Worldwide, road accidents cause a million death each year. In the US, where road deaths total 42,000 a year, about one third of of all fatalities have been attributed to excessive speed. If globally representative, that figure means enforcement of appropriate speed limits could prevent several hundred thousand road deaths every year.

Which raises the question: how to achieve enforcement of appropriate speed limits? Photo radar seems the obvious solution: If you speed, you’ll be spotted and fined as heavily as necessary to discourage you from ever speeding again.

But despite sometimes astronomically expensive speeding tickets, carnage on the road due to excessive speed continues even in where photo radar has been implemented. For that, there are two reasons:

First, photo radar has never been implemented on a nationwide scale, so there is always room to hope that this or that particular stretch of highway isn’t monitored.

Second, posted speed limits often seem stupid. In good light, on a dry day, on a dual carriageway, with minimal traffic, a limit of 80, 90, even 100 or 110 kph seems ridiculous. Almost any car produced today can easily hit 120-130 kpm and many go way faster, comfortably and safely under the right conditions.

So what is the solution? Easy! Just two things:

First, real time adjustment of speed limits according to prevailing conditions of light, temperature, precipitation, visibility, traffic density and local hazards, something that can be implemented with a combination of electronics and roadside video displays.

Second, universal speed monitoring, so no one thinks they can avoid penalty for ignoring speed limits.

Then, if it’s safe to hit 160 in the passing lane, do it. But if there are fog patches, or there is a risk of hydroplaning, if traffic density is high, or the light is poor, you may be limited to 80, 50 25 or 10 kph, all for perfectly sensible reasons.

In addition, on multi-lane roads, there should be minimum limits in the passing lane so that idiot slouches don’t cause accidents by forcing those travelling at the legal limit to weave around them.

I dunno. Maybe these proposals won’t save millions of lives in the first decade, but they’d sure save many.

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