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UK to Put Monitors in Every Car? 1028

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the insert-orwellian-comments-here dept.
wackoman2112 writes "The Sun is reporting that the UK government has plans to put a computerised spy in every car. This "spy" will record every single time a motorist goes slightly over the speed limit, into a bus lane, or stops on a yellow line! It will report this information to roadside sensors and you will soon receive a fine in the mail."
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UK to Put Monitors in Every Car?

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  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:19AM (#6793370) Homepage
    It seems to me that people *need* a certain amount of flexibility in the law.. Something this rigid is bound to fail...it simply goes too far against human nature.
    • by agentchaos (571758) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:22AM (#6793409)
      Seriously. This plan looks like a perpetual drivers' test. And if anything could raise the collective blood pressure of a nation, that looks like just the thing.
      • by Malc (1751) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:28AM (#6793499)
        Sounds like a good idea, judging by all the bad drivers on the road. How many countries retest their drivers throughout their lives? My UK drivers license (old style one) is valid until my 70th birthday in 2044... do you really think what I learnt today will be so relevant then?
        • by EnderWiggnz (39214) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:32AM (#6793552)
          considerring that there hasnt been any changes in the user interface in a car since like 1930, yes, everything would be relevant.

          now, at the age of 70, would you be physically able to drive a car? thats a different question.
          • by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:41AM (#6793691) Homepage
            Appart from the handle they used to place on the front to start the car and the fact they now go anywhere up to 6 times as fast. Indicators are also fitted now. So, apart from that, no real changes.
          • by cosmo7 (325616) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:55AM (#6793859) Homepage
            considerring that there hasnt been any changes in the user interface in a car since like 1930, yes, everything would be relevant.

            so your car has an advance/retard lever? or a choke? even if you're in that minority in the US that has a clutch and gearstick, i doubt you have to double clutch to change gears because you don't have a synchromesh gearbox. or use different coolants for summer and winter. or regularly have to repair tires because they puncture so often.
          • by Malc (1751) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:27AM (#6794305)
            Try thinking out of the box, or at least beyond the car. Look at how the environment has changed. More people, less space, more rush. Things whizzing around from all directions. New ideas for traffic management... have you even seen those "magic" roundabouts in the UK? I experienced the Hemel Hempstead one this summer, and it's twisted - roundabouts on a roundabout, with traffic going both ways on the larger one. It becomes harder and harder to adapt with age, and reaction times and awareness decrease too. I can't even imagine what the roads will be like in another 40 years. 40 years ago there was hardly any traffic or high speed multi-lane roads.
        • by 4of12 (97621) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:46AM (#6794563) Homepage Journal

          The problem with the new system, apart from its Orwellian intrusion into people's lives, is that it only monitors a limited selection of behaviors that define good driving.

          Most of us have been in the situation where someone is a technically qualified driver - stops when they're supposed to, never exceeds the speed limit, etc. - but they can be among the more dangerous people on the road because they can act without much regard for other drivers, for the flow of traffic. Some of these correct but oblivious drivers don't actually become involved in an accident for every dangerous situation they create; but there cases where other drivers get into the accidents.

          I think periodic tests are sufficient, but full time monitoring is overly instrusive and, though it will cut down some on the number of accidents, it will not completely eliminate the problem of bad drivers.

      • UK road stats (Score:4, Informative)

        by wulfhound (614369) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @12:04PM (#6794812)
        Just to bring it to peoples' attention, something in excess of 3,000 people are KILLED every year by cars and trucks in the UK... and yet the UK is considered to have a "good" road safety record. That figure is in the region of a hundred times worse per passenger mile than the rail or bus system, the equivalent of a fully-loaded 767 going down every single month.

        Hence, I'm in favour of virtually ANY regulation of motorists. Nobody has a god-given right to carry themselves about in two tons of steel - especially in a small and crowded country like the UK with an adequate public transport infrastructure.

        As to "driving at 35 when the limit is 30"... in any case, either of those speeds is too fast on urban UK roads. We have a much higher level of pedestrian (and cyclist) activity than the US, especially in towns. There's also a massive problem with illegaly-owned, uninsured cars and people driving them without the proper license.

        Anyways, to finish on a more /.-friendly note, this type of infrastructure is PERFECT to pave the way for robot-driven self-navigating cars and autonomous road vehicles.
        • Re:UK road stats (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Biolo (25082) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @02:28PM (#6796556)
          Once again the simple minded retoric strikes. The problem is NOT speed. The problem is INAPPROPRIATE speed. If you are driving a 30 year old car on worn tires, it's raining and the roads are busy you are probably driving far too fast if you are anywhere near the speed limit. On the other hand someone driving a modern, reasonable performance vehicle on dry, empty good condition roads is pretty safe well in excess of the speed limit. Despite this the law insists that the first case is perfectly legal (or at least they won't prosecute you for it), but the second case is, if the zealots get there way, a sentence for public hanging. Which car would you feel safer in, ignoring for the moment airbags, crumple zones and the rest?

          Every advanced driving course you can go on will teach you about appropriate use of speed. If I'm overtaking a slower moving vehicle on a single carriageway road the safest thing for me to do is overtake as quickly as possible, speedlimit be damned. They call it "time exposed to danger" for a reason. In your ideal little world I would have to stick to the letter of the speed limit, which would increase the danger to me, the vehicle I'm overtaking and other road users.

          Do you honestly believe that people fixating on the precise speed they are doing, staring at their speedometers, at least when they aren't looking out for the next speed camera, are driving safely? I've given up, now I drive to a speed reasonable for the road conditions, my vehicles condition and capabilities, and my level of alertness. Sometimes that means I'm over the limit, sometimes I'm under. I spend my time looking out of the window where I'm going, or in my mirrors, where my eyes should be, not fixed to the speedo. The only times I actually look at the speedo is when there is a speed camera. Now, ask yourself again, would you rather be on a road where everyone is spending more time looking at their speedos than the road ahead, or one where everyone was paying attention to their driving? We seem to be heading rapidly towards a society where the latter is in prevelance.

          What the government should be going on about is increasing driver training. If you really want to reduce accidents on the roads every driver should have to take a practical test every 5 years (say). By this I do not mean a little 20 minute drive, I mean a really good, in depth examination of your driving skills. If you fail then you have to go on a course of some kind to sort things out, you have say 6 months to complete this and take the test again (perhaps an abbreviated one).

          You can pick up bad driving habits even without realising it. Take me, I considered myself a good driver, I've been on a number of driving courses (off road, rallying, track sessions, skid pans), yet I went out on a "Performance Road Car" course and got picked up for a number of bad habits. None serious, but enough to make me stop and re-evaluate my driving style again. Look at what real "Advanced Drivers" (see http://www.iam.org.uk/ [iam.org.uk]) go through, and you will realise that these guys are an order of magnitude better drivers than most people on the roads. I'd rather be in a car with one of these guys at 120MPH than most people at 60MPH.

          None of this is rocket science, none of it is surely beyond the whit of anyone of average intelligence, yet the Government hasn't ever made even a single move in this direction. The reasons for this are plain, to do the above, whilst very clearly achieving their stated objective of improving road safety, does nothing to line their own pockets. So instead they focus on the mantra of speed, because this means they can tax^H^H^H fine motorists easily and cheaply. That this has been shown to have very little effect on accident rates, and indeed some speed cameras INCREASE the local accident rate, is brushed off. Actually genuinely improving road safety in any reasonable manner would actually cost them money, so they aren't interested.

          The same is true when it comes to

    • by ePhil_One (634771) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:28AM (#6793492) Journal
      It seems to me that people *need* a certain amount of flexibility in the law.. Something this rigid is bound to fail...it simply goes too far against human nature.

      Might not be such a bad thing, we might wind up with more sensible speed laws then.

      Then again, this also seems to be proof that speed laws, etc. are just revenue genrating devices and a means to give the police reason to pull over "profile" folks (ie DWB-Driving while black, and now, DWA-Driving while Arab). IF they really wanted to keep cars from speeding, they'd make the sensors work the other way, tell the car not to exceed 100kph or whatever, and a simple rev-limiter/electronic throttle would maintain the speed.

      Soon after they could build us the little matrix-tubes where we could live out our lives in government mandated safety.

      • by sensate_mass (171138) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:34AM (#6793594)
        Might not be such a bad thing, we might wind up with more sensible speed laws then.

        I'm not so sure. Although the US moved to greatly increase enforcement of drug laws, we haven't yet wound up with more sensible drug laws. All we got were more jails with more people in them. More draconian laws do not necessarily produce an effective backlash.
        • by kin_korn_karn (466864) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:04AM (#6794017) Homepage
          that's because the majority of people don't use drugs. Everyone speeds.
        • by lordcorusa (591938) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:32AM (#6794370)
          Aside from the percentages of people who violate the two kinds of laws, as other responders said, the most relevant difference between this proposal and drug law is enforcement. While we have very strict drug laws in America, they are not enforced very often. While I don't use any drugs, I know a number of people who use them (pot, E, etc) on a regular basis, and yet none of them have ever gotten so much as cited for it.

          This proposal is not merely a strict regulation on driving, it is (theoretically) the perfect mechanism for citations. Presumably it will give you a citation for each and every violation of a traffic law. It is the equivalent of putting a government mandated sensor in your body that phones home every time it detects illegal chemicals in your body.

          Once drivers realize how often they break the laws and how much it costs them, they will demand a change in the law. The only way to avoid this would be to have the prosecutor choose to not prosecute most people, like the police currently choose to not pull over most violations they witness. However, a traffic officer has at least some leeway to decide the dangerousness of a particular violation as he witnesses it; a prosecutor after the fact won't have nearly as much insight. The end result would be enormously unfair, and I am not sure if even the government has enough spin power to make people ignore it.
        • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:37AM (#6794423)
          > We haven't yet wound up with more sensible drug
          >laws.

          Drug laws still only criminalize a minority of the population, despite the fact that pot smokers want to believe everybody supports reform.

          However, if you managed something like 100% enforcement for speeding (and made the punishment for speeding HARSH, such as civil forfeiture of your vehicle!) you might finally tip the scale where the average person is willing to take on the lawful authority with whatever implement of destruction is available to him.

          If they don't get pissed enough to start a revolution, they might at least get pissed enough to start voting.
      • by freeweed (309734) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:03AM (#6794001)
        Well, one could argue that speed laws are there for the 99.9999% of the time people shouldn't be speeding. But you don't want a rate-limiter in cars, because what if someone DOES need to, for just a short time, drive over the limit? Say there's an emergency of some sort, or what have you...

        Also, it could be argued that forcibly controlling a car's speed violates your freedoms. With this scheme, you're free to speed if you want, but be prepared to pay the consequences :)
        • by ePhil_One (634771) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:14AM (#6794147) Journal
          Argueably there should be a "Panic" button for that 5% of the population that inexplicably wind up being chased repeatedly by undead serial killed like Jason Vorhees or T-1000 units. This could helpfully summon police units automaticly to help you out (in case its irate liquor store owners you are running from)
        • by tempmpi (233132) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:17AM (#6794181)
          You could build a flexible limiter. For most situations you only need to drive over the limit for a very short time. The limiter could allow you to drive over the limit for 30 seconds and start limiting if you drive too fast for a longer time.

          If you need to drive an injured person to the hospital or something like that, there could be an emergency switch that disables the limiter completely. After that emergency you would need to get the limiter reenabled by the local police and you would get a ticket if your emergency was something like oversleept and didn't want to be late.
          • by GeckoX (259575) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:28AM (#6794327)
            So I head into a long pass, and the car I'm passing is being a dick and speeding up some as well...that's ok a bit more gas and I'm just about there...oops, my 30 seconds is up and all of a sudden I'm dropped back to my limited speed, parallelling the car I'm trying to pass...and here comes a car coming the other way....

            Yeah, good solution.
        • In the UK the current government propaganda is that speeding is a contributing factor in one third of all accidents which other than the fact that speed is a contributing factor in all accidents is patently bullshit.

          Even the police recognise that speeding contributes to a tiny fraction, some 7% of accidents, the overwhelming factors being bad driving; Poor observation, poor judgement, thoughtlessness and inattention.

          http://www.ringroad.org.uk/one_third.htm

          Why is speeding demonised in this way? It's easy
      • by jdreed1024 (443938) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:19AM (#6794209)
        IF they really wanted to keep cars from speeding, they'd make the sensors work the other way, tell the car not to exceed 100kph or whatever, and a simple rev-limiter/electronic throttle would maintain the speed.

        This is an insanely stupid idea. There are times when you need to speed up to get out of a dangerous situation. For example, I was once driving down the highway, and this guy in the lane next to me (obviously drunk) was weaving in and out of lanes, and other cars had to swerve to avoid him. In that case, the safest place to be is in front of him, not behind him. However, I was already going 65mph (the speed limit) and was in one of the left hand lanes, so I couldn't safely slow down enough to get behind him. So I had to speed up to 75 to pass him and some other cars, and then slow back down to normal speed. And about 15 minutes later, there was a five car pileup, caused by this guy (I found this out on the news when I got home).

        Also, how is such a device going to be regulated? Will it "know" what the speed limit is? How will it enforce it? If I'm on a highway where it's 65, and then it drops to 55 in a populated area (which is not at all uncommon), will it slam on the brakes until the car gets down to 55? That's a great way to get rear-ended.

        Even if the device is smart enough to know what the speed limit is at all times, I'm not sure I want something like that in control of my car's accelerator. I was in a car once where the computer malfunctioned and the fuel-injector was locked full-on. This is equivalent to flooring the accelerator. Fortunately, this happened on an empty street, but had I been in stop and go traffic, or in a parking lot next to a building, I'd probably be dead.

        A car is, like anything else, something which can be used for good or evil. It's up to the operator to decide which they choose. You wouldn't want a program on your computer preventing you from using it to copy MP3s, or view pr0n, or read communist newsletters, would you? Why would you want a device on your car preventing you from exceeding the speed limit when necessary?

        • Not that I agree with it, but in Japan their cars make a beeping or dinging noise if you exceed the maximum speed of the highways -- it lets you pass or go fast for a while for safety but annoys the driver enough to slow down.

          If there were to be *any* speed enforcement, I think that this is the best way.

          As for "tell the car not to exceed 100kph or whatever, and a simple rev-limiter/electronic throttle would maintain the speed", almost all busses have what they call a governor that if you exceed 65mph, the
    • by akbar pasha (658940) <akbar@pio n e r d .org> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:34AM (#6793583)
      yeah we can have those credit card machines installed in every car, so that every time they break a law, they just swipe the card and ready to go....

      much more flexible... ::akbar
    • by slipgun (316092) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:35AM (#6793601)
      Anyone interested in issues surrounding driving in the UK, esp. the anti car madness which is around at the moment, should have a look at SafeSpeed [safespeed.org.uk]. Lots of interesting information regarding cameras, police targets, why driving fast isn't necessarily dangerous, etc.
    • by BJZQ8 (644168) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:38AM (#6793640) Homepage Journal
      We've already got this on the way in the USA. OBD-III (on-board diagnostics 3) is a scheme proposed by the EPA and various other government agencies to "protect the environment." Right now, every new car has OBD-II, which constantly monitors your vehicle for emissions compliance. Wonderful, huh? Well OBD-III will incorporate a satellite transmitter in every car...if your car goes out of spec, the government will know who you are...and have the authority to revoke your registration until you get it fixed. They will also have the ability to stop your car from starting, or stop it entirely if you are determined to be a criminal or environmental outlaw. Plans are already afoot to interface the system with "smart signs"...so you could be issued a ticket directly from a "SPEED LIMIT 55" sign...for going 56. The future is here! Limitless revenue for the government!
      • by Frymaster (171343) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:52AM (#6793821) Homepage Journal
        could be issued a ticket directly from a "SPEED LIMIT 55" sign...for going 56

        well, no, actually. your speedometer is not a perfectly accurate guage of your speed. this is already understood by law-enforcement which is why they only issue you tickets for going substantially over the speed limit. it is very easy to argue in court that your speedomoter was miscalibrated slightly...

        in canada, your speedometer has to be accurate to within ten percent by law.

      • The neat thing about this is that, if you get a service manual for your car, you can tell where the antenna is. Some chicken wire and aluminum foil in the right spot can do wonders.

        In fact, the new cell phones are supposed to have GPS capability soon. I wonder how long it will be before somebody comes up with a little self-adhesive foil "patch" that can be applied over the GPS antenna to block the signal (assuming that the GPS antenna is separate from the phone antenna -- which is likely). If you do nee
        • Paranoia (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jpmorgan (517966) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:17AM (#6794176) Homepage
          GPS fears are paranoia. If you're really afraid that the government is out to get you, you'd better avoid cell-phones entirely. You're walking around with a fairly powerful radio transmitter. There are companies which sell software that triangulate the position of a cell-phone based on the surrounding cell towers. GPS doesn't add any new capability in terms of tracking that they didn't have before.
      • by pmz (462998)
        Well OBD-III will incorporate a satellite transmitter in every car...if your car goes out of spec, the government will know who you are...and have the authority to revoke your registration until you get it fixed.

        If there are United States citizens actually advocating a system like this, then they need to step aside, take a deep breath, and study the history of the USA and a bit of literature to put their zealotry into perspective. People who want systems like this are the real criminals towards humanity
    • by captainclever (568610) <rj@audioscrobbTEAler.com minus caffeine> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:47AM (#6793763) Homepage
      Hahaha for those of you who don't live in the UK - "The Sun" newspaper is a fithy rag of a tabloid.

      They frequently lie and make up stupid stories.

      Don't believe a word of it.
    • by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:09AM (#6794080)
      I have long wondered, here in the USA, what would happen if speeding laws were actually thoroughly enforced. The politicians would not want that. People will take a certain amount of onerous tax like speeding fines, but no more, and the politicians and police are pretty good at judging the limit, to milk as many golden eggs as possible without killing the goose that lays them. I'd love to see real enforcement; so many people would clog the court system, and so many suspended licenses would cause a revolt in traffic laws. Politicians know that. I imagine any policeman who actually wrote speeding tickets all day long, as any of them could, would quickly learn a lesson from his boss.
    • Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:22AM (#6794246)
      The laws need to be REPEALED. 'Flexible' laws are laws that are flexibly enforced. Flexible enforcement is another term for persecution.

      You pass a lot of laws and then you enforce those laws against "them". "They" are whatever group of people needs to be controlled, minimalized, or put down. In the USA, some of these groups are blacks, homosexuals, and conservative Republicans.

      The correct answer is to repeal the laws and replace them with "guidelines". If most traffic laws were repealed, would you start intentionally hitting other cars or pedestrians? I wouldn't.

      If my car told someone I was bad at keeping within the "guidelines" and I got a letter saying "Please do a better job!", would that be a threat? No.

      Freedom is the only correct answer to most of these questions.
  • The Sun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:19AM (#6793376) Journal
    Do you have any fucking idea what "The Sun" is?

    Implied: why bother linking to any of their crap?
  • by Bame Flait (672982) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:20AM (#6793377)
    I want to see people get irate like Snipes in the phone booth in Demolition Man. Maybe slashbots can start a movement to bring back cryogenically frozen nerds to combat our evil oppressors.
  • by BobTheLawyer (692026) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:20AM (#6793379)
    Nobody has a right to drive a car over the speed limit, or to shoot a red light: provided suitable privacy protections are put in place, what exactly is wrong with this proposal?
    • by Oddly_Drac (625066) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:33AM (#6793567)
      "what exactly is wrong with this proposal?"

      They'd spend billions before realising that it won't work as a concept, car thieves routinely circumvent it and the law hasn't caught up to the idea of RFID tagging as evidence. FWIW, quite a large number of traffic lights in this country are already equipped with cameras, and we have several hundred 'GATSO' cameras by the roadside. Unfortunately they don't provide identification of the driver, just the car and by inference the owner, but they can't prove the driver. A small loophole.

      The other problem is that in 2000, they granted the police wide ranging powers to request information of telecommunications providers...we're still waiting for the rules governing the requests to actually be written.

      The current labour government has a track record of trying to lever itself into the position of being a data nexus...the largest personal identification database is run by Envision for TV licensing, but it's not actually registered with the Data Protection registrar. As a result, I don't trust the UK government to actually get stuff right.

    • by c_jonescc (528041) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:36AM (#6793619)
      But how important is general traffic enforcement to the safety of the people? Something this strict and intolerant of circumstance implies too much priority in minor infractions. What should the priorities of serving and protecting be?

      Also, my insurance provider will absolutely hose me if I get more than a ticket a year. People make mistakes (such as not noticing a speed limit sign, or letting the car coast to too high a speed on descent) and if you are ticketed every single time, without the chance to explain/petition for otherwise, who is going to keep the insurance companies in check?

      Maybe the Brits don't have mandatory insurance. I don't really know.
    • by gd23ka (324741) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:38AM (#6793654) Homepage
      Everything. As a vehicle owner I have to pay for it, or rather the expensive transponder box, I have to pay for it when it breaks, I have to make sure it's data such as what insurance I have and other DMV stuff is kept up to date... And as a taxpayer I have to pay for sensors and receivers for every 200ft of road, for every intersection, for every stoplight, I have to pay the cost of communicating with all those roadside boxes, I have to pay the cost of the computer systems involved, I have to pay the cost of the people running the system...

      just so that big brother can a.) fine me for going a little over the speed limit ... b.) can years hence accurately tell where I am right now or where I was on a certain date at certain time.

      You know, Bob, I usually don't fuck up bad on the road but hey...

  • Get the F out... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chia_monkey (593501) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:20AM (#6793381) Journal
    No way... Are people's liberties going to be trampled that bad? Would we have to explain every single infraction? "The truck was on my arse so I had to speed up" or "I swerved into the bus lane to miss the dog". The possibilities are endless. And that's just for having legitimate excuses for every time you "break the law". What's scarier is that this is even a possibility. This just paves the way to have video cameras mounted in every car "to ensure your personal safety" or whatever. Kinda frightening if you ask me.
    • Re:Get the F out... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malc (1751)
      I rather like the idea of a camera in my car. I travelled in a taxi recently that had one. It was constantly recording, and in the event of an accident would stop, saving the last 30 seconds, or something like that. The idea being to make insurance claims easier. I personally want it right now because there's some arse on my street who shunts people if there isn't enough room for his beat up VW van... he's made a mess of my rear bumper, but I haven't caught him in the act yet.
    • by hswerdfe (569925)
      it would be possible to filter out things like that.
      or example:
      Traveling in the bus lane for more than 5 minutes.
      or staying above the speed limit for more than 15 minutes, or failing to slow down for a speed zone.

      I totally agree with you that this would be a total bullshit invasion of privacy, I am just saying there are probably lesss problems with actually implimenting it than you let on.

    • Re:Get the F out... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by astar (203020)
      Science Fiction deals with this sort of tech application on occasion. A term that has arisen to describe it is *pervasive policing*. Fictionally, it is not described as a social good.

      I have concluded we have too many laws and the only thing that makes it tolerable is that the laws are not much enforced. Congress critters would take a different view.
    • by Tony Hammitt (73675) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:38AM (#6793643)
      Simple, we'll just have to put sensors on the dogs, too :)
    • by trash eighty (457611) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @01:16PM (#6795674) Homepage
      i have to enter a bus lane to get onto my own drive, hmm this could suck ;)
  • Sensors. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hackwrench (573697) <hackwrench@hotmail.com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:20AM (#6793387) Homepage Journal
    If they're going to be that way about it, they'd be better off having the road sensors set the speed of the car, making speeding impossible.
  • by Null_Packet (15946) <nullpacket@dos[ ]r.net ['che' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:20AM (#6793388)
    Cool! All you need to do is swipe a sensor from the side of the road, reverse engineer the signals in your garage, and sniff your neighbor's/enemies' signature, and you can bankrupt them with traffic tickets!

    There's a reason human beings do this in the US- one because it's always open to interpretation, and two- we have to have a job like traffic cop for the jerks in our society.
  • by Frans Faase (648933) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:21AM (#6793390) Homepage
    A Dutch minister has suggested the idea to install a cruse control (with speed limit) in every car. Aside from this there have been experiments here in the Netherlands with such a cruse control that would limit the speed based on GPS data and a database.
  • by ratbag (65209) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:21AM (#6793396)
    The Sun is a tabloid rag, concerned only with tittle-tattle, gossip, celebrity "revelations" and salacious pictures. It is not a newspaper and I wouldn't ever think of using it as the basis for a sensible discussion on any issue. Someone find a reference to this "story" in a real newspaper and we can talk about it.

    Rob.
  • That's why (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sgt_Jake (659140) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:21AM (#6793399) Journal
    I only own cars that are more than 10 years old. ... yeah, that's the ticket...

  • by Burb (620144) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:21AM (#6793400)
    For the benefit of those not familiar with the British press, this is the paper that brought you "Freddy Starr Eat My Hamster" on the front page. And topless girls on page 3. And such high, high, journalistic standards.

  • Heh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pheared (446683) <kevin@ph[ ]ed.net ['ear' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:21AM (#6793403) Homepage
    Well at least they are coming out and saying it. Here in the US they trick us into using EZ-Pass [ezpass.com] because without it, some of these highways are brutal to navigate. Sure, it only pays your tolls, for now. Sure, it's only optional, for now.
  • Uh huh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:22AM (#6793407) Journal
    Overreaction, as usual, by the Sun. I'm not even going to finish reading this diatribe, I don't buy it, not even for the UK. All of this is easier accomplished by roadside cameras, and has the same basic flaw - it wont hold up in court.

    At any rate, you have the right to a day in court, and to face your accuser. Unless this tattler box can show up to testify against you, your case will be thrown out.

    So once again some loudmouth says something stupid or sarcastic, and the Sun jumps all over it like its the next big story. Those guys are almost as bad as slashdot when it comes to fact checking.

  • The Sun (Score:5, Informative)

    by Graham Clark (11925) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:22AM (#6793417)
    It's a terrible, terrible newspaper with a reputation for making up half of what they print and not checking the rest.

    They also have severe disagreements with the government and are not above lying to score political points.

    This might be true, but a second and more reputable source would be better.
  • by BigGerman (541312) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:22AM (#6793420)
    ... putting a computerized spy in every police car and such!
    So if you rights are violated, you will get a fat settlement check in the mail automatically as well.
    Eventually we all will have "legal bots" fighting each other in the depths of the Legal Network.
  • by Suhas (232056) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:23AM (#6793423)
    ...I am here to take your daughter for dance.

    Sure Son, here, Take my car.

  • A grain of salt... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shoten (260439) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:23AM (#6793425)
    Keep in mind that this is a British tabloid that is doing the reporting. The genre is notorious for fluff, demagoguery, and "sports dailies" that are basically half sports, half softcore porn. I'd hope to see something a bit more solid verifying this story before I worried too much about it.
  • What a great idea! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by schon (31600) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:24AM (#6793442)
    This is great - what if you need to break one of these laws to prevent an accident?

    Say (for example) someone doesn't see you, and cuts you off in traffic - you have two options.. you can swerve into the bus lane, or let them hit you (stopping traffic, raising your insurance rates, possibly causing injury)

    I can see it now - if someone pisses you off in traffic, you just force them into a bus lane.. a month later, they get a fine!

    Yeah, that's real fair.
  • by ebuck (585470) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:30AM (#6793534)
    It would take approximately 2 hours after this passes for an entrapenuer to board and airplane and set up shop in Mexico.

    This shop would produce circumvention kits, which would be banned from import, yet be strangely available via flea markets, and some "grey-area" mail order catalogs.

    It would eventually require the continual inspection of automobiles to verify that the devices haven't been circumvented. And in the US, a car has become so much part of the identity of "being American", that people would consider even inspecting the system an attack on their civil liberties.

    But then again, should the US Gov. indicate that it is necessary because suspected terrorists could be using vechiles (aka cars) to plan their next grocery store outing, I'd fully expect it to pass with full approval.

    Cynical? No! Not me! hahahahaha....
  • Other coverage (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jabes (238775) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:41AM (#6793692) Homepage
    Some have commented that The Sun is not the world's most authoritative journal available in the ok. You're right, it's not.

    However, similar articles have been in the broadsheets over here:

    The Times [timesonline.co.uk]

    BBC News [bbc.co.uk]

    The Observer [guardian.co.uk] (this one slightly older)

  • by harryman100 (631145) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:45AM (#6793729) Homepage
    The fact that something like this has been reported in "The Sun" really isn't a justifiable reason to believe that it is at all likely to happen. I used to read quite a lot of UK newspapers (I live there) and I have seen this or a very similar story published before, and nothing has ever happened about it. I fully expect the same thing to happen this time.

    I am actually in favour of cracking down on people who recklessly break the law, but I think monitoring people's speed this way is not the way to go. For example, I know many people who would not think twice before doing speeds in excess of 50mph in a 30mph limit zone, these people could do with receiving punishment for such a thing. But IMO there is nothing wrong with doing 80/90mph along a country lane in the dark (the safest time - you can see traffic a long way off - and there is much less of it) providing, you, the car and the road can all handle that sort of speed. I would never consider doing speeds in excess of the limit in heavily populated areas. [for those of you who are not aware the speed limit on such roads is 60mph].

    If this kind of technology is going to be introduced into vehicles in this country, then fair enough, thats the way its going to be, I think it would certainly take away some of the fun of driving, but in some ways I would rather know that I am being 'watched' constantly rather than having to keep looking to see where the speed camera is hidden.

    BTW, WTF!!! is this colour scheme, its kind of maroon and puke yellow. its making me feel quite ill!!!!!

    FYI I didn't RTFA - its the sun, there's nothing to read in the sun.

  • Some concrete info. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bazzargh (39195) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:46AM (#6793751)
    Since the Sun is always heavy on opinion and light on fact, I looked up the stuff it was talking about.

    There is currently an EU wide project looking into Electronic Vehicle Identification. ACPO (the UK's association of chief police officers) is just one [inro.tno.nl] of the bodies involved:

    "Ministries of Transport of Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK, as well as ACPO (UK), KLPD (Netherlands), RDW (Netherlands), Q-Free (Norway), EFKON (Austria), TNO (Netherlands), ERTICO."

    (Hardly a pet project of Blairs then?) I think the report referred to is this one [ertico.com] which is part of a requirements gathering exercise, not a policy document. Here's a one of the requirements (Section 5, User Needs):

    "The issues of privacy, safety, and security must be clear and understandable if the public are to have any confidence in the system. ("Big Brother" concerns by invasion of privacy by authorities)"

    I don't think much of Blair and the lickspittles he has running the country just now, but the Sun is just about the bottom of the journalistic barrel, you might want to read the report and judge for yourself.
  • This is an interesting theing to debate. On the one hand, it's technically conveivable, if not necessarily viable yet. (Who's going to go back and deal with all the cars on the roads that aren't new?)

    If this were happening in the US, the question would be whether companies who would find this the most useful, such as companies who have fleets of drivers, would find it worth the public outcry. It also brings up the question- is this the direction in which we want to go? There are certainly arguments in favour- lives saved is one of them. Drunk driving is another. But from there we go back to civil liberties again. Do we have the right to unmonitored transport? Do we have the right to make our own driving choices?

    More important than either of those, this runs straight into a question of, is it right to have a fine issued without human intervention? Because some of the problems then become... what if my car was stolen? What if I'm speeding because there's a woman having a baby in the backseat? If a cop stops the car in those situations, they can offer support by recognising your car and being witness to who was driving, or in the latter case, calling an ambulance, and frequently the fine will be waived. Human crises do tend to get some laxity where the low is concerned, because other people tend to acknowledge them.

    Here's another interesting note, even beyond the question of whether a device that reports on speeding and yellow lines can report on your location under the Patriot Act.... In Vermont, at least when i lived there two years ago, it was not illegal to cross a double yellow line unless there was a posted restriction saying so. The rest of the time, the cop might get you for recless endangerment, but the yellow lines officially meant, "Passing is not recommended in this area."

    Point being, the states have enough law changes that some of those reported issues will not be applicale. Do they then get turned off? I'm treating all this as a hypothetical question, of course, and will look for the same story elsewhere before i treat it as otherwise. It reminds me of the debate over automatic-track cars, the ones which do the driving for you over an electric strip, etc. The question then was- if your car can automatically go where it's told, can there be stops to which you can't go? to which no one can go but a few select people? It was interesting then, and it's interesting now. Not enough to make me put together a tinfoil hat, but interesting nonetheless.

  • technical issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johnstein (602156) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:51AM (#6793803) Journal
    too bad that speedometers aren't 100% exact. They simply display a sorta average of your speed. If it showed your exact speed while driving, the needle would jump around much quicker. (not quite as quick as the Tach, but it wouldn't be as smooth as it is now). This means that people who honestly believe they are going the speed limit may inadvertantly go a mile or two over (esp if they are accelerating quickly, then ease off right at the limit)

    if you have GPS that can calculate speed, check it against your speedometer and you will see what I mean. (I didn't believe this either, till one of my friends used his GPS to prove it. Also, it would likely depend on how fine a resolution and how quickly your GPS refreshes... however, I am not a GPS expert by any means, esp since googling produces various opinions. some say that it's the error in the speedometer, some say it's intentional error in the [ridingaz.info] GPS [roadfly.org])

    Monitoring people, in my opinion, seems a very untrusting way to do business. It automatically assumes that the observed need to be closely watched, creating a rather suspect environment. (I won't start screaming big brother, don't worry. You can argue this without invoking Orwell)

    I don't know how the UK relys on speeding tickets as sources of income, but I am reminded of a story from florida [wtev.com]. AAA near a florida town put up signs 6 miles outside the city that warned motorists of the 'speed trap' ahead in order to keep the speeding down. The local cops said that the signs were not allowed. Their reason? Revenues due to speeders were going down. In short, people were slowing down. You would think the cops would have been happy, right? No, they were upset because they claimed that they received 40% of the town budget and 105% of the police budget through fines. So, basically, they publically stated that they wanted people to speed. yea, yea, I know that's obvious, but I never dreamed in a million years that they would actually admit it. And what baffled me further was that hardly anyone cared! Their attitude was, "Of course that's why they don't want the signs there" instead of "isn't it outrageous that the cops actually admitted that!!"

    My point of relating this story is, if the UK is simply doing this to generate new revenue, it's a very very shady deal. I think it reeks of greed and a dash of corruption, the privacy issues set aside. Also, what about those times when you *have* to speed? perhaps a car comes barralling down the road behind you and you need a quick burst of speed to avoid a collision? What about passing (overtaking). yea, I know you aren't supposed to go over the speed limit when you do that, but if you don't, passing is rather tough. I myself don't pass much, but when I do, I try to limit myself to 5mph over the speed limit.

    -John
    • by Brento (26177) *
      If it showed your exact speed while driving, the needle would jump around much quicker....if you have GPS that can calculate speed, check it against your speedometer and you will see what I mean.

      Wait, lemme get this straight: you saw the speed jumping up and down on the GPS display, and you thought the SPEEDO was wrong? Did you feel the car jerking back and forth at the time? Or could you not tell because you were so high on crack?

      You got it backwards: if you want your ground speed from your GPS, you n
  • About Time... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:53AM (#6793834) Homepage Journal
    It has always struck me as strange that:

    The speed limit here (in Toronto, Canada) is 100 KPH.

    All cars have speedometers that go to 180 KPH and higher.

    People actually drive 120 KPH on the highway

    -and-

    The speed limit is an "absolute". If you're over, you are breaking the law.

    Not only should there be sensors, but cars should have governors. The law *is* the law. If you don't like the law, vote and have your representative *change* the law.

    However, if I get pulled over for driving 120 KPH, and all other highway traffic was doing the same speed, I feel that I should be able to forward the ticket to the automobile manufacturer for criminal facilitation. Because I can't, I feel that there is a de-facto conspiracy for raising taxes. (Note: In my entire driving "career" I have had only one speeding ticking, and no other infractions. I was not paying close attention to my speed, the highway was empty, and I was ticketed for 120KPH. No, the car did not have a cruise control, or I would have used it).

    So, I not only want *detectors*, I want *governors*. Since we have the means, why should I pay tickets? The stated reason is safety (or gridlock prevention, or somesuch public good), and I presume that government officials aren't lying.

    Ratboy
  • In two minds... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @10:55AM (#6793865) Homepage
    As a pedestrian (I don't own a car, why would I need one living in London?) I think it's a great idea. Let's face it, the outrage is coming from the assholes who think it's their *right* to break the rules that are set out for all our safety and convenience. These are the retards who run up the bus lanes, park in handicap spots, double park, speed and generally inconvenience other drivers.

    With the police freed from having to book and deal with this minor stuff they can move more officers onto protecting and investigating more dangerous crimes. Why should the cops have to spend their days trying to bust these people? They know they are breaking the road code, they know there are fines, and now they want to whine about losing that ability. No sympathy from me.

    The privacy nut in me wonders about infriging uses of the technology, but with proper legislation that should be kept well under control. Think about it: a hit and run occurs in a back street at 11PM, check the records to see which cars were there at the time and question the suspects. Check the database to see where those cars are now and make sure they're not heading for the airport.

    There is the potential to abuse this system, but it also has the potential to streamline the administration of these motoring infractions. As long as they build a little tolerence into the system it will not be draconian.

  • by RevMike (632002) <revMike@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:10AM (#6794083) Journal
    As someone who enjoys driving, but at one time regularly commuted by bicycle, I think this system could be useful if properly implemented.

    First, there should be a little gray area built in. It would not be hard to write a routine that would compare specific events to your recorded driving habits and decide whether to issue a summons. For instance, if one regularly drives within the speed limit, but occassionally excededs the limit for a brief period of time in order to pass safely or avoid an unsafe driver, they should not be penalized. Drivers who regularly excede the speed limit should be penalized.

    Second, I have no quam with ticketing the owner of a vehicle. They are fundamentally (and legally) responsible for its safe and lawful operation.

    I used to live in an apartment complex near a major highway. When that highway backed up, many drivers would drive at highway speed through the streets around the complex in order to bypass the traffic jam. I have been struck twice crossing the street by people who ignored a stop sign, knowing that cops were almost never there. Anyone who has lived in an area with 1) lots of pedestrians and 2) lots of drivers who skirt the law knows the sense of danger and would welcome anything that would bring a consequence to these drivers.

  • Great Idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StormyMonday (163372) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:10AM (#6794094) Homepage
    Let's start by putting one in every car driven my a Government minister, Member of Parliament and policeman, and by their families. If that works, we'll extend it to media people and sports stars.

    If they approve after that, we can extend it to the peons.
  • ... hop in a boat, sail across the ocean, and declare their independence?

    I thought I heard that story once. Maybe today's Brits need to do the same thing, only in reverse -- put their lawmakers on a boat and give 'em the old heave-ho.

    ----

    That said, you know, I'd *really* like to disable the air bag's "black box" in my own car. Anyone know how to take one of these out of a Pontiac?
  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @11:26AM (#6794289)
    Piss him off!

    1. Steal his car one night
    2. Drive around like a madman for 30 minutes
    3. Park it back in his driveway
    4. Watch the hijinks ensue when the police cart him away.

    Be sure to wear gloves and leave no DNA. He'll never be able to prove it wasn't him.
  • by edward.virtually@pob (6854) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @12:19PM (#6795001)
    the time lag between this orwellian nightmare being deployed and the existence of blackmarket 'blinding' modifications that sever the spybot's connections to its sensors in an undetectable (to the spybot) way will be what? a week? a month?

  • by Wise Dragon (71071) on Tuesday August 26, 2003 @12:36PM (#6795201) Homepage
    Folks, this *is* the Sun we are talking about here, which is a very, shall we say, Sensation-oriented paper. So take it all with a grain of salt.

    ***But*** there are good reasons you should welcome this tech, if it should ever come to pass. One is, it's a step toward true metered insurance. If everything is recorded, we can dispense with this nonsense about traffic fines and just charge you a different insurance rate based on how safely you really drive. Good driving behavior could be rewarded, bad could be punished. Now if you are an unsafe driver, you won't like this because it you will have to change your driving habits. But good drivers everywhere will rejoice at the safer roads.

    Once metered insurance is in place, we can have cars that drive themselves, with insurance based on how safe the car drives. We can't have them now due to liability issues and potential for greatly increased traffic.

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