Below average

In the UK we’re getting more and more stretches of road with ‘average speed checks’. Rather than simply measuring your speed as you pass a particular camera (or a particular policeman), your time over a distance between cameras – typically a few miles – is measured and you’re fined if your average speed exceeds the limit.

I’m not very keen on this, and I have some concerns about the amount of time I then spend looking at my speedometer, but I must admit the system does seem to do its job rather well; I imagine it will become the norm on most of our roads in due course.

Now, averages are funny things, of course. If you’re stuck in traffic for half the distance between two cameras, and moving at half the speed limit, you could then go infinitely fast for the other half and still be within the appropriate average. I imagine the authorities are banking on people not realising this.

Yesterday, as I drove a long stretch of monitored road, I was thinking about creating a system which would let you know what your personal real effective speed limit was at any time. It would need to know the positions of the cameras, but such a database could be built pretty quickly.

And then I realised that my car already has a partial solution built in: a ‘trip’ facility which can tell me the average speed over the length of the trip.

I just needed to press the trip-reset button as I went under a camera, and then I had a nice simple way to keep my average speed within limits until I reached the next one.

So until my next company, Below Average Inc., builds the full all-singing, all-dancing speed management product, this is very handy!

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All the average speed cameras I’ve seen so far view the front number plate of the car rather than the rear number plate – presumably so they are highly visible deterrents.

I suspect the country’s motorcyclists have noticed this fact already.

I don’t want to sound pompous (but shall anyway) – but one way to avoid being caught by these new averaging cameras is, er, to stay within the speed limit.

That also might have other benefits (eg reducing the chance that you will kill someone).

But then perhaps I am just a smug non-car-owner

Warm regards from Addis Ababa

It’s very interesting applying intelligent ways of constraining the way people drive in an attempt to reduce accidents. However, the intelligence needs to be applied to the drivers, who are all too often lacking in this area – especially those who drive subarus who seem to confuse driving on the road with driving on a playstation. I’m still in favour of a 6 inch spike in the centre of steering wheels and the banning of driver’s seat belts. I’m almost certain road accidents will plummet. Hmm, you could have a system where 6 points for speeding = a 6″ spike, but if you only have 2 points for minor offences you get, say, a prickly bramble on the wheel.

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