On July 6th, the European Union formally introduced laws that require auto manufacturers to install speed-limiting hardware on new vehicles. While speed governors have been around for years (and are becoming increasingly popular among certain manufacturers) the EU’s new rules actually require technology that takes things a step further by allowing cars to actively detect and then regulate the speed for any given road.
The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is confirming what local agencies have already been suggesting. Last year represented another sizable increase in U.S. roadway fatalities, pitching up by 10.5 percent over the elevated death rate witnessed in 2020. The agency has estimated that 42,915 people were killed in 2021, whereas 2020 resulted in 38,824 fatalities — a 7.1-percent increase over the declines seen in 2019. While the current situation is not nearly as bad as the rates witnessed during the 1970s, this still represents the highest per capita fatalities in sixteen years and everyone is trying to get a handle on why.
Traffic deaths have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, confusing everyone who counts crashes because the supporting data also shows that there was a lot less driving being done during the period. Historically, years where people are disinclined from hitting the road due to a beleaguered economy tend to represent far fewer traffic-related fatalities. We can see this happening in 1942 when the U.S. braced itself to enter World War II by rationing everything from fuel to rubber. Another glaring example takes place in 1932, as the nation reached the darkest point in the Great Depression. In fact, there are very few examples of per capita improvements in on-road deaths from the pre-war period, and those that do exist coincide directly with economic recession.
At the start of the year, the city of Chicago announced that it would be changing rules pertaining to traffic enforcement as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s updated 2021 budget package. But the one that was causing the most concern among motorists was a provision to have speed cameras issue tickets to anybody traveling 6 miles an hour over the posted limit, rather than the previous cutoff of 10 MPH. While just a singular aspect of the city’s plan to resolve a $1.2-billion deficit, it turned out to be one of the most controversial items and appears to have resulted in a tenfold increase in fines.
According to local affiliate CBS Chicago, data from a public records request indicated that during the 36-day period before and after the change took effect on March 1st, citywide ticketing went up from 35,784 citations in the weeks before to a massive 398,233 in the proceeding weeks.
Ten Porsche drivers with leaden feet were stopped for doubling the speed limit in Gilpin County, Colorado, and one may have been a press-fleet car.
Or at least, had manufacturer tags.
According to a police officer quoted in The Denver Post, one of the vehicles stopped was being used as a pace car.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, there has been a lot of pressure to de-fund the police this year following the highly publicized death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The city became the epicenter of violent and peaceful protests demanding police departments be stripped of funding that has since spread across the rest of the United States. Some cities, including Minneapolis, have already agreed to cut their budgets or abolish departments entirely.
While most of the ramifications of these decisions would be off-topic for this particular forum, a study came out this week examining how on-road policing has been impacted. Unsurprisingly, the number of traffic stops in Minneapolis has declined immensely. Since May 25th, Bloomberg’s CityLab estimated the department had made 80 percent fewer stops each week.
This past weekend I had an encounter with the police.
No, I wasn’t protesting the death of George Floyd. Instead, I was approximately 25 miles away from the area in Chicago where protests occurred, sitting in a Mercedes-AMG, surgical mask on, while a very polite police officer (also masked) wrote me up for violating the speed limit.
I’d gone to my favorite back road – Chicagoans, especially North Shore residents, know well the ravine along Sheridan Road – to test this AMG. I’d be heading home with some unexpected paperwork.
A finely tuned German road machine is always seeking to influence its driver. Prodding the individual to let down their defenses, throw caution to the wind, and open ‘er up.
Make any road your Autobahn. Feel alive, if only for once in your pathetic, stinking life, the German car whispers…
And yet, despite the supercar-fighting prowess instilled into many Mercedes-AMG products, you can’t blame the car or the manufacturer once Johnny Law catches up to you. Especially when you’re a teenager clocked going 191 mph in dad’s C63.
It’s hard to peruse local headlines these days without stumbling across a post or two detailing recent speeding infractions, with the ticketed drivers apparently taking advantage of traffic-free roads and bargain basement gas to see what dad’s Accord can really do.
It makes sense that some drivers would see a pandemic as an opportunity. Generally, vastly fewer vehicles on the roads leads to fewer deaths on those roads, but that’s definitely not true everywhere.
Earlier this month, two GM engineers were arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky for illegally street racing the new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette. Three Stingrays were present, but only two of the men were caught breaking the law. Kentucky State Police stopped Alexander Thim and Mark Derkatz on January 8th, on Lovers Lane in Bowling Green, for exceeding the road’s 45-mph speed limit.
Thim was busted doing 120 mph while Derkatz settled on a nice, round 100 mph, according to local outlet WNKY. However, even 26 mph over the limit would be enough to haul them into custody and set court dates that could end in a suspended license. It seems the two men were also fired from General Motors for hooning the mid-engined C8 before the general public was provided the opportunity.
The UK’s Derbyshire Constabulary celebrated a major victory this week. The triumph of justice was even given its own official announcement. Did the department finally tamp down the area’s rising violent crime rate?
Nope. They caught an automotive journalist speeding — one year after he did it.
Joe Achilles was testing an Audi R8 RSW on the A57 Snake Pass last November, later posting footage on his Facebook wall. Derbyshire Constabulary’s Roads Policing Unit noticed the video while “investigating an entirely different matter,” according to its release, and set out to prove just how fast he was going.
This seems like a silly public service announcement to have to make, but it’s imprudent to post videos of yourself breaking traffic laws. Beau Alan Rogel of Rankin County, Mississippi found that out the hard way after live streaming his attempt to break 180 mph in his wife’s 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350.
In the midst of his feat, a viewer decided to contact police and notify them that Rogel was traveling at excessive speeds, helpfully mentioning where he could be found. The video, which he reposted on YouTube, includes the moment where he is pulled over and (understandably) denies everything he had just been explaining to his audience.
You’ve probably received a speeding ticket in the mail before. Weeks after the incident, once you’ve forgotten all about it, you open a letter to read that you’ve been busted by a cleverly placed speed camera and have to pay a fine. Well, that’s what happened to a Belgian driver but he was fined approximately $7,800 for traveling 432 mph in a 30-mph zone.
Obviously, something went wrong. In addition to the 400-mph mark being well out of reach of his Opel Astra, the speed isn’t in the realm of possibilities for any production car currently in existence. Hell, Top Fuel dragsters don’t even reach those speeds on level pavement. In fact, you’d have to purchase a private jet or build a custom land speed car for Bonneville if you wanted that kind of velocity.
Indiana State Police proudly announced the capture of a speed demon who was ripping down the highway at over twice the legal limit. The diver, 38-year old J. Jesus Duran Sandoval, was allegedly trying to break the sound barrier on the Indiana Toll Road Tuesday evening when he hurtled past an officer at an extremely high rate of speed.
State Trooper Dustin Eggert, who was merging back into traffic after helping a broken down motorist near the 45 mile marker, took chase but found the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat difficult to keep up with. At one point he found himself driving 150 miles an hour, noting that the vehicle he was pursuing continued to pull away as he radioed for backup.
Most of us have been caught speeding at one time or another. As enthusiasts, it’s often difficult not to try and squeeze out every last ounce of joy from a fun-to-drive automobile when the path ahead is open. While we may think of corporate executives as soulless monsters, singularly focused on satisfying shareholders and lining their pockets, some of them are also people who enjoy driving cars.
Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales is definitely such a man, and his love of driving ended up getting him into trouble when he was nailed for traveling 102 mph in a 70 mph zone on England’s A11 expressway. While the offense occurred roughly a year ago, his court date was yesterday. With eight points already on his license (most of which also came from speeding violations), things looked bleak for Gales, at least until his lawyer managed the most brilliant defense in traffic court history — claiming that it was vital the CEO not lose the ability to test drive new models.
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