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Speed governors for all vehicles!

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Folks, stand up and applaud this. Read in Biz-standard this morning that Central government is thinking about making speed governors mandatory in all vehicles. I have always wondered, why make cars that do 150 kmph when such speeds are not legal anywhere in the country. And why is it that the push for speed governors was so far being made only for commercial vehicles?

I think just the way mobile phone technology was a leapfrog solution to help increase teledensity, technology can help us with solutions for traffic management. Think of this for example.

  • Imagine 'dynamic' speed governors (DSG - pardon me for a new acronym) made mandatory in all vehicles
  • Lets say the speed limit in the DSG can be reset or activated wirelessly. The speed controllers can be installed along with the traffic lights or toll gates, these are usually the spots where speed limits change.
  • So now, what do have here? Sample these:
    • Traffic lights can have these controllers that set the limit to 40 as you go under it
    • Tollgate to NICE Peripheral road can have a controller that sets it to 80
    • Hebbal flyover can have one that sets it to 70 as you go north, and to 45 as you come south.
  • Of course, there would be hackers and violators. But you would no longer need to prove the guy was driving over the limit. Anytime you stop a car, and find that the DSG's limit was more than what would be right for a stretch, you just slap a fine regardless of the speed at which the offender was spotted and caught.

How does it sound? Technically speaking, to the best of my knowledge, such a solution is possible. Making it mandatory in all new vehicles will bring the prices down to reasonable levels. A patent search for term "dynamic speed governor" returned this entry. but its not exactly what I have in mind. The wireless control aspect is missing. But I wont be surprised if similar solutions exist in the market. If not, then no kidding, I am willing to build one!

As the news article says, this would add some cost to the vehicles:

Passenger car prices could increase by Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 if Parliament approves a transport ministry proposal to amend the Motor Vehicles Act to extend the use of speed governors, currently restricted to commercial vehicles, to all vehicles.

Well worth it. As it is, we don't pay the full cost associated with maintaining and operating our vehicles. The article ends with a mention of one such cost:

The implementation of speed governors has become a contentious issue as road accidents account for over 30 per cent of the total deaths in the country. In 2006, the death toll had crossed over 100,000, one of the highest in the world. According to economists the social cost of such a high casualty rate is over Rs 1,50,000 crore.

Rs 1,50,000 crore, well, hope they have solid backing for that number!!


shas3n's picture

I for one...

157 users have liked.
... welcome our speedgoverning overlords :) OK, seriously, I dont think governors will solve the problem. If I understand correctly, the reason for this is to reduce road casualities. I believe that the solution for this can be much simpler than introducing governors in all vehicles. Make the roads better, invest it stricter enforcement, makes fines/punishment harder, invest in stricter driver trainin and licensing. This will be much easier and cheper than installing governors in all vehicles. And those 1,50,000 crores that are being taled about, can be put to better use by implementing above. Making governors mandetory seems like more of curing the symptoms than disease. What next? Mandetory to make wheels square since round wheels make vehicles run too fast? I think the government should instead try to focus on solving the root cause of this. Secondly, how reasonable it is to penalise 100% vehicle population for the fault of a small number of vehicle owners who exceed safe speed while driving? Again, stricter law enforcement might be more effective and cheaper. Coming to DSG, I am sure there is a technological solution for everything. But again, I reckon that cost and complexity of building such a huge infrastructure is much more than doing things I mentioned above. On the technical side, governing vehicle speeds is relatively easy on large diesel vehicles and new generation cars that are controlled by ECU (Engine Control Units - Basically onboard computer that manages the engine). But it is not going to be a trivial matter to fit it on older vehicles. The diesel vehicles intrinsicly have a governor in them but the petrol ones do not. The older vehicles do not have the necessary sensors to monitor and control speed automatically. I am surely the one who is yet to be conviced with the logic behind this. BTW, does anyone know at what speed these governors' limits will be set to? -Shastri


narayan82's picture

enforcement is the governer

170 users have liked.
The Cameras and other gadgets do govern speed - and these should be a better governer as they generate income! What we need a governer on is mileage! Why do we allow fuel guzzlers to be sold in the market?
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
amaku's picture

Governer .,,

155 users have liked.

I honestly believe that the best governer is one that hits the pocket book hard. Some tried and true approaches that seem to work in many countries:

1. registration fees tied directly to engine displacement, and weight. I'm not sure if vehicle registration needs to be renewed annually in India. If it needs to be it will work even better, one has to pay for his sins on a regular basis.

2. stringent testing (written and driving) before issuing DLs.

3. strict enforcement of laws, points system for all violations, maintained by the RTO and shared with insurance companies. Every point 'earned' will cost the driver in fines and increased insurance premiums up to a point when they lose driving privileges.

It'll take a while but will be a far more effective speed governer. People will always find ways to disable and bypass most installed equipment.


ramesh_mbabu's picture

OMG- You get the rulers you elect/select

159 users have liked.

They are testing if tying the horse behind the cart helps them in any way :) I remember reading about a rule that was in force in Britain around the time Motorised Vehicles were introduced. A man should run ahead of the vehicle with a read flag or a ringing bell ( Bad memory, am searching for a link) to warn other people & horse carts on the road. That rule looks very funny now, here 21st Century India is going back to those days. Hope our enlightened Rulers/Babus do not read this rule!!!


Here is the link to the now archaic rule :) 


Photoyogi's picture

Speed governers -- ummm think think.

147 users have liked.
Silkboard, I wanted to reply on this thread and say "wow" much earlier but held back to gather my thoughts. My intention is not to just poke holes at this idea but to provide some solutions or directions to the solution. The RTO regulation is that the life cycle of a motor vehicle is about 15 years? After which we need to get a fitness certificate (FC) again. Which means to say the older vehicles will continue plying on the road and create sufficient traffic hazards. The side effect of this is that the older vehicles will now have a better resale value (Darn! who likes to have speed governors!) Even if we do have speed regulating devices in my own frustration what prohibits me from jumping lanes? What stops me from mowing down that pedestrian? So the truth is that we have to look at the problem on hand from a different angle. I have always said and I run the risk of repeating myself. "Technology cannot solve social problems" Speeding / reckless driving / not observing lane discipline are social problems, The solution lies in effective jurisdiction, stronger laws that will instill the fear of being fined heavily or have the license canceled or the vehicle impounded for a week or so. Hey hey! just realised that if the Traffic police cant increase the fines, can they not just impound the offenders vehicle for a week-10 days that itself is mental punishment enough. Just imagine my BMW ;-) in the parking lot beyond Devanahalli and i need to go in person to pick it up after a week! All this for jumping a signal! -- Praveen Sundaram AkA PhotoYogi

-- PhotoYogi

Ravi_D's picture

Sad state of affairs...

163 users have liked.
This seems to support the argument that we, the people, can only be controlled with a stick in hand. Novel idea, but I think as a country, we need to look in the mirror and see what we are and what we want to be. Answers could be clearer then.There can only be so many real-world brake-failures. It is only a gut feeling and I have no data to support it - but - I think a overwhelming majority of accidents are due to our own carelessness. Be it careless driving, careless road design, careless implementation, careless digging, careless parking, careless walking, careless fill-in-with-whatever-we-do. Governors or no governors, carelessness cannot be controlled. If you ever travelled, you know what I mean. No one seems to care for the other guy.

And when I refer to 'our' or 'us' above, I mean all of us, including the government. Some of 'us' work for and form the government.

I think we would be better off getting everyone to understand what humanity, compassion, democracy, rights and duties of a citizen mean! But that is boring. Is sort of a once-and-for-all-solution. Has no charisma. Doesn't get money in anyone's pocket.

Just couldn't stop venting when I saw this post. Let me stop before you guys want to ram my car with a JCB! 


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