The Invisible Hand
David Williams of the Telegraph gives a prototype vehicle equipped with Intelligent Speed Adaptation (what used to be known as a “governor”) a spin through London. The car limits speed to whatever the limit is on the segment — typically 30 mph.
This line struck me:
Like most motorists I want to be law-abiding. Up until now I’d believed I was. But this clever car exposes such self-delusions. Normally I try to keep to 30mph in town but in reality I must have been doing nearer 40 as I never drive this slowly.
Someone recently asked me, “why do people speed?” There’s no short answer to that question (I’ve got 250-page reports tackling the question), but one possibility that must be considered, in light of the above sentences, is that: They actually don’t know how fast they are going. Any number of studies have shown how drivers, particularly when the feedback is noisy — i.e., they’re sitting high up from the road, the car cabin is ultra quiet (or the radio loud), the road is very wide — routinely underestimate their speed.
As we’ve banged on here about many times before, these minor differences in urban speed, while inconsequential and almost imperceptible for the driver, can be of dramatic importance for the pedestrian or cyclist struck by a vehicle.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 8:30 am and is filed under Cars, Cities, Drivers, Pedestrians, Risk. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.