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Estonia has a new way to stop speeding motorists (economist.com)
169 points by pionerkotik 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments

I can totally stand behind this idea. It’s way more equal than money. Every single person get 24 hours a day, but not everybody has €200 (or however high the fee may be) free at hand. Although I think there should be still an upper limit. Saying if you speed more than X there’s more consequences involved rather than time and/ or money.

If you give people a choice, the super wealthy mostly will pay a relatively small fee and go about their day, and you'll end up temporarily incarcerating the very poor for the same social malfeasance. (With some distribution of behaviors in the middle.) Is that better?

The main cost of a traffic ticket today isn't the ticket; it's the (much larger) uptick in insurance costs afterwards. If you could just pay $80-120 on the off chance you occasionally got a ticket, without impacting insurance premiums, I'd speed a lot more often.

At least where I am in Europe, insurance premiums and speeding tickets are completely separate. It makes sense that people who get caught have to pay higher premiums though, as I assume they are more likely to be involved in accidents.

Tickets for all violations result in points. Speeding points depend on the amount over the limit. Total points in last 3 years are one factor that goes into insurance pricing.

It's a social anti-credit system.

It is a little dream of mine to mine videos for crazy traffic behavior and sell the license plate numbers to insurers. Should be pretty simple, the uploaders even do the tagging for you. How to do that while complying with GDPR is a little nugget to be solved. I'd need a method for take down and a method for checking the vehicle hasn't been sold (that's public at least).

Probably not going to work for the same reason that the police generally won't go around and arrest someone based purely on dashcam footage: who is to say that the video Person A has of Person B driving illegally is actually real? It is all too easy to doctor videos, and if insurers/police just blindly trusted videos people find on the internet/record on their phone/dashcam/etc then it would be pretty easy for Person A to frame Person B for crimes they did not commit.

Innocent until proven guilty, not Innocent until some grainy youtube footage that kinda maybe looks like you were speeding. Police equipment is calibrated and the evidence stored appropriately for a reason.

That said, at least the in the UK, the police do use video footage from the public to a certain degree. I believe this is often used to go and "have a quiet word" with the driver in question, i.e.: <unexpected knock knock on the front door> "Was this you sir/madam? <shows video on smartphone of sir/madam driving dangerously>" and then give them a warning if they own up to it (...and this sort of intervention is probably enough to on its own without having to go any further, i.e. having a police officer standing on your doorstep with video footage of you driving like a prick and being able to "get away with" just a warning/telling off), but I do not believe that the footage on its own is enough evidence on its own since it is so easy to fake.

I agree. Thing is, most actuarial risk factors are really bad predictors individually. Combined though, they work enough for a functioning market. This would be just another factor. Don't exclude any of those license plates straight up, just ask 5 or 10% higher premiums. Some of these people will stay and pay some more, some will leave for other insurers and stop cutting into your bottom line. No such thing as a bad risk, only wrong premiums.

You can make secure dashcams that add some hashsum/crypto signatures based on all GPS signals received at moment.

That's quite general problem around deepfakes - how to generate video that's guaranteed real. Some form of DRM or blackchain is probably needed, not to anyones liking.

Guaranteeing that the video is genuine still doesn’t solve the problem that [person] != [car] != [license plate]

In my country [person] != [car] is one of the exceptions on innocent proven guilty. You are responsible for who as access to your car and it is on you to reasonably prove that it was not you driving.

Typically happens with family members.

>who is to say that the video Person A has of Person B driving illegally is actually real?

Is this ever a real concern with CCTV footage?

But sure, a dashcam won't necessarily ID the driver, just the car.

I've suggested this to an insurance company. Unfortunately keeping a list of dangerous drivers (or dangerous license plates) is a bit illegal re: GDPR and using it for pricing mandatory traffic insurance is also not doable. Pricing is only allowed to use factors that can be demonstrated to correlate with the risk the company sees in actual claims.

But one can dream :) A good thought technology for reducing anger towards reckless drivers is to assume the crazy BMW driver just had a bad case of diarrhea and needed to get to a bathroom very fast.

At least in NL the privacy authority (under GDPR) and courts (under former law) afaik have ruled a license plate is not personal information. Filming in public is legal. Insurance contracts are two party contracts where there is basically freedom to accept or not. Also no specific rules on actuarial factor, outside of 'illegal discrimination' (all pricing is discrimination). So all those flags are still green in my book. (I work in insurance.)

Thing is, doing this will get you in a shit storm so that might be the simple reason no insurtech has tried it yet. Perhaps some smaller insurers are doing it and keeping their mouth shut. No problem if nobody knows where the license plates on the exclusion list are based upon.

And a method to verify the identity of the person actually doing the driving at the time.

In NL we (mostly) insure cars, not drivers. My wife, my kids, even my neighbor or bookkeeper can drive my car and be insured. If they crash it's my premium that gets adjusted. So if someone catches them doing crazy stuff with my car, I find it quite right morally to adapt my premium. Deep fakes are a problem though.

This is the case in my country as well, it make sense that the car owner should be responsible for whatever actions that car takes if the driver cannot be identified.

Even if it is stolen it works, as you would obviously file a police report for the theft and so that would indemnify you of any crimes committed from when it was stolen.

The only issue is what happens if your bookkeeper gets drunk, borrows your car (because they know where you keep the keys) and then commits a crime?

There are more companies doing that than you think.

What makes you think the crazy driver has insurance? Or a license plate? :)

You can test it in countries that aren't limited by the GDPR.

> If you give people a choice, the super wealthy mostly will pay a relatively small fee and go about their day, and you'll end up temporarily incarcerating the very poor for the same social malfeasance. (With some distribution of behaviors in the middle.) Is that better?

I think this pilot is giving people a choice, but any actual implementation would not.

It’s probably a choice because of restrictions upon this “innovation unit”. If deployed for real, itnprobably wouldn’t be a choice.

> If you give people a choice,

I would be curious to see how/if it brings down speeding if they don't get a choice at all but just have to wait. It's not very practical but I do think it would work in principle.

that's how I read that. this experiment specifically gave a choice to study which penalty is more popular, which is probably inversely related to its effectiveness.

that is if the study is on the speeders, I'm not sure the average person wants lighter penalties on speeding.

How do the insurers get to know about those tickets?

In the US at least, it's public information. The ticket is usually a civil infraction that results in a legal judgement against you.

For the average person, this info is probably stored in a basement near a beware of the leopard sign but insurance companies will go through the trouble to get it.


"and the poor suffer what they must"

Should we make our roads more unsafe in an absolute sense out of some misplaced idea of fairness?

This is an absurd framing that presupposes roads are closed to the poor already (they're not) and that fairness is misplaced (it isn't). Wealth should not be a factor in whether one can hold a driver's license or not. Everyone pays road taxes.

We Finns have figured out how to equalise the money part as well.


The article addresses that. Apparently Estonians consider Finland's system inferior to theirs.

> Estonians have praised the idea for being more egalitarian—monetary fines are not adjusted according to income, as in neighbouring Finland, but everyone has the same number of hours in the day

I'm not sure it's actually as egalitarian as it first sounds. Low-income jobs tend to be a lot less forgiving to being an hour late for work, than higher-paying jobs.

Back when I worked in food service, being an hour late probably meant today was your last day. Now, I'm not sure anyone would actually notice. Higher up, if you're late, people will wait for you.

If a 1-hour timeout creates a split between "so I lost my job" and "so I finished an hour later", it's still punishing the poor more.

Ok, so here is the diplomatic Swede interfering in the affairs of others: why not combine the two? Pay a progressive fine or wait by the roadside.

I have a feeling that a certain class of rich person would be much more bothered by being made to wait than just paying a large fine.

They’re probably correlated with the highest incomes, so the result of them choosing to pay is a lot of extra revenue for the police (or whoever the fines go to). This could be seen as an advantage.

It's ridiculousness to me that fine revenue ends up in city / police coffers. Talk about a conflict of interest.

Does that matter? There's also a certain class of rich person that would not want to pay 50,000 euros for speeding.

So BOTH a progressive fine and an imposed wait should work for everyone then.

I like it!

That's literally what's described in the article.

Are you sure? This is a quote from the article: "monetary fines are not adjusted according to income, as in neighbouring Finland"

A progressive tax is a nice start, albeit less original. The problem is some extremely rich folk don't necessarily have a high salary.

Punishing with micro-timeouts like this is much more interesting imo.

I would like that in Germany too. Here it's fixed but if you get caught speeding beyond a threshold your driver's license gets suspended we also get points and with a certain amount of points you are not allowed to drive anymore at all.

People in the USA who are money-poor are often time-poor as well, so this may still unfairly impact the poor. I'm not sure how true that is for Estonia.

The other dimension, space. They will take away a room of your house.

I know you're joking, but removal of space already exists in the form of incarceration (limiting the space you're allowed to roam within).

Why be so classical? We could also lower your probabilities or increase your improbabilities.

But then I would get a lottery ticket

Yes perhaps but we don't all get to spend that 24 hours equally in a day so is it really fair? A poor person may have to work 2 jobs at minimum wage and still barely get by working 16 hour days. This person already has to spend most of their day working. Now for the person making millions off investments literally making making money while they sleep and only has to work 8 hours a day is it really the same for these 2 people to take a 1 hour time out? The only way I can see this system work would be ever increasing time frames each time you get pulled over and since people can't spend 8 hours on the side of the highway with no bathroom or food, they should just make people come sit in a classroom where they could also educate on the dangers of speeding. As a person who struggles with sleep, I am on a regular basis pulling over on the side of the read for a half hour to catch some sleep. This would hardly be a punishment for me and I would not be deterred from doing it again. Make it several hours long, cut the internet and then we are getting somewhere.

Ah yes, the hypothetical poor person who works 16 hour days, at 2 or 3 minimum wage jobs, can not afford public transport or a car, and depending on what's being debated, doesn't have time, money or mental faculties to register for a particular service that's being talked about (most often a picture ID).

also known as, a strawman.

The suggestion isn’t that every poor person suffers all of these, it’s that many suffer from a few. Any punishment will likely affect a subset of those people much more than everyone else.

There are millions of these people.

How is this a hypothetical person?

Agree the penalties should be compounding and increasing exponentially. Also, fine shouldn't be a fixed one, but part of your income like in rest of Scands. Then the choice is much more difficult.

Also I've recently bought new car and collected 3 fines within first 2 weeks. They weren't quick enough to arrive to change my behaviour and this would've bitten me way too hard than it should.

Except that you're not repaying the cost to society. At the very least, you owe for the time the police had to spend to catch you. At most, for the endangerment of those around you. A "time out" is just a waste.

Just make fines progressive.

I doubt that small speeding fines do more than pay for themselves. You need a bureaucracy in place for fine payment, fines can end up getting contested in court at a huge cost, etc.

Entire cities fund themselves with speeding tickets:


Conversely, for some people 200€ is peanuts, money that can throw away without a second thought. For them, it's not a deterrent.

In Japan, sober passengers get penalised if a driver is over the alcohol limit.

The limit is not high (BrAC 0.15 mg/L -equivalent to 0.03%) to start with. The good thing about this policy (as a disincentive to drunk-driving) is it is designed to socialise responsibility and blame: while a passenger can reasonably claim not to know how drunk the driver was, it makes no difference to the fine.

One could extend this idea to speed limits, perhaps. Or maybe: multiply the driver's fine relative to the number of passengers aboard, so as to diminish the guy-showing-off-to-his-mates/ girlfriend effect. If you're risking lives other than your own, pay more.

And multiply by a wealth coefficient like they do in Finland. Because if a fine is the equivalent $0.00000450 then it’s not much of a motivation.

How is wealth calculated? It's kind of hard in many countries including USA, since there is no wealth tax.

Dead simple. Bluebook or insured value of the vehicle being driven. Speed in a semi-truck, or lambo, expect to pay more than the guy delivering pizzas in a civic.

...So the rich people all buy cheap cars instead and keep their lambos at home. How does this solve the problem?

It’s a very good question which I presume has been solved in many places. Shares in public companies, stocks, property values etc.

If someone working two $8/h jobs to pay for rent and food has to pay $450 that has serious repercussions. If someone who owns a rental property for example is to experience an incentive of a similar size, then the incentive ought to be proportional maybe to 2-3% of the value of the property?

If we’re OK with poor people’s lives being ruined by a speeding ticket then maybe we could be OK with a millionaire having to sell some shares or even property to cover a similar offense.

And, the police would get their funding quotas faster ;)

Of course legislation like this is unlikely to cross the Gilens/Page threshold.

here’s a summary of their Princeton study finding that US “democracy” works only when serving the oligarchy:


This seems to work well for social drinking situations but if slam a couple of whiskeys and then come pick you up one morning you're committing a crime and have no reasonable way to know about it.

You have a choice when getting into a car with a drunk driver.

You don’t have a choice to not let a driver speed up when you are already in a car.

I think the idea here is that a drunk driver might not mind risking a fine for himself, but thinks twice about risking a fine for his passenger too.

I find it quite disturbing that in the US you have this insurance/tickets connection, it has been said clearly by many city halls and police forces that most ticketing and regulations are rigged to be just another city income stream, nothing much to do with safety or concern (just cap car speed from manufacturers you really care about safety). Glad here in Europe it's completely separated afaik.

It has very little to do with safety and it’s mostly a cash grab. Check out a company called Redflex, they operate many red might camera systems and are corrupt.

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/arizona-based-redflex-p... https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/redflex-traffic-systems-enter...

Heh. We used to use this technique in the Military Police. Speeding tickets on base (at that time in Germany) did not result in a fine. They resulted in what amounts to the person's commander getting a notification and then deciding what to do with it.

It usually resulted in a butt chewing for the service member. The military spouses tended to be less impressed by this. So for spouses we always took a lot of time filling out the paperwork.

For the spouses who proclaimed how "important" their husband was, I liked to be especially obsequious and insist that they talk to my supervisor, and make them wait by the side of the road until said supervisor could make it to the scene (or have better things to do and tell me to quit screwing around).

Young me was a jerk sometimes.

UK police forces have an option to offer drivers who speed a speed awareness training course. This costs money but less than the fine and insurance rise from the points. A friend of mine did one after being caught at 33mph in a 30mph zone. (The police never used to pull you over for that sort of error but with automated speed cameras it is cheap to detect.) The impact assessment indicates that it reduced repeat offending compared to fines. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-speed-aw...

This costs money but less than the fine and insurance rise from the points.

In some circumstances, sometimes not, even more so if you have to miss any work to attend the course.

A friend of mine did one after being caught at 33mph in a 30mph zone.

ACPO guidelines mean they wouldn't be pinged until 10% +2mph over. So 35mph in a 30. That's also the minimum speed to be offered a speed awareness course.

Just a note, the speed awareness course is not available in Scotland.

Don’t you have to report that you’ve attended the course nowadays and Insurers generally increase the premium by the same amount as if you had points?

I've taken the course. I mentioned it to my insurer, and they didn't care.

>>Making drivers wait requires manpower. The team acknowledges that the experiment is not currently scalable, but hopes that technology could make it so in the future.

Every motorcyclist who gets pulled over by a cop is morally obligated to keep that traffic cop occupied in conversation for as long as possible. My record was over an hour. Every second they spend 'supervising" you beside the road is a second they aren't handing a ticket to someone else. So I am all for this plan. Make all the cops stand beside the road for an hour every time they ticket a speeding motorcyclist. That will certainly stop all the inane tickets being handed to sportbikes doing 55 in a 50 as schoolbusses rush by at 70.

Would you still consider your 'keep cop occupied' a good idea knowing those cops could just as well be doing things which actually matter? Getting drunk drivers out of the traffic, just to name something. Is that morally ok?

Also: 55, just like 70, is also more than 50 so if 50 is the limit set, then even though one is worse than the other, both are wrong so it's a bit silly to complain about it imo. And yes I've been caught speeding myself already, also for rather small violations. Fair? That's a bit besides the point: thing is, if the sign says 50, and I willingly go over that, I'll deal with the consequences. Not complain about people enforcing them. If anything, I could complain about the limit. But that's about it.

There's clearly some context behind this comment that I think is completely missing for those of us who don't ride motorcycles, because this is just antisocial. I'd be interested to read some expansion on that very last little phrase that seems to be your justification.

I'm pretty sure the context here is particular to the intricacies of this individual's mind. As a motorcyclist myself, the only thing I've been pulled over for is going the wrong way down a four lane one-way street, and even for that I didn't get a ticket.

For some reason I like the idea. You don't speed to save money but to save time, so paying the fine in time seems ... appropiate?

I like the idea, too. One exception where it might not be very effective is in cases where the speeder doesn't consider their time as valuable vs. paying money, e.g. teenagers.

Maybe, but it might be embaressing unless it is on purpuse. You could still withdraw the license etc.

In practice the cops probably need to be able to handle teens "playing" and on purpose getting wait fines some way. It wouldn't be unmanageble.

It would be a shame if people got from place A to place B too fast.

The article quickly mentions that speeding tickets don’t have a cumulative effect like they do in other countries, but doesn’t explain why. Surely this would also make the system more egalitarian - if you’re caught 3 times you lose your licence. Doesn’t matter who you are.

Basic speeding at epsilon over the legal set point is hardly worth taking a license for. Especially when such values are often set arbitrarily.

Consider also that any three strike system will impact people who drive more miles more often. So a population of more reckless but lower mileage drivers will be impacted similarly to high mileage drivers going speed limit +/- noise.

That sounds about right. The danger one poses on the road is a function of, among other things, speed and time behind the wheel.

There are a lot of other factors that are stronger signals than the first order approximation of time behind the wheel. E.g., professional drivers get more practice and probably have fewer accidents per time or mile than casual drivers; some people look at their phone or in-car computer while driving and others don't; driving around pedestrians and bicycles is more dangerous to society than driving in times and places when the roads are empty or only have other cars (interstates); etc, etc.

Anyway, I suggest looking at three-strike drug possession laws as a good example of how dysfunctional this kind of hard-on-crime legislation is in practice.

Precisely. In Germany I could afford the speeding tickets - losing my license (for some time) would be the real punishment for me.

(Disclaimer: I don't speed)

>(Disclaimer: I don't speed)

Germany has one of the better/higher quality roads and highest speed limits in Europe, though.

Germany is also among the most congested country in europe. It is a pain to drive there, as the germans are constantly rebuilding their roads, generating endless trafic jams. A8 karlsruhe- munich has never had a day without road works in 30 years. I find british motorway better, the best being french motorway, but you have to pay quite a lot to drive them

Depends on where and when. On our road trip last year the Autobahn between Bremen and Köln was plain insane and probably the worst day of driving I ever had (my old car hadn't adaptive cruise control, maybe with the new one that'd be a little but better). The remainder, including the route Prague, Berlin and Hamburg, was easy going; even construction works were okay thanks to (regular) cruise control.

We did often drive on weekdays (but used public transportation in the three aforementioned cities P/B/H).

Traffic on the Autobahn follows quite extreme daily and weekly patterns. Pick the right hours and ypu can breeze through. Pick a wrong time and you'll have to contend with heavy traffic. Sometimes, the peak hours for traffic are a little bit odd. I have often seen the A81 between Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart packed on Sundays around 11pm, for example. The A8 between Stuttgart and Munich is regularly jammed on Friday afternoons.

Maybe we got lucky ;)

The English have pleny of jokes about their own motorways, but the also have a symphony for the M1.


I like the british one because they are mostly 3x3 lanes, with catseye all the way and very good rain drain capabilities.

They are way better than the awful concrete motorway that you can still find in germany

French ones cost a pretty penny, indeed. Yet, compared to most of the Europe, Germany has really decent roads without extra tolls.

Yes, it feels you are standing absolutely still when one of those mercs or porsches rocket past you (while I'm driving 130-140 km/h it still feels like standing still when some of them pass).

That doesn't mean one has to drive with full throttle, though :P it's just an option. I prefer simply starting the journey early enough and mostly go 130/140 (depending on the traffic) and make good use of recuperation when speed limits start or on steep downhill segments. That's way more relaxing than going 200 or more (which I could, uphill).

Are you in favour of three strike laws?

Do you think something dangerous has happened if you drive 70 on 60 when that's the speed everyone else is going and the city hasn't bothered to changed the speeds to match reality?

This wouldn't work in the USA since police are revenue driven. Safety is not the primary focus of traffic police. Their only concern is generating enough revenue to ensure their jobs and help support the coffers of the city they work for. Giving people an option to sit out a fine would cost them and the city too much.

This is literally micro-imprisoning, and I can so easily see how this can be abused. We should be careful who give the power to imprison others.

I don't know how this works in other countries, but in the Netherlands, police can nearly always find a reason to make you spend a night in jail. We have laws against public drunkenness, against "unlawful assembly", etc. It's mostly used to break up bar brawls without having to gather too much evidence.

Stuff like this only works if the police is not terribly corrupt of course. But if the police force is corrupt (or, like in the US, continuously afraid of their lives + racially biased), then I'd wager there are bigger dangers to society than the ability to make someone stand by the highway for a while.

If it’s something the drivers choose, it suddenly becomes more like they’re being paid €200 to sit still for an hour. That’s a pretty good deal.

There are many countries that apply such a “punishment by delay” system ad-hoc. Police know a fine might not hit the sweet spot so when they see aggressive or speeding drivers they don’t just apply the fine but also an arbitrary delay: you’ll hand around by the police while they do checks, re-checks, verifications, more checks. This is far more frustrating than the fines and a good deterrent for those who consider any fine chump change.

There's a difference between being delayed for procedural reasons, and between being delayed as a punishment.

Any procedural delay can be readily changed to a punitive delay on the whim of the official implementing the procedure.

Police already has the power to arrest people.

I think there is another perspective of the speeding needs. Not everybody drives in high speeds just because they want to be at somewhere sooner. Most of time it can be just the desire to feel of the speed.

For example in the some highways in the some countries, the speed average is calculated between two tolls and people resets their odometer in the first toll and if they above the limit, they pull over and wait until the average goes below the limit. So I am in doubt if it decreases or increases driving in high speeds in the long term.

> Most of time it can be just the desire to feel of the speed.

Or to not pass out out of boredom (most my friends state this as reason as well). Modern cars, especially the slightly better class ones, make hardly or no sound and do the max speed (120-130km/h in EU depending on the country) without noticing it at all if you don't stare at the instruments. I personally do not enjoy driving at all (and never have), so I want to go from a->b, not 'enjoy the experience'; I find it a boring and wasteful chore (which is why I prefer the train or mtr, but that's not available or possible or affordable everywhere, like in where I live, the only transport is hiking (which I prefer, but not always practical) or by car...). Unfortunately my place will one of the last places where self driving cars will become available (bad, erratically winding roads with many unexpected obstacles after it rains).

> Modern cars, especially the slightly better class ones, make hardly or no sound and do the max speed (120-130km/h in EU depending on the country) without noticing it at all if you don't stare at the instruments.

The other thing I notice around here is that the roads are constantly getting better: wider, better lighting, better marking, curves get straightened out, foliage & trees on the side are cut to improve visibility, etcetra.

All this never seems to lead to an increase in speed limits.

So you can be on a curvy shady narrow road in the dark and rain. Max 100 kph, or 80 at winter. Wide road, good surface, good visibility, no traffic -- max 100 kph, or 80 at winter.

I can't bring myself to understand by which logic both of these speed limits can be right. One must be horribly unsafe, or the other must be horribly slow for the conditions.

Likewise, the danger posed by a bit of speeding is completely different on those segments..

Yes, some of these speedlimits seem arbitrary, making very little sense. There is a curve outside my village where you can do 60; in the summer people miss the curve multiple times per week (luckily that results in them just driving of the road on a flat bit of land; not into a crevice). Far far less sharp curves where you could drive 60 easily, you are allowed 20-40 suddenly... Same for some high quality, wide roads where you can do 50-60 while outside the town limit; 80-100 would be fine there. The gossip (and I have no clue if there is any truth to it!) about those limits is that all places where a serious accident happened at some time in the past, no matter what caused the accident, had the limit slashed and it's not going back up.

I've never seen anyone do that in the UK. It would be illegal anyway but people don't even speed up and slow down. Which countries are you talking about?

France is one.

Speed on a long stretch between boots, go to the gas station. Average speed is ok, still quicker at the destination.

Can't particularly recommend it, but it does happen. Pro-tip: bring enough cash to pay the fine, because the police will drive you (slowly) to an ATM if you don't have enough to pay the fine.

Italy is one country they implemented it, I asked my friend in his BMW if this is the best this bad boy can do and he said with a sad Italian voice, "There's no point Tibor"

Yeah that's exactly what I was saying. People don't pointlessly speed and then stop and wait when there are average speed checks.

To be fair the UK absolutely does have average speed checks on many of its motorways.

Not just motorways they are all over the place, I use Waze on my motorcycle with a blue tooth headset and it announces them as you enter leave and shows a moving average (which I'm always way under, I don't speed but I like to know where they are because they can make cars erratic, same with speed cameras, if I get the alert there is one ahead you can predict all the cars will start braking earlier).

Honestly I'm completely in favour of both speed cameras and moving average zones, the stuff I see on a week to week basis is shocking, same with red light cameras, I wish every major to minor junction had them.

Yes of course. I never said they don't - I was doubting that people pointlessly speed and then stop and wait for their average speed to drop. It sounds implausible.

Any time I watch a fool weave through traffic on the highway I think about how after all that risk of murdering other people's children, they get maybe one extra YouTube video in the day.

And often not even that. I find a sick amount of satisfaction when I get to coast up to one of these maniacs who sped into traffic and just sit right on their bumper.

Pragmatic nordic countries drive practical solutions, however often other counties take fear driven approach, signaling that person might be endangering public safety and who know what that is worth. In Canada you can get slapped with dangerous driving fine and have your license be suspended for a year, at a discretion of a police officer.

The approach has significant downsides in the winter, esp. if there are any passengers.

Although it makes for top of hackernews, there is very little pragmatic, especially since the amount of road police is extremely limited.

I've always assumed speeding tickets are more about income than safety, since speed is a very rough measure of safe driving when you ignore the vehicle and driver skill.

This approach costs more (cops babysit speeders) and the state doesn't get paid. Doesn't seem practical from a policy standpoint.

Your assumption might be wrong, though.

It costs a lot of money to scrape people off the road and put them back together. And more if the person cannot be reassembled. Whether the state pays or insurers do (or both), it all makes for cost that gets spread across society to some degree. I don't know the exact amount a life is worth, but


Secondly, a rough metric like speed is exactly how one should interpret safety. Given a wide distribution of skills (mutually interacting driver competencies), and a wide distribution of vehicle capabilities and parameters (stopping distances, tyre pressures, safety features) and an even wider distribution of actual road-types & weather conditions it makes 'obey the damn speed limit: everybody, always' the simplest possible thing for drivers to understand, and for the cops to enforce.

This approach seems pretty cool. I assume the Estonians will publish the results either way.

so then you should advocate for a more progressive income tax, and a complete abolition of speeding tickets. not sure that most people would agree that has no impact on safety though...

Very fond of the idea. Italy does something related in the "Tutor" system that fines based on a long average speed (average measured in a long segment using licence plate recognition).

This avoids the trick drivers use to avoid a single speeding camera. The fines system is more traditional, however.

The system works because the toll roads in Italy have exclusively guarded entrances and exits.

This is awesome! 1 hour lunch break, I will pack a sandwich and a laptop, plan my trips accordingly xD

edit: someone suggested a nap too

Given how far computer vision has advanced nowadays, I would be interested to know if anyone has done an analysis of the frequency and delta of over-speeding vs the make of the car as a (not so great) proxy for how rich a person is. That might be an additional data point to consider when formulating these laws.

It is a shame we measure a symptom (speeding) rather than a cause (dangerous driving) to measure safety.

I regularly see dangerous driving: near misses; aggressive tactics that work because other drivers compensate to make safe; too close to cyclists; etcetera.

It would also be nice if we could have a way to carrot or stick "discourteous" driving.

(Yes: without speed limits I think we would all choose to drive faster all the time and be dangerous. Also driving in Australia on open road is comfortable because the speed limit is strictly enforced so there is no overtaking).

That is an alternative way to see it, I appreciate the effort. However, we shouldn't forget the reasons why we have speed limits: safety.

It is just not safe to drive 80mph in the city center, for instance. And should be just avoided.

A different story is 190mph on the highway. It can be ok under certain circumstances: low traffic, good weather, good car, your age, new tires, just an odd example.

So no, some speed limits should be enforced at all costs.

Appropriate, but it requires more active enforcement than the automated radar speed detectors with cameras and automatically mailing you the fine.

Manual speed traps are nice. Often, you don’t get pulled over for going a little over the limit, especially if everyone around you is going the same speed.

I like the idea but I think it would have a legal problem in the US. My understanding is that when you get a speeding ticket it is actually a court summons where most people just plead guilty and pay the fine. If the punishment is instead immediate without an opportunity to go to court I can see it as a violation of due process. I’m not a lawyer though.

I'm sure a choice could be given of "physically present yourself at court" or "wait for 45 minutes now".

Punishments are given only when convicted and after you have an opportunity to defend yourself before a judge, with your lawyer if desired.

This is like being put in the "naughty corner", for adults.

... and since most adults experienced this form of punishment during their formative years, it's bound to be super effective.


Interesting approach, but those struggling to make ends meet have substantially less time than the wealthy. It isn't a class normalizing panacea.

But how does the county collect revenue from this?

Cool idea but they'd never do it here (UK) because they couldn't spare the police time.

Yeah that's the problem with the overuse of speed cameras.

No decent policing of the roads - as there are hardly any police doing it - focusing entirely on speeding instead of unsafe or poor driving.

Exactly. Sometimes there's someone else on the road driving so badly that the safest thing to do is get away from them. It's much more difficult if you're on a road with lots of speed cameras and no cruise-control because then you have to stare at your speedometer.

please, oh please... pull me over and make me take a nap on the side of the road for an hour.

I only keep hearing good things about Estonia. What is it actually like to live there?

Cold and dark in winter. But it also has disadvantages...

Can we just go away with speeding in non residentials areas and make driving licence harder to obtain skill wise? There is no point in speed limits and modern cars have much better handling characteristics when such speed limits were introduced. 140 km/h is like standing still in modern executive car.

I like the idea but fear that it will be abused by people who need an excuse to be 45 minutes late, such us exsm takers who feel unprepared and could use an extra day (or 45 minutes0 to study.

That doesn’t make a lot of sense. You could go steal a bag of chips from a gas station now and get detained by the police for an hour. Would that excuse work?

"Slow is steady, steady is fast"...

I like the concept, especially if as discussed by others in the thread it were to be combined with the progressive fine system used in some countries.

The thing is, before any discussion of stricter enforcement of speed laws, we need to fix the speed limits to match the roads (or vice versa, as may be desirable in some scenarios).

Anywhere that has a "speeding problem" doesn't actually have a problem with people violating the law, it has a problem with the law being wrong. Most major traffic engineering guidebooks suggest that limits be set based on the 85th percentile speed or something similar to that.

In free-flowing traffic conditions and without strict speed enforcement, every combination of road, driver, and vehicle has a natural speed they'll settle in to. The general principle is that the speed limit should be high enough that the vast majority of drivers are not speeding, If the 85th percentile natural speed of a road is higher than desired for whatever reason, the correct answer is to redesign the road to reduce its natural speed, not to strictly enforce an artificially low limit.

Unfortunately at least in the US while these principles are in our traffic engineering guidelines they are overridden by statutory limits. Certain classes of road are never allowed to have a speed limit above a certain level. When combined with the fact that we tend to build roads to be as wide, flat, and straight as we can get away with, the natural speeds on a huge number of roads exceed the statutory limits.

I've driven a significant portion of the American Interstate system as well as a small part of Canada's highway network. I still have yet to see a single controlled-access highway where the majority of free flowing traffic wasn't traveling above the posted speed limit. Seriously, get on the highway anywhere in the US outside of rush hour, get in the right lane, and set your cruise control to the posted limit. Roughly everyone will pass you. There are a few outliers, but on the average free-flowing highway I'd be willing to bet the 85th percentile rule actually applies backwards, over 85% of traffic is ignoring the limit because it's stupidly low.


Eliminate all statutory limits, require all limits be set by the 85th percentile rule, and maybe learn from the Germans' demonstration that flat, straight, highly visible stretches of high quality highway don't really need limits at all. Then and only then should we talk about stricter enforcement.


What we really need is stricter driver training and stricter enforcement against those who are actually bad at driving. We basically hand out licenses in a Cracker Jack box and have no meaningful classifications for personal use. The license I got on my 16th birthday by driving a compact sedan through a half-ass not even parallel parking thing and then going around the block in a small town also allows me to pilot a literal semi truck pulling a 53' trailer around most of North America as long as it's not for commercial purposes. In most states those retirees driving massive RVs have no additional training or testing.

Unfortunately given that outside of a few major cities it's pretty much impossible to live a fully functional life without being able to drive or be driven it's really hard to change that. Taking away someone's ability to drive is literally taking away their freedom in a large part of the US.

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