According to the RTA website the number of motorists in the Sydney Harbour Tunnel that exceeded the speed limit by at least 10km/hr was 63% prior to the installation of speed cameras. If we were democratic about such things then we should have concluded that the speed limit was at that time too low. More than 50% of motorists figured that a higher speed was more appropriate for their particular journey. The slightly increased chance of losing the rest of your life (due to driving fast) was obviously not as big a concern as the almost certain risk of losing a small part of your life (due to killing time in the slow lane). Obviously the concern of pedestrians wasn’t really a factor in this example.
Given the proliferation of speed cameras and electronic variable speed signage on motorways we ought to engage some technological and regulatory reform to at least make their operation and the application of speed limits somewhat more democratic. Firstly we ought to have devices that actually gather statistical data on the speed of cars along a given route rather than merely clicking pictures of those that drive above an arbitrary legal limit. And once we have that data we ought to use it to reform the setting of legal speed limits. Perhaps we could decree that if over a 3 month period more than 50% of motorists drive 5km/hr slower than the speed limit then the limit is too high and it should be reduced by 1 km/hr for the subsequent 3 month period. Whilst if less than 50% of people drive 5km/hr or more below the limit then we increase the speed limit by 1 km/hr for the subsequent 3 month period. In this way speed limits could be gradually reformed via direct democracy in action. We could call this reform “pushing the limit”.
And before you ask I should declare that I did indeed receive a speeding fine in the mail today.