Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why a Device to Restrict Speed Must be Mechanical

To retrofit current vehicles in the 220 Million Vehicle fleet in the USA, so that they could only travel at a maximum of 34 miles-per-hour, an escapement mechanism would need to be fitted, and everyone would activate it on the same day, by pulling out a strip that bring the mechanism into engagement. If it was simply electronic, it would be too easy to rig up a "on-off" device, undetectable, that would allow a person to disengage the restricting device whenever the felt like it.

Once 34 mph became reality, smog shops would go away, replaced by "new engine shops". Why carry around 500 pounds of engine, when a quiet two cylinder engine weighing one-tenth the amount, would do just fine?

Mentioned to me at the Commonwealth Club today was how politicians would regard such a proposal as an unspeakable act. Certainly, "Third Rail"-type-of-thing at this time. But consider, if you suggested to people, after Pearl Harbor in 1941, that enlisting in the Marines in 1942 meant dying by torture on a tiny atoll in the blistering Pacific....50/50 chance....who would do it? People did risk it, not because they wished to give up their life and lifestyle, but because more was at stake......
...since this is only about losing our planet as we know it, of course we all want the status quo!!!
I went to the Commonwealth's Club Event today, "Energy Innovation, Overhaul or Tweak?" and handed out the wrong URL for this blog. I handed out "", and, of course, it is only "". Shows what a little pressure from public speaking will do to the memory hardware!

Anyway, I was able to ask a question, the theme of this blog, about making all road vehicles (emergency vehicles, police, excepted) physically restricted to a top speed of 34 miles per hour.

That's physically restrained...not a "speed limit". A physical alteration to the 220 million vehicles that are in the US of A. What the good news about that is, if the USA were to show the fortitude to go through with the switch, the rest of the world would no doubt follow, in due time. In places like Venezuela, where gasoline currently sells for six cents (yes, SIX CENTS!!) a gallon, there would be a lot of headscratching....but they don't build many cars in Venezuela. All new cars, after a period, would be 34 mph (55kmph) max speed, so....

Dan Reicher, a presenter at this event, thought 34 mph was chosen because signs that said "55" as the speed limit would only need to be changed from "mph" to "KmPH". I gave him the quick rejoinder:

"You would not need any speed limit signs!!"

Nor would you need even ten percent of the current California Highway Patrol structure. See, that's the thing about lowering the physical maximum speed: the externalities, the savings, would be tremendous is ways that barely surface when one speculates about the possibilities.

Road construction is one huge finanacial area. Unknown to most economic historians, newspapers in the 1918-1920 era ran editorial outcries against paved highway construction: "Why should public money benefit a few wealthy car owners?? They don't need our tax dollars to make paved roads for high speed, when most of us don't own cars!!"

In 1917, there was one car per nine citizens in the United States. That was the same rate in mainland China in the 1990s!! Think that market is nearing saturation??? Not Even Close!!

The difference between the costs of roads carrying traffic at 60mph and over, and under 40 mph, is tremendous. In most counties, your permit fees for building a house???? Sixty percent is consumed by the road-building department.

We are not addicted to oil, but addicted to speed.