A recent article in Bloomberg (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-10/as-traffic-deaths-grow-so-does-the-need-for-speed-governors) starts by telling the story of an accident caused by a Mercedes driving 90 mph in a 35 mph zone. The accident was caught on a security camera and showed that the Mercedes ran through a red light and hit many other vehicles that immediately burst into flames. The driver of the Mercedes had minor injuries, while the other drivers lost their lives. The victims included a pregnant woman and her 11-month-old son. Now the driver of the Mercedes is being charged with six counts of murder.
More than 10,000 people die annually from car accidents where at least one of the drivers is speeding, according to the National Safety Council. They also discuss how from 2010 to 2019, these traffic-related deaths dropped by 10% until the pandemic in 2020. They chalk it up to empty streets and reckless drivers. The Safety Council says it can combat this phenomenon with the simple device of a speed governor.
This device is not a new concept and has been around for about as long as the car itself. This device stops the vehicle from going over a certain speed. It is even so advanced that they can use geolocation that aligns with the speed limit of the specific roadway. The history of the speed governor started when there was an outcry from the mass amount of pedestrian deaths caused when people and automobiles shared the roads.
Legislation for mandatory governors has been shot down over the years, starting in 1923. While most cars already have speed governors, they are typically set up to 155 mph when the highest speed limit in the United States is 85 mph. The US heavily relies on law enforcement to ensure people do not speed, but as the article points out, they cannot be everywhere. While there are speed cameras in some places, some states have outlawed such technology. Even with high speeding tickets issued constantly, there is no progress on how to stop them. The article suggests governors for repeat offenders, like an ignition interlock system for someone with multiple DUIs. Another suggestion is to redesign roads in a way that inherently slows drivers down. Unfortunately, like the rest of the proposals, there has been resistance to passing any laws for the change.
Even though other countries are looking into using speed governors, the US has no intentions to add them to their cars. The speed governors have many benefits that appear to help with traffic-related deaths.
Of course, I am part of the system of speeding tickets, representing people in Kansas and Missouri accused of speeding. My strategy in most cases is mitigation – what can we do to prevent the speeding ticket from affecting car insurance and my client’s driving record? I’m a driver on the roads of both of these states, and the recklessness of a very minor few ruin the experience for the rest of us.