Speed Adaptation is going on both regarding speed limits and dynamically changing limits due to the prevailing conditions (e.g. adverse road-, or weather conditions). The system investigated is based on the Active accel
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @07:05PM (#12975768) Homepage
    We'll all be going much more slowly once all the oil runs out. Those of us who haven't starved to death in the ensuing famine and political upheavals.

    Bitching about intrusive government limiting the speed of your luxury vehicle will seem utterly petty by around 2015-2020.

    And besides, they invent a device called a "governor" and then expect the government NOT to put it on every vehicle? Who couldn't see this coming??
  • In Soviet Russia you govern GPS.
  • So rich Londoners can speed if they want. It's not that different from the untracked version, where rich speeders can just pay the fine. Although in New York, buying back a license after scoring lots of "moving violation" points can be expensive, not to mention the increased insurance rates. But, if you've got the money, you can drive as fast as you want.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @07:18PM (#12975860)
    ...is that it will finally, once and for all, prove that speeding doesn't have much effect on traffic safety. They've got speed cameras. They're writing a HUGE number of speeding tickets. And yet...traffic deaths in Britain went UP! Not down! UP!

    Folks- speed doesn't kill, and this is something few people (especially the "won't someone please think of the children" types) fail to understand. They point to statistics where "police site speed was a factor". It's not the speeding itself- it is usually a lack of judgement (very often obliterated by drugs, including alcohol) or experience, or going too fast for conditions. It is compounded by a driving public that has, for the most part, absolutely no idea (much less experience) at controlling a vehicle near its limits, or regaining control of an out-of-control vehicle.

    An example- a high school kid in my town got a Mistubishi Eclipse when he passed his driving test. Two friends in the car, he's doing sixty down a local road. That's pretty damn fast, and yes, too fast for a country road with limited visibility. How did he crash? His friend at the last second yelled "turn here!", and the guy tried to do a 90 degree turn. At 60mph. Instead of just keeping on the road. Speed didn't cause the crash- stupidity and lack of experience with what the car was (and was NOT) capable of did. A huge number of accidents are caused by people being very reactionary, like risking taking a short space to turn, instead of waiting 5-10 seconds for a much longer one.

    It is similar to the lack of distinction between "accidents" and "collisions". If an asteroid hits your car and you crash, that's an accident. Pretty much everything else is driver error.

    Most people don't have the foggiest idea of how to control their vehicle. The simplest concepts, such as weight transfer, basic cornering technique, or friction circles (which describe the capabilities of a tire) - aren't taught or tested at all. Most people also have a "I put gas in it and oil, that's all I should have to do" mindset to car maintenance. When I'm talking to someone about car maintenance and I ask how old their brake fluid is, they a)can't remember and b)ask why. Brake fluid is like a dessicant- it absorbs water from the atmosphere. When it does, its boiling point drops substantially (brake fluid should be changed at a minimum of every 2 years, and that means flushing, not just siphoning out the reservoir).

    Improving driver education would be a huge step in the right direction. Teach people what maintenance is required typically, and teach them HOW TO CONTROL a vehicle!

  • by axonal (732578) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @07:23PM (#12975887)
    Passing another vehicle on the road is perfect example. You have to accelerate to pass the car that is in front of you. A legal move.

    A car that decides to cross a road at a moment you are going through that road. In certain circumstances, the car could t-bone into you if the driver "assumes" you will continue to go faster. To avoid this, you speed up to miss him from hitting you from the side.

    While probably very rare, if you are at a railroad crossing with about four tracks, and the speed limit there is 15 (I've seen areas with 5-10MPH signs near train tracks) and the gates start closing in on you, you can't accelerate to get out.

    One time, a police officer sort of gave me "permission" to speed. It was an area where the highway forked, and traffic on the right side was at a standstill, and I was the only one of the left. Over the PA he gave me a "go ahead" to go faster than so he could get through to the other fork. There was no shoulder for me to turn off onto, so this was the only option of him to get by.

    I'm sure there are a lot more examples where speeding is necessary on the road. Its the careless speeding that needs to be enforced. People that go 100+ on a highway of average 65-70 MPH drivers.

    What the device should do, is somehow gather the average speed of cars in the area, and limit speed to the average so there are no careless speeders.
  • Make this optional (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ingolfke (515826) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @07:58PM (#12976098) Journal
    If the pilot proves that the technology works they should make these devices totally optional, but not actually have them govern the speed at all. Instead they should reward drivers for not exceeding the speed limit. So if you don't exceed the speed limit for the month you get your £8/day and if you do you get zip... or maybe make the payout on a weekly/daily basis. Anyways, with this option more people would sign up and maybe you'd end up having a greater net effect on speeding.
  • Problems I See (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dlevitan (132062) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @08:42PM (#12976358)
    The one major problem with this that I see is that it actively slows you down. What happens if I need to go faster due to road conditions? What if going slower is actually less safe? What if I'm passing an 18-wheeler in the left lane, and suddenly he starts moving into my lane? With this system I don't have the option of accelerating to the speed I need to avoid the collision. Granted, the article did say that there's a hazard button on it. But frankly, if I'm in that kind of situation, I don't want to think about 20 different buttons to press. I just want to step on the accelerator and go 70 mph instead of 60 mph.
    If you really want to stop speeding, increase the speed limit to say 90 mph on major highways, maybe 70 or 80 on minor ones. Basically, as fast as any reasonable person would attempt to travel on those roads. Personally, I wouldn't go 90 mph on any road unless it was basically straight and I had a good car. And I wouldn't break the 90 mph speed limit. Then, instead of having the police hide out with their radar guns, get them to find the people who are interfering with traffic and making problems.
    Every time I see a police car, I hit the breaks automatically. Even if I'm going the speed limit. It's just a natural reaction now. That causes the car behind me to hit the breaks, and every car behind that one. This creates a hazard. If I didn't have to worry about the police, and the police stopped people who drive aggressively instead of people who stay in one lane and just go 70 instead of 60, you wouldn't have this kind of situation anymore. Also, they'd need to stop the idiots who go slower in the left lane than those the right lane is moving. But in general, instead of causing accidents they'd prevent them.
    With regards to the argument made by those who appose this idea - that foolish drivers will abuse this trust - that's what the police are there for. Instead of stopping people who are just driving at their comfortable speed, they can be stopping idiots who aren't paying attention to the road or don't know how to drive well.
  • by cootuk (847498) on Sunday July 03, 2005 @09:03PM (#12976462)
    The carrot is that having the GPS speed limiter will reduce the (recently raised) congestion charge in London. The stick is that the UK government is hell bent on introducing pay-per-mile road travel. Introducing this technology under the guise of maintaining proper speed limits allows the charging system to be implemented by default simply by adding a mobile phone to the black box. If everyone had a black box and kept to the speed limit, then speed cameras would become irrelevant - therefore no revenue - therefore a new revenue has to be found - therefore pricing roads per mile.
  • by cheros (223479) on Monday July 04, 2005 @02:35AM (#12977805)
    The fine is not the biggest part of the profit made by Governments. Insurance companies *LOVE* speeding fines because it allows them to charge you more for what is principally not an increased risk (your rate of accidents is actually a more reliable indicator).

    Who wins? The insurance company as well as the government because a part of that increase is tax.

    That's why speeding fines and abuse of the system is here to stay.

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