Lawmakers in four states this week advanced legislation that would, if passed, either place mild restrictions on or outright ban the use of automated ticketing machines by municipalities. The Florida state Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday voted 4 to 2 to approve an outright prohibition on the use of red light cameras — just one year after the legislature had given in to the lobbying effort of localities in authorizing their use. Senate Bill 672 must now clear the Senate Community Affairs Committee before being considered by the full Senate.
Texas is the last state in the nation that still imposes different speed limits on its highways depending on whether it is daytime or nighttime. Roads marked 70 MPH during the day can only be legally driven at 65 MPH when its dark. Big rig trucks must also obey specially lowered speed limits. The state House Transportation Committee yesterday filed a favorable report on legislation that would simplify the Lone Star State’s speed laws and boost the speed limit in most rural areas.
“A difference in vehicle speeds can contribute to accidents,” the House committee report explained. “HB 1353 seeks to minimize the number of accidents that can occur when cars and trucks change lanes or pass or tailgate slower-moving vehicles by removing the different, lower speed limit for heavy trucks.”
Police in Massachusetts may no longer stop a car merely because a laser jammer or aftermarket backup camera partially obscures the motto on a license plate. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals decided on March 2 that the state police had no business pulling over Patrick H. Miller simply because the phrase “Spirit of America” at the bottom of his plate was partially covered as he drove on Route 93 South in Stoneham on April 30, 2009.
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) announced Wednesday that it was expanding a system for lowering speed limits on the freeway, despite its own surveys showing the public has a “high level of dissatisfaction with the system.” A study conducted on behalf of MoDOT by the Missouri University of Science and Technology included a few positive statistics about the performance of Variable Speed Limits, but the overall conclusion was that the program failed to provide the promised benefits.
The Daily Mail reports
Motorway speed limits could rise to 80 mph to shorten journey times and boost the economy under a radical review of road safety, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond signalled today.
He is concerned that anti-car campaigners have for too long used ‘road safety’ as a convenient excuse to both stymie raising speed the limit on motorways from the current 70mph, and to push for more 20mph zones in urban areas – even when they are inappropriate.
Britain has some of the safest roads in Europe, and within that motorways are by far the safest.
In future, Mr Hammond will demand that safety alone cannot be the sole determining factor when changing limits and that a thorough cost-benefit analysis which takes into account the economic impact must also be carried out when deciding such matters.
Now, imagine that lede in the US media. Tough, innit?
It has been consistently found that the higher a vehicleʼs travel speed (even when driving at or under the legal limit), the greater the focus of the driver on their surroundings. The increased perception of danger triggers an increased endocrine reaction within the brain. This, in turn, forces the individual to play closer attention to objects in motion around the vehicle. Even relatively small changes in vehicle speed can result in substantial increases in spatial acuity and response time.
On the surface the report seems to be trading in truisms: after all, who would argue that higher speeds don’t trigger faster stimulus responses in drivers? But how does that apply to the real world of highway safety legislation and speed limits?
The Michigan state House of Representatives yesterday voted unanimously to repeal its so-called driver responsibility fee program, an unpopular tax on traffic citations. State Representative Bettie C. Scott (D-Detroit) was the primary sponsor of legislation that will end most of the fees by January 1, 2012 and, before then, cut the amount motorists owe by half.
“Obviously we must do what it takes to keep our roads safe for all travelers, but driver responsibility fees place an onerous and unnecessary financial burden on too many Michigan drivers,” Scott said in a statement. “The Driver Responsibility Act is flawed legislation that has failed the test of time. It has unfairly penalized our hard-working residents during one of the worst financial crises we’ve ever seen.”
Editor’s Note: The following was originally written by Jim Walker for the National Motorists Association blog, and has been republished with permission from the NMA.
I have worked closely with the Michigan State Police for several years in their pursuit of correcting as many Michigan posted speed limits to the correct 85th percentile speed level as possible. Yes, we have a very enlightened state police administration that wants to see posted limits set for safety, not revenue.
I have testified before Michigan legislative committees in support of the State Police to help explain the science involved, helped to nominate the key officers for a Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee Award which they won in 2006, and helped the police find areas of state trunk line routes (numbered highways) which should be re-surveyed because the posted limits were set far below the normal speeds of traffic.
And you thought it was over. You thought that, with Top Gear’s “Car Of The Decade” trophy accompanying Ferdinand Piëch’s “Ego Of The Decade” award in the Volkswagen trophy case, Bugatti could move on and let tiny companies based in sheds and garages fight over who has the world’s fastest “production” car. But no. That’s not how things work in Wolfsburg… er, Mollsheim.
Accelerating up the motorway slip road, the Ampera charges hard and deceptively quickly up to 50mph, but by then the single-speed electric motor’s flat torque curve has begun a nose dive and acceleration at high speeds is poor.
The 0-62mph time of 9 seconds and top speed of 100mph are an indication of this – most family hatchbacks with that sort of sprint capability will have a top speed of nearer 130mph
The Telegraph‘s Andrew English lays into the Chevy Volt/Opel Ampera’s high-speed acceleration, in an early test drive on European roads. Apparently an Opel engineer was embarassed enough by the performance to tell English that
We are considering driving the wheels directly from the petrol engine
Driving slowly is not a crime justifying a traffic stop, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled last Wednesday. In an unpublished decision, Judge Anderson reviewed the events leading up to the August 13, 2008 arrest of Tommy K. Miller. At around 1:19am that morning, Miller’s white Lexus SUV passed by Hartland Village Police Officer Matthew Harper who happened to be patrolling Cottonwood Avenue. Miller was traveling 5 MPH.
The Missouri state Senate on Monday voted overwhelmingly to ban the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. The measure’s champion, state Senator Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis), had failed in previous efforts to convince his colleagues to end the use of automated ticketing machines. This year, however, he was emboldened by the state supreme court’s decision last month to strike down Springfield’s photo ticketing as illegal (view opinion). Lembke successfully attached the red light camera prohibition to a broader, 106-page transportation measure that included a number of miscellaneous provisions. The vote was 23 to 8 in favor of the ban.