QOTD: Are You Willing to Let the Government Ride Shotgun?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd are you willing to let the government ride shotgun

It already does, in a sense, but you’re only punished for exceeding a posted speed limit if the long arm of the law catches you in the act.

Flashing lights in the rear-view or a photo radar ticket in the mailbox can ruin our day, but the relative absence of cops and cameras on most roadways means most of us can still “make good time” on our journeys. However, with pedestrian fatalities on the rise (and governments across the country looking for easy fixes), some lawmakers might find inspiration from Europe.

Just the other day, Ronnie told us of the decision by European Parliament to mandate speed limiters on all cars. Are you willing to drive Miss Daisy, all the time, to help your fellow man?

Depending on how negotiations shake out, within three years European drivers could find the government sitting rigidly in the passenger seat, berating their every move.

From Ronnie’s piece:

The speed limiters, which go by the euphemism Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), use GPS data and possibly traffic sign recognition to determine a road’s speed limit and then limit engine power to match that speed. While it’s possible to just press harder on the accelerator and go faster, if the car exceeds the speed limit for several seconds, an audible warning signal will sound, along with a visual warning displayed until speed is reduced to the legal limit.

Ever driven that first block without your seatbelt on? Those warnings get annoying in a hurry. It’s possible that some crafty European drivers will find a way to disable the warning, but what if that becomes another offense? What if law enforcement, your local government, and your insurance provider are made aware of speed violations and speed limiter tampering as a way of enforcing proper use? It’s not too wild a thought.

In the pursuit of safety (still a worthwhile goal, don’t get us wrong), many advocates are willing to tout dystopian solutions, and many lawmakers are just as willing to sign on. In Europe, especially. It’s no wonder Black Mirror is a UK program — just look how the country responded to Ford’s Mustang ads.

Here in North America, countless cities have already lowered default speed limits, only to entertain calls for further lowerings. 25 mph, then 20 mph … then what? The heat will soon be on to find a better solution, and the focus of advocates and lawmakers could fall on the vehicle itself.

Is this European experiment a future you’re willing to accept, or is it a step too far?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Charliej Charliej on Mar 02, 2019

    I live in a small town in Mexico. The speed limit on the highway through town is 24 mph. That equates to 40 kmph. The speed limit on streets away from the highway are limited to 20 kmph or 12 miles per hour. No one seems to mind. The 40 kmph speed on the main road is seldom reached as the traffic is bumper to bumper for most of the day. We are 30 miles south of Guadalajara, a city of several million in it's metropolitan area. A number of people from Guadalajara come through town every day causing traffic jams with walking pace traffic. The back streets set at 12 mph are cobblestone and very rough so no one speeds there either. When I take the car going to the other side of town, two miles away, it takes forty minutes to drive it. I usually just jump on the motor scooter and go that way. Two miles in about seven minutes. Two wheels is the way to go in heavy traffic.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Mar 04, 2019

    I think if ANY laws are enacted, it should be to increase penalties for people not paying attention at the wheel and far better drivers training and adherence to the rules and etiquette.

  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).
  • Steve Biro It takes very clever or amusing content for me to sit through a video vehicle review. And most do not include that.Tim, you wrote :"Niche titles aren't dying because of a lack of interest from enthusiasts, but because of broader changes in the economics of media, at least in this author's opinion."You're right about the broader changes in economics. But the truth is that there IS a lack of interest from enthusiasts. Part of it is demographics. Young people coming up are generally not car and truck fans. That doesn't mean there are no young enthusiasts but the numbers are much smaller. And even those who consider themselves enthusiasts seem to have mixed feelings. Just take a look at Jalopnik.And then we come to the real problem: The vast majority of new vehicles coming out today are not interesting to enthusiasts, are not fun to drive and/or are just not affordable.You can argue that EVs are technically interesting and should create enthusiasm. But the truth is they are not fun to drive, don't work well enough yet for most people and are very expensive.EVs on the race track? Have you ever been to a Formula E race? Please.And even if we set EVs aside, the electronic nannies that are being forced on us pretty much preclude a satisfying driving experience in any brand-new vehicle, regardless of propulsion system. Sure, many consumers who view cars as transportation appliances may welcome this technology. But they are not enthusiasts. I don't know about you, but I and most car fans I know don't want smart phones on wheels.There is simply not that much of interest to write about. Car and Driver and Road & Track are dipping deeper into nostalgia and their archives as a result. R&T is big on sponsoring road trips for enthusiasts - which is a great idea. But only people with money to burn need apply.And then there is the problem of quality in automotive writing. As more experienced people are let go and more money is cut from publications, the quality and length of pieces keeps going down, leading to the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy.Even the output on this site is sharply reduced from its peak. And the number of responses to posts seems a small fraction of what it used to be. This is my first comment since the site was recently relaunched. I don't expect to be making many in the future.Frankly Tim - and it gives me no pleasure to write this - but your post makes me feel as though the people running this site have run out of ideas and TTAC's days may be numbered.Cutbacks in automotive journalism are upsetting. But, until there is something exciting and fun to write about, they are going to continue. Perhaps automotive enthusiasm really was a 20th century phenomenon..
  • THX1136 I think that the good ole interwebs is at least partially to blame. When folks can get content for free, what is the motivation to pay to read? I'm guilty of this big time. Gotta pay to read!? Forget it! I'll go somewhere else or do without. And since a majority of folks have that portable PC disguised as a phone in their pocket, no need for print. The amount of info easily available is the other factor the web brings to bear. It's perhaps harder now to stand out. Standing out is necessary to continued success.In an industry I've been interested (and participated) in, the one magazine (Mix) I subscribed to has become a shadow of it's former self (200 pgs now down to 75). I like print for the reasons mentioned by another earlier. I can 'access' it in a non-linear fashion and it's easily portable for me. (Don't own a smarty pants phone and don't plan to at the moment.)I would agree with others: useful comparison reviews, unique content not easily available other places, occasional ringers (Baruth, Sajeev, et al) - it would be attractive to me anyway. I enjoy Corey, Matt and Murilee and hope they continue to contribute here.
  • Daniel J I wish auto journos would do more comparisons. They do some but many are just from notes from a previous review compared to a new review. I see where journos go out to a location and test drive and review a vehicle on location but that does absolutely nothing for me without any comparison to similar cars. I also wish more journos spent more time on seat comfort. I guess that doesn't matter much when many journos seem to be smaller folks where comfort isn't as important. Ergonomics are usually just glossed over unless there is something very specific about the ergonomics that tick the journo off. I honestly get more from most youtube reviews than I ever do about reviews written on a page.