Spotting the signs on road to reality

3rd February 2006 at 00:00
or a short time, I dallied with the idea of making my website more about teaching and less about old cars. Indeed, I even toyed with the conceit of archiving TES Scotland articles there, perhaps read aloud by me and made available in MP3 or streamed video format.

While I rightly knocked that one on the head very quickly, I do wonder if it would be wise to make my last column available online, in a form that I had actually taken time to proofread. I'm not sure that I understood it, and I wrote the piece.

One thing I did do on my site was to propose a spoof anti-speed camera campaign, where we cut off all revenue from GATSOs by driving around "not breaking the speed limit". Unfortunately, some web-surfers suffering from an irony deficiency did not appreciate the point I was making, and sent me the email equivalent of a green-ink letter, offering to join my campaign and bring along their own spray cans and angle-grinders.

A couple of villages near me have road signs that sense speed and flash up a warning if you are entering a built-up area at more than 30mph. If you enter a built-up area at under 30, they don't do anything at all.

Your only way to get a reaction is to break the law. Imagine if these signs were designed using modern behaviour-management concepts. Bowl into Carnwath at 35mph and the sign ignores you. Cruise in at 30 or under and a message flashes up complimenting you on your safe driving.

"What about the ned in the Corsa or the ratted exec in the 5-series that screams in at 60mph?" I hear you ask. Personally, I'd favour the road opening up to reveal a tunnel that conveys the offender directly to the front desk of the local polis station, but I'm not convinced that it's technically feasible.

What would be possible, using number-plate recognition technology and a link to the DVLA computer, would be to record the registrations of minor offenders. Should these drivers then approach the next sign along the highway at a more sensible speed, that sign could praise them by name for better driving.

Could we have a system where automated signs put good driving points on to your licence? Drivers could pick up small prizes at filling stations or get reduced insurance and, at the end of the year, the best ones might be given enough free fuel for a trip to Alton Towers.

No, you're right. What works in the classroom won't necessarily work on the road. I don't think I'll even bother putting these ideas on my web pages.

Gregor Steele hasn't got around to producing a web page about his Kia Shuma yet.

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