IIHS Plants Seed for Speed Limiters

By James J. Baxter, President

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has a fixation, make that a phobia, over speed. There is no speed limit too low, no regulation too stringent, and no penalty too great to restrain "demon speed".

With some resignation, the medieval intellects that guide the IIHS have come to the realization that painting irrelevant numbers on roadside signs may not have the desired effect, i.e. people dying of old age between the origin and destination of a road trip. What to do? What to do?!

Racking up several million speeding tickets each year, quadrupling insurance premiums, "Star Wars" enforcement schemes, pretend trials, and full page newspaper ads equating "speeders" to child molesters, and those doggone drivers just keep going faster! There must be a better way!

Let's get the government to mandate speed limiters on all cars. After all, why should people have vehicles that can exceed 100 mph when the highest speed limit in the U.S. is 65 mph?

That's the pitch that the IIHS is warming up to make to public officials. Their most recent entry is the promotion of a British Poll that claims the public overwhelmingly wants speed limiters on their vehicles. The precedent has already been set with busses and trucks, in Britain.

One of two approaches will be used by the Safety Establishment. Option one is to lobby for a 70 or 80 mph speed limiter mandate for all new vehicles. Then, after a vocal minority goes ballistic, they'll compromise on a 90 or 100 mph requirement for all new cars manufactured after a certain date. Thereafter, the campaign will focus on lowering the speed limited speed. Raising the speed limited speed will be moot. Why raise the limited speed when it's already higher than the speed limit?

Huge fines and, possibly, vehicle confiscation will be the reward for tampering with or removing a speed limiter.

Automotive manufacturers will initially object to sub-100 mph speed limiters because their sales will be hurt. A possible tactic will be to lobby for mandated retrofitting of speed limiters on older vehicles. This would eliminate the principal reason consumers would hold on to their older, unrestricted vehicles.

Eventually, the auto manufacturers will endorse speed limiters, just as they did the 55 mph NMSL, because it will allow them to build vehicles to a lower (read, less costly) standard. A recent example is Cadillac's use of a 112 mph speed limiter to compensate for a new automatic transmission that isn't up to the demands of higher speeds.

The second option will follow much like the first except for the initial volley. Instead of starting with a politically unacceptable low speed and compromising upward, they will go for legislation and/or insurance require limited speed of say 120 mph. Arguing against such a "reasonable" requirement will be just like arguing against laws that say you can only buy one firearm a month or you have to fulfill a waiting period to purchase a handgun. In fact, it will be even harder.

The operative word has become "NEED". You don't need a 130 mph car. In fact, it's illegal to drive at more than half that speed. The Safety Establishment and social engineers have done a good job of indoctrinating the general public on the concept that any activity, any service or product that is not needed for basic survival, is eligible for legislative manipulation or elimination. Personal preferences, individual idiosyncrasies, luxuries, bad habits, unnecessary risks, and socially incorrect hobbies are fair game.

Within our own ranks are those who pan or criticize certain auto manufacturers for producing extremely exotic and expensive models. What happened to the worthy concept, "If you don't like it, don't buy it." Instead, we have pseudo experts saying, "this isn't the car America needs" or, "no one needs this much power and luxury" What does need have to do with anything? We don't need large homes, big yards, fatty steaks, dogs, or cigars. Should all these things be made illegal too? I think not.

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