Speed Governor

Yesterday, Scott Wiener announced a bill that would see speed governors installed in all vehicles sold in California starting in 2027. I think this is fantastic. And not just the term “speed governor” which evokes the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Mach 5.

I am so sorry.

Anyways I think it’s ridiculous that we just sell cars that can go 100+ mph and think humans can resist the temptation. But some of the biggest benefits might come at lower speeds.

If you get hit by a car traveling about 25 mph, there’s about a 10% chance of you dying, and a 25% chance of you getting severely injured. That’s the standard speed limit for most neighborhoods (but frankly depending on the neighborhood that can feel too fast).

Say someone’s late for work and trying to shave off a minute of their drive, and they hit you at a speed of about 40 mph. Your chances of death just jumped to 50% and your chance of severe injury is 75%. Basically it’s a small miracle if you’re at all ok after that. 35 mph is a standard for busier city streets and arteries, and I’d wager most people go at least 40 in a 35 zone.

I greatly dislike the culture around speeding. Especially people bragging about how much time they shaved off their 30 minute commute. The fact is speeding often doesn’t get you places noticeably quicker – the risk:reward ratio is terrible. Maybe you save 5 minutes: what are you going to do with all that time on your hands?

That being said, it’s not uncommon for me to realize I’m speeding because I got distracted by something and wasn’t paying close attention. I think it’s a shame we built our country’s transportation infrastructure around a system where people die if a human gets too distracted, and then built our economy around things that distract humans.

Regardless of the reason for speeding, we don’t need it. If we can save lives by limiting the speed of cars, then we needed it to happen yesterday.

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David Schlaepfer @davids