If George Orwell were alive today and had read this story from The Daily Telegraph, he’d be standing in the middle of the Rue de la Loi, shouting “I told you so!” at the top of his lungs. In a bid to decrease the 30,000 deaths on European roads each year, the European Commission is seeking to require speed-limiting devices on all vehicles.
It’s unclear how the commission would go about this, although according to The Daily Telegraph. The leading candidates involve vehicle-mounted cameras that read speed-limit signs, or satellites beaming speed information into cars so that motorists can be warned whenever they are at risk of exceeding the limit. Another, more invasive scenario could actually see a vehicle’s brakes applied any time the driver exceeds the maximum allowable speed, in this case, 70 mph. This proposed legislation isn’t sitting well with the United Kingdom, though.
Britain’s Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has flatly opposed the notion, telling the paper, “This has Big Brother written all over it.” Besides infringing on the freedom of drivers, the Ministry of Transport also argues that the UK’s road safety record – only 1,754 people dying on the island nation’s roads in 2012 – proves that Britain can get by without the the mandate.
Us? We don’t see this attempt getting very far. Aside from the inevitable invasion of privacy concerns, there’s a big financial one, as well – most countries, states and municipalities in Europe have some level of dependency on revenue collection from speed violations, be they administered automatically via speed camera or the good old fashioned way, by getting pulled over.
What do you think of all this? Have your say in Comments.
UPDATE: The EU has issued a rather scathing formal statement denying this report, saying it is “quite simply not true.” Read the full statement here at the official EU blog.