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Slowing us down one way or another

As a policymaker, you greet each day with the expectation that the policy you have supported, lobbied for, and in some instances, championed and even authored, is not only enacted, but better yet … works! That’s the holy grail for any policymaker, a policy that works. A policy that positively impacts the lives of your constituents and can be used in the best of cases as a model for other districts.

Policymakers are plowing ahead these days in Europe, seeking to do just that. We all know that highway speeding claims lives. Texting while driving does as well but speeding at excessive rates really ups the ante. So, it should come as no surprise that the goal of any city, worldwide, is to get folks driving at lower speeds, responsibly. The European Union is supporting this motion with a policy objective of requiring speed-limiting coupled with emergency braking technology in all new vehicles beginning in 2022. Otherwise known as intelligent speed assistance, the technology uses video cameras and satellite data (location) to detect when drivers exceed the limit and the engine will then be tapped into to restrict power. Sound a bit controlling? You bet, and that’s where the challenges are coming.

It should be noted that drivers can override the system by pressing the gas pedal harder. But the simple act of your car slowing via a third party has folks thinking that if some other entity knows you’re speeding, you should likely do the right thing and pop back into “responsible citizen” mode. The Union believes this type of technology could reduce fatalities by up to 20 percent. The initiative has made it through the committee stage and to be ratified and made official a confirmation from the full Parliament and member state ministers is required. Throughout the European Union speed limits vary dramatically. On Germany’s storied autobahn for example, there is no limit and the country prefer it that way. In fact, a recent measure to apply a limit was flat out rejected by German voters.

Neighboring France however has something a bit different – limits for good and bad weather. This has worked in some instances but still falls in and out of favor with voters. It is probably safe to say that most individuals want less traffic fatalities, and we can agree likely agree that excessive speeding is a cause. But nobody wants to be told to slow down. That’s the stubbornness in us all.    

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