Europeans implement my dream life-year saving system

March 2020… Why do we care about COVID-19 deaths more than driving-related deaths?: I point out that we aren’t doing anything about motor vehicle fatalities that are comparable in scale to the feared-at-the-time COVID deaths. I failed to adjust for life-years in this piece, so didn’t capture that fact that motor vehicle accidents have a far higher cost than the COVID-19 epidemic that led us to shut down schools, lock down businesses (except for “essential” marijuana in California and Massachusetts), etc. “We’re willing to invest $trillions to reduce the death toll from coronaplague, but hardly a dime to build centerline dividers on more of our two-lane roads so as to eliminate head-on collisions.”

February 2021… Save lives by limiting cars to 35 mph?: … by shutting down for a year we’ve spent way more per life-year in our attempt to reduce coronaplague deaths than I ever could have imagined. If we infer from this how much saving a life-year is worth to us, it would be rational to limit cars and tracks, nearly all of which are electronically controlled, to 35 mph. Consider that most people who die in car accidents had many decades of life expectancy in front of them, unlike the typical 82-year-old victim of COVID-19. … How about insisting that engine control software be updated in order to get an inspection sticker? The update will prevent the car from exceeding 35 mph. New cars, obviously, can be limited via regulation.

It looks as though the lockdown-loving Europeans agree with me, at least to some extent. They’re not willing to put anywhere near as high a price on a life-year lost due to a car accident compared to a life-year lost to COVID-19, but they are going to at least take the basic steps.

“Anti-Speeding Tech Is Now Mandatory in European Union” (Autoweek, July 7):

Mandatory on all new cars sold by 2024, the switchable ISA technology is expected to reduce speeding by 30% and traffic deaths by 20%.

Haptic feedback requires the car to recognize speed signs and, if the driver is in fact speeding, automatically push back against the driver’s accelerator pedal pressure. The speed control function goes one step further by cutting power input from the pedal once the speed limit is reached.

At least in the early years of these systems going in, the driver will have the ability to override the electronically enforced speed limit. Should we take bets on how soon before a public health emergency is declared and the electronic limit because a hard limit?

Here’s a great place for a computer-enforced speed limit, Lion Country Safari:

Speed limit 5 mph and the kids in the back would scream “speeder, speeder!” if the Honda Odyssey’s instruments indicated 6 mph or faster.

A daily-driver Ferrari at the local office park:

You can’t spit in a strip mall parking lot in South Florida without hitting a car that would end up with 400 excess horsepower in the event that this kind of regulation is adopted in the U.S.

18 thoughts on “Europeans implement my dream life-year saving system

  1. There is no really good reason for cars to be able to drive faster than the speed limit. There is also no good reason for hit and run accidents to be a thing. If cars operated under the same regulatory regime as planes:

    1. Getting a driver’s license would involve an intense training regime of about of at least 100 hours just so you could drive in good weather conditions and another 100 or more so you could drive in poor weather conditions as well.

    2. All cars would carry transponders that constantly broadcast their unique identifier, position, and vector.

    2a. While we are at it. Cars should just not be able to speed. The computer should prevent cars from speeding when it knows the speed limit, which most if not all modern cards do. (As Philip suggests.)

    3. Make car drivers pass and maintain the same medical requirements that pilot’s do.

    4. Make car drivers take a bi-annual review.

    • @Daniel Knighten: “There is really no good reason for cars to be able to drive faster than the speed limit.”

      That’s almost complete bullshit. I live in semi-rural area where many of the speed limits are marked well under the safe speed for the road, even in rain and sometimes in snow. If you would like to propose raising the speed limits to the speed that modern cars are safe to drive at, you could start with I-84 in Connecticut, where the posted speed limit is 65 but should be 75.

      At that speed you would find that most drivers don’t violate the limit and are not easy prey for the occasional State Trooper raids to take their money and jack their insurance rates, give them “points” on their license and so forth. I drive on I-84 in CT every day. Some parts through Hartford are appropriately marked and others are pure nonsense and drivers of all types and socioeconomic levels surpass the posted limits very safely.

      I usually set the cruise control on my 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid at approximately 73 miles per hour, 8 MPH over the limit and have had bursts of speed up to 108 MPH on occasion. If you’d like to propose raising the limit, that’s fine with me.

    • @DK:

      I am waiting with my friends who own guns for you to implement your totalitarian speed control regime. If you really believe what you’re saying and not just trolling the place for fun, you’re nuts. The real problem is drunk and stoned people who drive the wrong way down a highway, etc. If you’d like to put a BAC+THC analyzer on the steering wheel, fine by me. But I’m not going to accept your totally arbitrary nonsense. The answer is NO.

    • @Daniel Knighten: Finally (and I know too many comments) – I’d like to tell you a story. A few years ago one of my relatives had a heart attack, and in the area where I live, calling an ambulance to take him to the hospital would have taken about 45 minutes to an hour for the trip.

      He was in absolute agony and I realized that if we called an ambulance, by the time he reached the hospital he would be dead. I wasn’t going to let him die on his living room floor. I pulled him out of his chair and helped LIFT him into our minivan, and then I drove at an average speed of about 75 MPH through three towns. I’m a very good driver. We got to the hospital in 14 minutes and he was immediately admitted to the ICU and stabilized. Four days later when he came home, his doctor told me: “I’ll never recommend this to anyone, but if you hadn’t brought your father here as quickly as you did, he wouldn’t have survived.”

      So take your automatically disabling mechanisms and speed control limits and SHOVE THEM WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE.

    • I *may* be trolling for fun, but nonetheless, I do seriously ask what is the difference in kind between driving and flying that makes us accept near-totalitarian state imposed restrictions on flying that we would apparently never accept on driving?

      And yes, as pointed out by others, there are speed limits in the air, they are just as a practical matter not an issue much of the time.

    • @DK: Take it up with the FAA. From what I’ve read so far on this blog, it takes several years and a lot of money for anyone to even consider changing anything based on people’s reasonable requests. Anything regarding aviation is expensive – when it comes to changing rules. It’s plausible to me that modern aircraft outfitted with modern instrumentation and control systems are capable of achieving higher speeds without compromising safety, just as cars have become much more reliable and capable of achieving higher speeds safely.

      If you’ve been alive since the 1970s, you know that even the cheapest modern cars have much better tires and brakes. My father used to own a 1973 Chevrolet Caprice Estate and you pushed it to 75 MPH at your peril with the tires of the time, and so forth. With modern cars, you feel like you can get out and walk at 65, which is why people ignore the posted limits much of the time. Then they get hammered when someone in a town or the State wants to raise some money.

      I was on I-84 last Sunday, and the prevailing average speed was around 80 MPH. It was CAVU conditions and everyone was just loping along at 80, noncompetitively.

      I feel badly that in order to get some new rules from the FAA it will probably take someone like Richard Branson to advocate for them. Send him an email and see if he responds.

    • @DK: Also, I’m trying (so far unsuccessfully) to find the interview Neil Sloane did, talking about his interests and research in number theory, but also touching on a few personal areas, like the reason he was a fast driver. I remember the quote but I can only paraphrase because I am having trouble finding the source document. Basically he said: “Don’t you enjoy being able to do things a bit faster when you’re smart?”

      It was in the 1980s and I don’t know if it’s been sucked into the Ether yet, but I got the distinct impression that Neil Sloane enjoyed driving (and would have enjoyed flying also) and was a very good driver during his time at Bell Labs in NJ, etc. If I find the article with the interview I’ll post it here, but for now I suppose you’ll have to treat it as apocryphal and anecdotal.

  2. Yes, there are speed limits on airplanes. For example, in the US, you can’t go faster anywhere than Mach 1.
    Other limits include below 10,000 feet above mean sea level you are limited to 250 knots indicated air speed. It gets more complicated from there.

  3. Funny how the only way to see the animals in lion country safari is to drive something that normally turns animals into roadkill. Real lions can’t afford to live in south Fl*rida/NY 2.0.

  4. The biggest problem I’ve had because of all the beautiful weather where I live, which has caused all the flora and fauna to reproduce and multiply to almost enormous levels, are SQUIRRELS in the road. I’ve never seen as many as this year, and of course because squirrels are primarily adapted to live in trees, they suck at navigating flat surfaces like roads because one eye tells them something and the eye on the other side of their head tells them something else. We’ve all seen this and run over them.

    Where I live in Massachusetts, this has been a mild summer so far, with only a few days of high temps., a lot of rain, and critters everywhere.

    So far I have not crushed a squirrel into the Truly Infinite Elsewhere, but it’s not easy, because there have been so many of them this year. [Despite all the BS from the Weather Channel about MA being in ‘drought’]

    Have fun and be safe!

  5. I would rather rip out the “pushback” system, reprogram the ECU, and suffer the consequences. The Yurps are all totalitarians and they’ve managed to convince the Dumb Dumbs. Just say NO.

  6. If this ever becomes a reality, you will see dark organization / hackers making some good $$ by offering software / devices to break the system. Which could be a good thing, because you have created a new business!

    The only way I see this working and can be enforced without any problem is:
    1) Adding speed bumps on every road at every 1/10 of a mile, or
    2) Going back to non-paved roads.

    I would vote for (2) because then there is no longer a need to collect taxes for road repairs. The public should be happy.

    The drawback with (1) and (2) is that emergency vehicles such as: Cruiser, EMS, Fire Stations, and the likes won’t get to their destination on time. Unfortunately, this could lead to unnecessary death.

  7. Everybody relax. At the rate our car infrastructure is cratering, this is a self-limiting problem. Most roads I travel have ongoing projects and “furniture” that will never let the haptics or speed governors (is that still a thing?) engage.

  8. A quick googling shows speed in not even a factor in two-thirds of traffic fatalities. Speeding kills a pretty small number of people compared to aging-related deaths for example from heart disease and cancer.

    The only way speeding destroys more life years than heart disease and cancer is by fudging the numbers and defining “life years lost” as the difference between your actual age at death and the age you’re expected to die from heart disease or cancer, i.e. your life expectancy.

    E.g. a traffic accident at age 30 destroys 80-30=50 life years because you were expected to die from a heart attack or cancer at age 80 anyway. But the death at 80 doesn’t destroy any life years because it was expected? This is a crock; you simply can’t measure life years lost to age-related diseases this way.

    If you count heart disease and cancer as caused by the same underlying condition — aging — e.g. an age-related inability of the body to maintain itself — maybe your life expectancy without aging would be 500 years.

    If so, aging destroys 420 life years per victim which is almost as much as traffic fatalities destroying 470 life years per victim, and aging has a *lot* more victims. Hands down, aging is the bigger destroyer of life years.

  9. @Not Alex, @William02138, you both are correct but yet, the so called “smart” guys that we elect to improve our lives think otherwise. For #COVIDFear, their answer was lockdown, masks and jabs. For car accidents death, they figured forced speed limit and reporting is the answer. In other word, they know better then you or I do and they are always correct. That’s the point Philip was trying to make by this post.

  10. Everyone should remember to give Philip full credit when they finally get a car that won’t let them drive faster than the speed limit!

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