Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Motoring gripes

Manchester is thinking about congestion charging and the government is smiling on it. Businesses are up in arms and there is much debate. The M60 motorway is to be included in the plans. I vehemently disagree with this idea. Why should I be charged to drive past Manchester on my way to somewhere else? How else am I supposed to get to Liverpool or Warrington (which I have to do occasionally)? OK, tax those going into Manc but not those who are using one of the key motorway routes in the north of England. The idea seems to be half baked. With a looming recession and motoring costs hitting the roof the last thing we need is more tax on motorists. Trying to price us off the road is not fair for two reasons; 1) those who are poor should not be prevented from travelling on certain routes 2) People have to use the road. When I drive to Warrington to do my experiments the boot is full of scientific kit. I can't take that on a train! Also, with the housing market being batsh*t crazy people can't afford to live near where they work and even if they can the jobs market is so short term people don't stay living near their workplace for long.

Motoring gripe number two; speeding. The number one killer in the world is traffic - car crashes, people being run over and particularly pollution. Cars that are speeding produce more pollution and are more likely to collide with something or someone and the effects of that collision are more serious. So why aren't all vehicles fitted with speed limiters? These would prevent a vehicle from reaching more than a certain top speed. Some vehicles already have them fitted by law and with some small investment in infrastructure all vehicles could be fitted with a speed limiter that could sense the local speed limit and restrain the speed of the car. I can't think of a single good argument against the idea except for the initial costs. The benefits would be immense. Even for motorists. Fewer traffic jams caused by vehicles doing gas/brake cycles and causing phantom jams. And just think about pulling out at a junction. To leave my housing estate I have to pull onto a road with a 30 mph speed limit. Except the vehicles are just dropping down from 40 mph (ie doing 50 mph) and I can't get out. Of course, the real reason we don't have speed limiters for all vehicles is the motoring lobby. A £60'000 car would be no different to a fiat punto except for a few more creature comforts and a bit more acceleration (but with a flat top speed to aim for who cares?). There is no way the oil lobby and the motoring lobby would take it. And their voice is far more powerful than that of the millions who die each year on the roads.

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