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Goodbye road signs?  RSS feed

 
Sheriff
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It said in the newspaper earlier this week that Highways England are planning to abolish road sign gantries or something, and beam information to drivers' dashboards directly. They hope to have 700 miles of “smart” motorway ready by 2030 (!), and that doesn't mean half past eight.
The last time I set wheel on a smart motorway (M1/M25 from Bletchley to Dartford) it was obviously full of non‑Brexiteers; everybody was driving on the right.

Will this mean the end of twenty miles of 50mph limits for two miles of roadworks (like on the A1 between Dishforth and Scotch Corner for much of the last five years)? What does this mean for drivers of older vehicles, who might not have such a screen in their cars? Will it make it easy for people to hack into cars and tell half the drivers there's a 30mph limit and the other half they can do 80 ?
 
Marshal
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An interesting idea, but our 2001 Peugeot might struggle with this system.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Apparently it will beam speed limits etc direct to the car. It would require people buying new cars which are LAN‑enabled, or a (wait for it)


...


...


set top box.
 
Tim Cooke
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So many questions...

Will we have to pay for one of these boxes?

Will we be unable to drive on the road without one?

How will that be policed?

I expect adoption problems.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Tim Cooke wrote:. . . Will we have to pay for one of these boxes?

Of course.

Will we be unable to drive on the road without one?

Of course not.

How will that be policed?

The same way as using mobiles whilst driving is policed.

I expect adoption problems.

Never!
 
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Campbell,
I'm missing something. Why would receiving the speed limit in a different way affect the speed limit?
 
Sheriff
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In Britain, on some motorways, they have variable speed limits which are communicated by big illuminated signs over the highway. Usually the signs say "70" which means the speed limit is 70 miles per hour, but under some circumstances (I'm not familiar with which circumstances) the signs can change to a smaller number like "60" or "50". So the speed limit is whatever the sign says it is at any point of time. And the proposal, I suppose, is for something in the car to be able to recognize that number.

That's not so far-fetched, either. Just this summer I was in a rental car in England with software which could identify standard speed limit signs beside the road and figure out what the speed limit was. I don't believe the car ever acted upon that information, and I don't know if it even could act upon it.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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That's right. It is also possible to have lane closures or similar shown on those signs. When there is no particular speed limit (i.e. in theory 70mph) the signs are either turned off altogether, or read something like:-

Leicester 21 miles, 28 minutes.

or,

Drive carefully: don't drink and drive.

There are also variable speed limits in town; on larger streets in built‑areas the speed limit is 30mph, but there are flashing yellow lights near schools which reduce the speed limit to 20mph temporarily.

The most common reasons for reducing speed limits are roadworks (usually 50mph, but that is likely to change in the not‑too‑distant future) and congestion. If a motorway is heavily congested, as the elevated part of the M1 through Sheffield always is from 4pm to 6pm, they can impose a 30mph speed limit. That means it is possible that people can drive at 30. If they left a higher speed limits, that will exacerbate the congestion and the traffic will slow to walking speed. Actually, that part of the M1 is so bad the traffic usually does about 10mph anyway.
Another thing they can do is alter the number of lanes by permitting or prohibiting use of the hard shoulder. That would also appear on the dashboard display. Variable lanes have been available for a long time. There is a motorway at Sutton Coldfield, I think the A5127(M), which has no central reservation. Two lanes in the middle of the road are always closed, but the closed lanes are moved left and right depending on the direction where the traffic is heavier. Those lanes are shown by × and lights overhead, and they have been switched on and off by hand at a control centre ever since the road was built about 1972.
 
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I strongly suspect that currently many people drive at least 5 miles/7 km faster then the speed limit even when road conditions are not that good.
So would these speed limits limit how fast your car could go? There would defiantly need to be some sort of override, if for no one else then for emergency vehicles.

However would/should we care about this information being sent to the authorities when collected via smart cars or set top boxes (STB)?
If you have a habit of speeding then maybe your insurance rates should be more. What exactly would be the limits of the STB?
I do think that cars should have a "black box" which records data that can be read by the authorities when the car is involved in a collision.

On a side note.
I noticed some time ago that there is a variance of about five kph (sometimes more, sometimes less) in the reported speed between the following devices:
  • Smart Phone using Google Maps/Waze
  • Garmin GPS
  • Car's speedometer
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    Campbell Ritchie
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    Only 5mph faster than permitted? They must have some very law‑abiding drivers round your way. When I go home after a drink (about ½ mile), I am never convinced the drivers passing actually have all four wheels on the ground.

    Round here, motorway speed limits are barely enforced, only those less than the national maximum. The lower speed limits are enforced and people do get fines for exceeding the 50 limit etc. But only few. If there is a 50mph limit, rather than the usual free‑for‑all about speeds, everybody does 52mph. Since speedos usually show a speed slightly above the actual speed, that probably means 49½mph. Or maybe 53mph.
     
    Pete Letkeman
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:Only 5mph faster than permitted?


    Not only, but at least. The norm on most roads is 10 kph/8 mph faster then the posted limit.

    However on expressways, where the limit is 100 kph/80 mph, people usually go 20 kph/16mph faster then the limit. Sometimes they go even 30 kph/24 mph faster.

    As far as I know, every public road in Ontario Canada does have a speed limit, however it's not always enforced. Sometimes you get lucky and other times you don't.
     
    Paul Clapham
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    In Britain, I understand that the police allow 10% leeway over the posted speed limit before acting. At least, I was told that by someone who sets his cruise control to 77 mph.

    And on the I-5 coming into Seattle, they have installed the variable speed limit signs so that they can reduce the speed of traffic with the goal of reducing congestion. But when I went past there once, did people slow down to the lower speed limit? You bet they didn't. And so I expect they were all complaining about the congestion at the place where the freeway dumps them onto the surface streets.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Paul Clapham wrote:In Britain, I understand that the police allow 10% leeway . . . .

    That is unofficial. I did hear of somebody being fined for doing 33mph in a 30 speed limit. They probably allow more than that on motorways when there isn't a lower limit. That is unofficial, too.
    If you prosecute somebody for going 74mph in a 70 speed limit, there is a risk of them getting off in court by arguing the 4mph difference is within the limits of accuracy of the speed monitoring equipment.
     
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    Pete Letkeman wrote:I strongly suspect that currently many people drive at least 5 miles/7 km faster then the speed limit even when road conditions are not that good.
    So would these speed limits limit how fast your car could go? There would defiantly need to be some sort of override, if for no one else then for emergency vehicles.


    This seems like a "future" problem. The original post talks about sending the information about speed limits to the car's dashboard/set top display. It doesn't talk about the car enforcing it nor the reporting on it.
     
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    Pete Letkeman wrote:

    Campbell Ritchie wrote:Only 5mph faster than permitted?


    The norm on most roads is 10 kph/8 mph faster then the posted limit.


    It isn’t a norm. Norm is a specified limit. Most of accidents happen when people start introducing their own norms, their own procedures which deviate from researched and defined by responsible for that bodies norms.

    Extra 10 km/h is a fairly big difference in reaction and stopping distances. If we were to talk about 90 vs 100 km/h, that would be a 15 meters difference in stopping distance (assuming dry weather conditions).

    I’m the one who believes rules are for a real and researched reasons.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Don't get me started about Long Newton. There is a 30mph speed limit on the road from the A66 to the village, so there is a good half‑mile of road in open countryside which should have a 60pmh limit, so they can fine people for travelling at a reaonsabl speed. If there is research defining that 20mph is as fast as one can safely drive in smaller town streets, then the speed limit needs to go on town streets. But not in the open road. The same applies to the 30mph limit in built‑up areas, though that was never researched. It was imposed long before my time as sounding like a good idea.
    They had problems several years ago near Long Newton when they photographed hundreds of people exceeding the 40mph speed limit through roadwords. Until one driver went to court to appeal with the information that the camera was sited on a stretch of road before the 40 sign, i.e. where there is a 70mph sped limit. They had to refund hundreds of thousands in fines.
     
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    Just wish they would build some more roads in the UK.  We still have single lane road between the Scottish capital [Edinburgh] and the northern English capital [Newcastle].  I really try to avoid driving (or riding) anywhere near London, just too much traffic and bad driving.  
    UK speeding fines are now used to add to local government and police funds, maybe they improve road safety. 
     
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    Tim Cooke wrote:An interesting idea, but our 2001 Peugeot might struggle with this system.



    The chances of your 2001 Peugeot still running in 2030 are pretty damn small
     
    Wendy Gibbons
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    Peter Rooke wrote:Just wish they would build some more roads in the UK.  We still have single lane road between the Scottish capital [Edinburgh] and the northern English capital [Newcastle].  I really try to avoid driving (or riding) anywhere near London, just too much traffic and bad driving.  
    UK speeding fines are now used to add to local government and police funds, maybe they improve road safety. 



    How dare you the northern capital Is York
     
    Peter Rooke
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    northern capital Is York

    - maybe back in the 15th century during the "Wars of the Roses" [and original game of thrones] ;-) 
     
    Wendy Gibbons
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    Peter Rooke wrote:

    northern capital Is York

    - maybe back in the 15th century during the "Wars of the Roses" [and original game of thrones] ;-) 



    pfffft
     
    Peter Rooke
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    Best Places to Travel 2018     
    Of course the one motorway M1 ends in Yorkshire.  Its dual carriageways, and roadworks, as you continue on northward.

    However, back on topic.  Looking at a map of Europe, its quite easy to notice that most of central northern Europe is densely covered by major roads (freeways, motorways, autobahns).  Most parts of the UK lack these roads.   Maybe this should be the focus, rather than making press releases about signless roads.    
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