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  (Source: Wallpaper Den)
Bye bye autobahn

Europe has been known as the birthplace of some of the world's fastest cars with luxury-minded speed-demons from Italian brands like Volkswagen AG's (ETR:VOW) Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., German brands like Daimler AG's (ETR:DAI) Mercedes-Benz, or the UK's Bentley Motor Group Ltd. (also a Volkswagen property).  Indeed, perhaps no highway system is as famous as Germany's autobahns, where there is no enforced speed limit.

But all of that could soon be changing.

The European Union's Mobility and Transport Department -- a branch of the EU's market regulatory body, the European Commission (EC) -- is preparing an extreme proposal to counter auto fatalities in the region.  UK newspaper Telegraphcites the office of Patrick McLoughlin, the UK's Transport Secretary as warning of the controversial proposal.

EU speeding
The EU is looking to pull the plug on drivers travelling over 70 mph. [Image Source: Porsche]

Reportedly the EC approached Mr. McLoughlin with a pending proposal that sought to use an Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) scheme to prevent any new vehicles sold in the EU from going over 70 miles per hour.  The EC officials argued that the proposal was necessary to curb the over 30,000 drivers who die each year on Europe's streets.

But Mr. McLoughlin blasted the proposal; with a "government source" close his office commenting:

This has Big Brother written all over it and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people's backs up about Brussels.  The Commission wanted [Mr. McLoughin's] views ahead of plans to publish the proposals this autumn. He made it very clear what those views were.

An EC spokesperson confirmed that talks about new speed regulation are pending, remarking:

There is a currently consultation focusing on speed-limiting technology already fitted to HGVs and buses.  Taking account of the results, the Commission will publish in the autumn a document by its technical experts which will no doubt refer to ISA among many other things

Aside from the more basic free market and cost issues, another problem with the proposal arguably is the fact the EU member states vary greatly in traffic fatalities.  Out of Britain's thirty eight million motorists, there are only 1,754 fatalities in 2012 -- a 0.0046 percent death rate.  By contrast Germany's forty-five million motorists in 2012 got in 3,657 fatalities -- a 0.0081 percent death rate (almost twice as high).

This controversy may be laid to rest -- or further ignited -- when self-driving (autonomous or semi-autonomous) cars hit the market.  Google, Inc. (GOOG), General Motors Comp. (GM), and Nissan Motor Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7201) are among the companies working to bring self-driving car technology to the market.

Source: Telegraph



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scary proposal.
By chromal on 9/3/2013 7:56:40 PM , Rating: 2
70mph is surprising conservative, and I can't help but wonder how much of this is a backdoor way of limiting greenhouse gas emissions, since a lot of the energy spent maintaining vehicle speed over 55MPH is "wasted" on aerodynamic drag.

What percentage of 30,000 or so fatal auto accidents involve one or more vehicles exceeding 70 MPH, anyway?

I find both the prospect of vehicles speed limited to 70mph as well as driving being restricted to automated machines as absolutely mortifying, I get a great deal of enjoyment driving sporty cars around the mountains where I live, something I certainly don't intend to give up voluntarily in the next two or three decades.




RE: scary proposal.
By Flunk on 9/3/2013 8:04:05 PM , Rating: 1
You have a point there it sets a bad precident. I too enjoy driving cars through mountains, I just can't afford the sporty kind.


RE: scary proposal.
By maugrimtr on 9/4/2013 8:45:50 AM , Rating: 5
The proposal is obviously some informal report to the EU that hasn't been acted on, or it's been completely made up, or DT has reported it wrong. 70mph is in imperial units. Europe officially uses the metric system. Doh!

Seriously, 70mph equates to 112kph. Good luck convincing Europe on that. Ireland, Spain & Portugal have a motorway speed limit of 120kph, Germany's autobahns have no enforced limit, French motorway limit is above normal at 130kph (but in dry weather only).

Who has a 70mph (112kph) limit? The UK. Because it's a good round number in imperial.

If DT reported on the facts, they'd see the proposal was for a camera system that would read speed limit signs and impose the speed limit. It's a stupid idea in a world where GPS tracking is ubiquitous and would be far more efficient at tracking speed limit zones by location. It's not, however, an EU wide 112kph limit as this article implies - Germany's autobahns are safe.


RE: scary proposal.
By Jeffk464 on 9/3/2013 8:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
You could actually tie the system into the navigation system so the car can't go more than 10 mph over the speed limit no matter what road you are on.

By the way driving a sporty car around the mountains is fun, commuting to work in the city is a chore.


RE: scary proposal.
By CaedenV on 9/3/2013 9:04:16 PM , Rating: 2
This is a much better idea. Perhaps have a global speed limit of say 80mph so that no matter how you hack your car you can't outrun the cops, but for in-town driving there should be a floating limiter based on local speed limitations.

Rather than a 10mph speed limit, then maybe a 15% limit? Going 30mph in a school zone is a bit out of line, but 23 is not. Similarly, if you are on a small country freeway then you may need more than a 70mph bump if you need to pass a slow poke without worrying about oncoming traffic.

... Still, I would rather not have such limitations on my car. But if we are going to have limits then lets have limits that make some sense.


RE: scary proposal.
By silverblue on 9/4/2013 2:26:29 AM , Rating: 2
The police safety camera vans can get you for doing 10% + 2mph over the limit round these parts (35, 46, 57, 68 and 79 for 30 to 70). That limit of yours would work for 35 and 46, but you'd end up with a nice letter at the other speeds.


RE: scary proposal.
By Solandri on 9/5/2013 5:05:21 PM , Rating: 2
Every time I read about artificially limiting a car's top speed to prevent people from breaking the law, I'm reminded of a story from when Mt. St. Helens blew up. One of the survivors said he was doing 100 mph down the mountain road to get away from the pyroclastic flow. He passed a couple doing 70 mph in a station wagon. He lived. They died.

Yeah, I know volcanoes are exceedingly rare events. The point is that occasionally situations arise where the need for that extra speed is more important than any law.


RE: scary proposal.
By Devilboy1313 on 9/4/2013 1:15:08 AM , Rating: 3
Just curious ... how would you pass a car that is going under the limit? Wouldn't that extra 10 mph result in way more time in on-coming traffic?

Maybe that's just me but when I pass a car, I pass as fast as I can and get back in. Screw the speed limits, I'd rather temporarily break the speed limit than increase the chance of a head-on collision at highway speeds.


RE: scary proposal.
By ShieTar on 9/4/2013 2:40:04 AM , Rating: 2
You do not drive on the opposite direction lane on a European highway. Highways have almost exclusively several lanes per direction, and a steel separation between the two directions. Also, the time you can spend on the opposite direction without accidents is about 0.05 seconds.

What you are thinking of are one-lane state roads. There already is a speed limit on those, e.g. 65 mph outside of settlements, 30 mph inside of settlement for Germany.

The law wants to reduce the number of accidents caused by people going 150 mph on the highway because they "know" they are a great driver.


RE: scary proposal.
By Jeffk464 on 9/4/2013 2:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, divided highways save more lives then speed limits. People suck at passing, seen people screw up way to many times.


RE: scary proposal.
By TSS on 9/4/2013 9:02:11 AM , Rating: 3
I don't know how it is in other europian countries but here in holland it's allowed by law to break the speed limit for a short time only in case you have to overtake another car.

Say the limit is 120 km/h, and another car is going 110 km/h, then you basically *have* to speed up to about 130 km/h to pass that car in a timely and safely manner. The law recognises this and it's allowed.

In fact large trucks can only go 80 km/h and aren't allowed to pass eachother on the highway just for this fact. When they do it takes such a long time for them to pass eachother there's a real risk of "Ghost traffic", where you end up in a traffic jam and at the end speed up out of it again without ever having passed a accident or road construction or whatever. Becuase of the ripple effect of 2 trucks going 80 km/h blocking the passenger cars going 120 km/h.

For reference, 70 mp/h is about 112 km/h, while the passenger car speed limit here is 120 km/h on most highways while being 130 km/h and 80 km/h on a few select ones. So there's no way these regulations will fly because there's too much variation in local laws.

This is just the brussels gravy train trying to look usefull. The plan will get shot down and once again they'll have spent about half a year working and staffing another plan that'd never work in the first place. Did you know that just this year, with "austerity" gripping the continent, brussels asked for a 8% increase in budget?


RE: scary proposal.
By TheEinstein on 9/4/2013 12:00:26 PM , Rating: 2
80km/h? I would go stark raving mad! I thought California was bad with their 90km/h in a zone where autos go 118km/h.

And no passing? Yeah that makes me cry. Today I have 10,000 pounds of cargo and ahead of me is a good half dozen mountain climbs. Getting stuck behind a truck going 35km/h where I can easily get 100km/h up the same... insane!

did you know my truck model gets the same fuel economy at 100km/h as it does 112km/h? That is because the way the gearing works in the CAT Engine I have. It gets more efficient at higher speeds.


RE: scary proposal.
By Nephiorim on 9/7/2013 11:18:02 AM , Rating: 2
Well take into consideration the Netherlands is about as flat as a country gets. No mountains. Also the no overtaking rule for trucks is only in effect in certain locations on the highway and only during certain hours. Add to that the fact that we don't have the monster trucks like the US has... It's not too bad really :). Also looking at the Netherlands from west to east it's about 130-140km across, so traffic permitting you won't spend more than 2 hours driving from the port of Rotterdam to Germany.


RE: scary proposal.
By PrinceGaz on 9/5/2013 11:32:47 AM , Rating: 2
If large trucks are limited to 80 km/h, the best solution to avoid accidents is to limit everyone to 80 km/h. You've solved the overtaking speed-differential problem, improved the fuel efficiency of all road vehicles generally therefore reducing pollution, and reduced the risk of accidents.

Anyone who is in a hurry to get somewhere else can always catch the train (or plane for international journeys).


RE: scary proposal.
By Stuka on 9/3/2013 9:13:45 PM , Rating: 2
Definitely a good point. If we are gonna go this far, why stop short? Just make the maximum speed 30-40mph. There is really no need to go faster and the increase in safety would be huge.

But this won't happen. Not because the voting public doesn't want it, but because sales/use tax revenue and vehicle registration revenue would plummet. Without the need to sustain high speeds cars could be made much cheaper. Goodbye to nearly all luxury vehicles, hello 1.8L Camry with leather interior. Even richies with cash burning their pockets will not buy an Aventador that tops out at 70mph. lol


RE: scary proposal.
By chromal on 9/3/2013 11:50:18 PM , Rating: 2
In a perverse way, it would be interesting if this happened with new cars. It'd make my SAAB 900 turbo and mazdaspeed3 like wolves in a pack of sheep on the highway.


RE: scary proposal.
By tamalero on 9/3/2013 10:26:16 PM , Rating: 3
I also wonder why they dont want to tackle the #1 cause of deaths by driving.. ALCOHOL.


RE: scary proposal.
By mmntech on 9/3/2013 10:53:32 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it's not alcohol anymore. At least not here in Canada. Distracted driving has surpassed drunk driving as the leading cause of automobile fatalities.


RE: scary proposal.
By Stuka on 9/4/2013 1:10:51 PM , Rating: 4
Both are misnomers for IRRESPONSIBLE PEOPLE. It's the human being's lack of care, intellect, respect, and responsibility that cocks the hammer on that pistol every time they start the car. It is not some mysterious amalgamation of miscellaneous circumstances. People are thoughtless dicks. Good luck legislating that though.


RE: scary proposal.
By JediJeb on 9/5/2013 3:09:09 PM , Rating: 1
Start making the penalty for traffic violations start at $1000 per offense with loss of license then require taking the written and driving test over to regain the license and you would cut down on those not paying as much attention as soon they would be broke. So many people I know now just laugh if they get a ticket and never change their attitude towards how they drive.


RE: scary proposal.
By Reclaimer77 on 9/5/2013 4:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
Wasn't there a cop who was pulling over women just to hit on them in the news recently?

I'm sorry but your idea is WAY too prone to being abused. It's like you want to destroy peoples lives for minor harmless infractions. Give me a break!

I want you fined $20,000 for jaywalking. What do you think about that? Something everyone does, but is technically illegal.


RE: scary proposal.
By thurston2 on 9/10/2013 1:06:06 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe we should put them in prison for a year. We should increase the penalties for all crimes to ridiculous levels then no one would break the law.


RE: scary proposal.
By M'n'M on 9/3/2013 11:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
70mph is surprising conservative, and I can't help but wonder how much of this is a backdoor way of limiting greenhouse gas emissions, since a lot of the energy spent maintaining vehicle speed over 55MPH is "wasted" on aerodynamic drag. What percentage of 30,000 or so fatal auto accidents involve one or more vehicles exceeding 70 MPH, anyway?

Both good points ! And of those accidents exceeding 70 MPH, how many involve some other actually stupid activity, like being drunk or tailgating or texting or ...
And which countries do they occur in ? I wonder what the death rate is in Bulgaria compared to Germany. And if the local population there is "happy" with that rate and willing to go that fast, why does Brussels feel the need to tell them otherwise ?


RE: scary proposal.
By ShieTar on 9/4/2013 3:11:42 AM , Rating: 2
I Germany, 40% of the lethal accidents involve proven excessive speeds (over the allowed limit), while only 9% involve alcohol. Honestly, all accidents on a German Autobahn will involve speeds over 70 mph, nobody goes that slow unless he is driving a large truck. Other distractions don't even make it into the statistics, participation in German traffic is generally much more stress full and requires much more attention than the "cruising" used on many US roads. Many German drivers greatly enjoy driving in the US for exactly this reason.

One thing the proposed law does not consider is the fact that less than a third of lethal accidents (at least in Germany) occur on highways. Federal roads ("Bundesstraße") have a much higher risk, even though they already have a 65 mpg speed limit.

But one important reason for speed limits is the fact that now 60% of casualties are not actually the drivers of the involved cars, but rather pedestrians, bicyclists and bikers. The insides of cars have gotten much safer, but for other people in the traffic, nothing much has changed.

As for other nations, fatality rates are pretty much the same in all European countries (and Canada, Australia, Japan), with Poland and former Russian nations (Ukraine, Belarus etc.) having almost twice the fatality rate capita, and Russia itself going much higher than that again.
Interestingly, Europe and Canada manage half the fatalities as the US with a similar Car density, while the Ukraine get to the same fatality rate as the US, but only needs half the automobile density to achieve it.


RE: scary proposal.
By kslavik on 9/4/2013 4:29:11 PM , Rating: 2
When you compare fatality rates, you have to take into account number of miles driven for one fatality, and average # of passengers inside an average car. Comparing fatality rates per capita is pretty useless in itself.

The best statistic to compare is # of fatal accidents (not even total fatalities) per 1 billion miles driven. But only few countries would actually have this data readily available.

Once you start comparing apple to apples you would see a different picture.

Consider that in USA people drive much more miles per capita than in any Europian nation.


RE: scary proposal.
By integr8d on 9/4/2013 2:10:15 AM , Rating: 2
Pretty sure 'Drive 55' was adopted during the 70's gas crunch, when cars had the aerodynamic efficiency on an elephant in mud.


RE: scary proposal.
By Suspicious on 9/4/2013 5:48:38 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, elephants are not that bad aerodynamically. Putting them in mud doesn't change that.


RE: scary proposal.
By fic2 on 9/4/2013 11:33:47 AM , Rating: 3
Just spent 4 weeks in Europe. A lot of the highways that I drove were 130kph (78mph) and a lot (maybe most) were going above this so I don't think it would fly.

I saw two accidents during the 4 weeks there. Both in cities. This would have prevented neither.


RE: scary proposal.
By EricMartello on 9/4/2013 5:11:13 PM , Rating: 2
Leave it to Europe to find more ways to use government to oppress people with their "we know what's best for you" mentality. I can say with a high degree of certainty that high speeds are not the "culprit" in auto collisions or crashes as much as irresponsible/stupid drivers are.

If you're going to be "oppressive" than how about boosting the standards for getting a drivers' license in the first place? Require people to take a road course test that forces them to prove that they know how to handle their vehicle. Also increase the annual fees for maintaining a license so that poor people and their old, slow sh1tty cars stay off the roads. They shouldn't be driving; they have public transportation options.

Instead, an arbitrary limit of 70 MPH is what they propose...and it's not going to fix anything. I doubt this would pass because even as left-wing as Europeans are they do like to drive fast and a lot of them are hardcore racing fans.


RE: scary proposal.
By maugrimtr on 9/5/2013 10:16:03 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, DT misreported the story so this is not actually an EU idea. The original story was about introducing cameras in cars that could read speed signs (had nothing to do with changing speed limits already in place).

Also, don't be complete stupid. Driving too fast, whether it be on some dirt road in the sticks or a multi-lane highway is dangerous. Fortunately all those nanny state inventions like seatbelts, airbags, and (let me hear you scream) car safety regulations and testing have reduced the fatality rate a lot. It just hasn't done much good for pedestrians who insist on not wearing government mandated full body armour when walking outside.

This will clearly shift most fatalities away from high speed areas into pedestrian heavy areas like residential zones, towns, city streets and one's driveway (where blind spots leave pets and kids alike susceptible to being rolled over by a reversing vehicle).

Feel free to continue imagining the left-wing Europe you feel in your gut must exist somewhere though.


RE: scary proposal.
By EricMartello on 9/5/2013 11:22:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Unfortunately, DT misreported the story so this is not actually an EU idea. The original story was about introducing cameras in cars that could read speed signs (had nothing to do with changing speed limits already in place).


Pretty sure this had nothing to do with speed limits whatsoever and was reported as being an arbitrary physical limitation on a vehicle's top speed.

quote:
Also, don't be complete stupid. Driving too fast, whether it be on some dirt road in the sticks or a multi-lane highway is dangerous.


Driving fast when conditions are not optimal for high speeds would fall under the "irresponsible driving" category. When conditions are optimal and the vehicle is capable, driving 100, 150 or even 200 MPH can be perfectly safe. The key point here is that driving responsibly means knowing when it is safe to drive fast and when driving fast poses an unreasonably high risk to yourself and other motorists.

quote:
Fortunately all those nanny state inventions like seatbelts, airbags, and (let me hear you scream) car safety regulations and testing have reduced the fatality rate a lot.


Unlike the "war on speeders", seatbelts and airbags are effective safety devices that have been proven to reduce injury in a collision.

Car safety regulations are necessary to an extent, however I do believe that a lot of them go too far or attempt to give people a falsely elevated sense of safety. Driving is risky and if you choose to drive you should be aware of the risk.

quote:
It just hasn't done much good for pedestrians who insist on not wearing government mandated full body armour when walking outside.


Peds are responsible for following some basic procedures when crossing a road, which involves looking both left and right before stepping onto a road. This means pulling headphones out of your ears and looking up for your derpphone.

quote:
This will clearly shift most fatalities away from high speed areas into pedestrian heavy areas like residential zones, towns, city streets and one's driveway (where blind spots leave pets and kids alike susceptible to being rolled over by a reversing vehicle).


Well, considering that collisions resulting exclusively from "high speed" are minimal there isn't much to be shifting. THe other things you mentioned, like kids getting hit by their parents backing out of a driveway, happen a lot more often.

quote:
Feel free to continue imagining the left-wing Europe you feel in your gut must exist somewhere though.


You do realize that America was founded by Europeans to get out from under the thumb of the left that still infects Europe. The people who stayed behind are political masochists - they have a need to be dominated and oppressed.


RE: scary proposal.
By Nephiorim on 9/7/2013 11:23:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do realize that America was founded by Europeans to get out from under the thumb of the left that still infects Europe. The people who stayed behind are political masochists - they have a need to be dominated and oppressed.

I'll enjoy my multiparty system where I actually have a choice, thank you very much :)


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