Cartography

Tools come in many forms, but they always come hewn with restrictions. Necessarily so. Tools need to meet safety requirements, after all, we human beings are pretty flawed. But not everything is limited in this way. Take cars. A question about cars has fascinated me for some time and I haven’t found an adequate answer for it, so let me frame it, if I may.

Why do automobile manufacturers make cars that if you drove them at maximum speed you’d break almost all known speed laws? Or the same put differently: why do manufacturers continually make cars that can travel faster than speed limits?

70 miles per hour is the maximum speed on British motorways and yet every single car I’ve ever driven could far exceed that speed. The onus is on the driver to keep it in check. After all, that’s freedom, isn’t it? Strange that same thinking doesn’t apply to hammer drills and the number of drugs you can buy in a supermarket. After all, it is clearly a great thing if a car can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in nanosecond.

Levity aside, why design something that is flawed in this way and handed to us flawed beings. It’s rather like bellowing at a bull and waiting for it to come and charge at you. Oh yes, I know the answer! It’s to give the consumer choice. What choice would we have if the speed of cars was capped? Why, it would be a living prison.

It’s true that locations exist around our wondrous world where you can drive at maximum speed and not break any law such as on private tracks, the Autobahn in Germany and so on, but these places are an absolute exception to the rule: almost all roads are bound by speed limits. The average person doesn’t get to drive in such places and by handing a tool to someone where the settings exceed the legal limit mean, in my opinion, that the device is pretty much illegal from the start and you are bound to exceed it.

Cap the device and you keep it safe. Leave it without boundaries and they will be exceeded and the cost is what? Human life. And extending from that – global warming. I think that if we’d been able to cap the speed of cars, manufacturers would have focussed more on fuel efficiency. That would have helped to reduce the emission of greenhouses gases.

You’d have thought that politicians would have thought this one through a long time ago, but you know what they say: in the Kingdom of the Blind the One-eyed Man is King. We must all be blind.

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