10 November 2004
Out of sight, out of reach
American drivers of a certain age will remember the Joan Claybrook Memorial Speedometer, inflicted on motor vehicles sold in the States around 1980: not only did it top out at a mundane 85 mph, but automakers were required to give special prominence to the national 55-mph speed limit. This was every bit as stupid as you think it was, and was eventually abandoned, as was the double-nickel itself. The thinking, and I use the term loosely, was that if the speedo only reads 85, everyone will assume that this is the maximum speed of the car and no one will drive faster than that. The far more common response, of course, was "Hmmm. Wonder what happens if I peg this baby?" The Law of Unintended Consequences at its finest.
And although this scheme didn't work worth a damn in the States, it's enjoying an inexplicable revival in usually-sensible Australia; the premier of the state of Victoria is proposing a 130-kph maximum (80 mph, more or less) for speedometers fitted to vehicles sold in Oz. What's more, he says, eventually he wants the actual top speed reduced. (Victoria, I assume, is the Australian equivalent of a Blue State.)
There's no way to predict how the Australian Transport Council will respond to this notion, but Tim Blair has a recommendation: if we must specify a top speed at all, let it be, oh, 300 kph.
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Wow. The election is over. Time for some linky love. Must be decomposing. And why would you want a new one? Oh yeah something about filling the holes in the swiss cheese. (Link from SondraK.) Just can't drive 55. Vive......[read more]