The Samovar


Political miscellany: speed cameras, parecon, slavery
April 19, 2007, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Politics

Speed cameras

The BBC have a feature on speed cameras:

Before speed cameras, the number of road deaths was falling dramatically but this is no longer the case. So do speed cameras really make our roads safer?

The article includes some interesting discussion of the difficulties in evaluating the statistics about whether or not speed cameras really make a difference. I’ve never really been sure about speed cameras myself, but I’m not against speed restrictions in principle.

What the article doesn’t mention is average speed checks. This is a new form of speed camera that is being used quite often now on motorways. The way it works is that they have a series of cameras along a stretch of road. As you pass each one, the camera automatically records your license plate and the time you passed the camera. Since they know the distance between the cameras, this allows them to work out the average speed you were travelling at between any two cameras along the road. If this is higher than the speed limit, you get fined. The clever thing about this is that you can’t just race along above the speed limit and slow down as you pass the cameras. Although you’ll notice that people who don’t yet understand the system still do this, it won’t take long before they learn.

There are some issues with this of course. First, it’s not clear that this could be used in town very easily, where your average speed is typically quite low, and instantaneous measurements are more appropriate. Secondly, there are civil liberties implications. Can we trust the government with a network of cameras which can track our license plates? Probably not.

Still, despite that I’d be in interested in a study which showed how effective these new average speed checks are in reducing accidents.

Personally, I favour installing automatic speed limiters in everyone’s cars.

Participatory economics

Lenin’s Tomb has an entry on parecon (which I have previously written about here and here) with an even more interesting discussion in the comments. Marxists and pareconists are usually quite hostile towards one another, but the discussion at the Tomb is thoughtful, particularly Lenin’s contributions.

Slavery

Chris Dillow has an entry about African economic underdevelopment, slavery and geography. In particular, it introduced me to Nathan Nunn who has done recent work demonstrating a link (although not necessarily a causative one) between economic underdevelopment and slavery.

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2 Comments

On a completely unrelated note, did I see you driving down Brunswick street earlier? If I didn’t, you have a double!

Comment by Chris

zomg! I have a double!

Not me – I was in Leamington for about an hour on Monday, but not otherwise.

Comment by thesamovar




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