Slowing people down until they embrace EV's is a fools game.
'It's a speed limit, not a target!' I'm jokingly told by a friend who is regaling me in a story of his daily commute, one that takes him through four separate speed limits as the national speed limit road weaves its way through villages.
A particular point of contention for him is the daily hold up, also known as the 50mph driver. I tell him it can't be as bad as he thinks, only to eat my words a few minutes later. Today I have picked him up from his place of daily labour to collect his new car. He sold his van a few days ago and is buying a car, rather than a commercial, for the first time in years.
'They do it everyday!' he says as I listen intently to his woe of being stuck behind drivers that do 50 in a 60 zone, and never adjust their speed, not even when the limit changes. Driving a few miles an hour below the limit is normal, and brings about the line that I begun this story with, one that I have to admit to never hearing until today. My friend accepts that some people aren't in a hurry, they don't have a boss that sets an alarm on his watch for the very second everyone is expected to be in so he can take a head count, sadly he does. Frustration builds, but what can you do, if people want to drive a little slower, so be it. Then it happens, we reach a 40 zone, followed by a 30, breezing past quaint cottages, manicured lawns, and a pub that makes you itch for a swift pint. The driver in front, the one that has been driving ten below the limit for the past five minutes or so doesn't alter their speed once, we lose them for a minute or two, then catch them again once we've left the village and return the national speed limit. At this point, I feel it necessary to point out my own failings in life, rules set by others that make little sense frustrate me, especially when explanations are given with a shrug of the shoulders and 'that's how it is' as an answer. This is why on open roads away from children playing and dogs barking I enjoy my passion with little regard for what a councillor has decided my limitations are, some of you may feel akin to this ideology, others not, which is great, it's a free country...
There are those times though that limitations, laws, and rules really play to the benefit of all, most slower speed zones are so for a reason, 20mph for schools makes sense to me, 30mph for built up areas, yep, 40mph for areas with a road set away from home, no argument, and then the faster limits where more attention is needed on the road rather than the surroundings of it. Blowing through the lower limits at 50mph is stupid. Doing so because you pay little attention and so don't care should result in public shaming that is wrongly being reserved for diesel drivers, anything with an exhaust note, and those that blast down a country road with little to hit but a farmers fence and only themselves to hurt. Public anger is being severely misplaced, my friend tells me he's had it out with a few drivers before as they drive slow on fast roads but make no adjustment as a village arrives over the crest of a hill. The usual profanity is all he has ever got, not once has someone doing 50mph in a 30mph zone during rush hour as people walk their dogs on the skinny lane nearby admitted they were in the wrong. The worst offenders by far are those that drive boring boxes on wheels I'm told, people so disinterested in driving that more than once he has seen their phone held up to the windscreen so they can read their social media more clearly. I put it to Britain that enthusiasts (real ones, not disgruntled yobos) aren't the problem on the road, but those who carelessly drive without regard for their impact on others are. Enthusiasts in sports cars may enjoy putting their foot down when the time arrives, but not at the risk of hitting a dog, or worse. How could you ever enjoy your passion again, and yet serious consideration is being given to slowing down combustion engined vehicles and allowing battery powered cars to go faster.
giving people license to drive faster just because they have bought what you told them to buy needs booting out of public conversation never to return
My trust in politicians isn't as low as some, but they can't be serious, one of the biggest issues when driving is judging other vehicle's speed. Having two speed limits depending on what you are driving is a recipe for disaster. The latest in a long line of attempts to force people into an electric car. Some may want to drive without an engine, and that's fine, there are plenty of fine cars on the market that charge up instead of fuel up. The problem comes when you try and coerce people. If EV's are better than petrol motors, people will switch, it's called market forces, the invisible hand as Adam Smith termed it, trade will find a way. Three years studying economics did come in handy after all! It isn't just that trade will find a way, it is that consumers will pick the best answer for them, an electric vehicle fits many people very well, they are energy efficient, require little maintenance, and are cheaper to run. The people left are either late adopters - which many of us are - that shy away from the new shiny thing until it has proven itself to a wider market, or people that choose to be different. A Ferrari would make no sense on paper to anyone, worse on fuel, more to buy, more to run, costlier to maintain, and yet people love them. A tiny proportion owns them and an even smaller number does any meaningful mileage in them. So how does it make sense to talk about different speed limits. Especially since the people everyone appears terrified of are those that enjoy cars as a hobby, they drive for an hour just to find a section of quiet road, or a nearby track to enjoy their car. The binary aspect says that those that drive a VW ID4 can go fast but their weekend drive in a Golf R32 needs to be limited, it's the same person with the same driving ability, if anything the car that is better equipped for speed should be allowed to go quicker.
Sadly it appears the government has taken the saying that is echoed about Ford, 'any colour as long as it's black' and applied it to the free market. 'Any car, as long as we approve of it, although remember we told you to buy diesel twenty years ago so we might change our mind in the future, depending on the politics of the day' not as catchy, is it.
So what to do, first off giving people license to drive faster just because they have bought what you told them to buy needs booting out of public conversation never to return. It is much too like a social credit system that a communist state would come up with, if you make a decision the government likes, we give you more speed, make a decision we don't like and you must go slow.' Second, bring back simple police patrols, not speed cameras, we've all seen someone slam on their brakes at a speed camera, then continue going well over the limit once they pass. Instead just have a patrol car, looking out for those more interested in what their social media page is saying than the real world out the windscreen. Enjoy driving, all manner of it is fun, the joy of weaving a couple of corners together is unmatched in economic driving, but it has its own challenges, and getting a big V8 to read diesel level mpg figures is a skill in itself, admittedly not one to enjoy often, but when crawling through a nice village, there is merit in trying to stretch out every last vapour watching out for kids playing football a bit too close to the edge of the tarmac. Lastly, leave combustion engine cars alone, in ten years most motorists will be driving around in either battery powered vehicles, hydrogen combustion cars (let's hope they can make a V8 sound good!), and fuel cell vehicles. The ones left will likely be fuelling up their older cars with much cleaner, if not completely carbon neutral e-fuel. Leave speed alone, leave politics off the road and lastly leave your phone out of sight when behind the wheel.