Editorial – A peek into the future

Jeff Burgar

It likely doesn’t need to be argued that when it comes to traffic safety, slower speeds reduce accidents.

That’s pretty well the argument in Slave Lake, which is in the process of cutting speed limits in most of the community to 40 km/hr from 50 km/hr.

Along with slower speeds reducing the number of accidents, injuries are usually less severe. Whether it be between a person and a vehicle, two vehicles, or a vehicle hitting an object like a post or ditch, any resulting injuries are usually going to be less hurtful with lesser speeds in similar accidents.

As the very true saying goes, “Speed kills.”

But, as many Americans and Canadians might say, as if echoing their thoughts on gun controls, “You can take my right to speed when you pry my gas pedal out from under my cold dead foot.”

As with guns, pros and cons and sayings and attitudes don’t stop people for or against.

As it happens, the whole idea of speed controls will likely be a waste of time in a few short years. Photo radar probably gone. Speed traps by highway patrols might disappear, along with the radar guns used to nab those dastardly lead-footed drivers. Forget the cash grabs and fines.

In coming years, as has likely happened in many communities, we will no longer be treated to listening to a five-foot tall elderly female raging about her latest speeding ticket. “I’m heading down to town office to throw that ticket in the faces of that **mn council who hired a peace officer.” Or no longer hear a mayor argue against citizen requests for traffic lights on major routes through the town “because you know, everything that slows down trucks is bad for business.”

Even the recent decision by Slave Lake town council will become an ancient history item.

The future is coming folks. It’s driverless vehicles.

Of course, there are problems. For their own reasons, right or wrong, few politicians want to really study the idea that slower speed limits reduce injuries. Few politicians want to study the idea that making guns illegal reduces shootings. Even fewer politicians want to study any ideas the ‘war on drugs’ is working. Or that safe injections sites are good or bad.

So study safety concerns about self-driving cars? There is already evidence driverless cars on city streets are indeed safer than humans. But not likely it will be illegal to drive your own car. Even if every new vehicle in the country next year had to be, by law, able to be driverless, does that mean people would refuse to ‘let that dang machine drive me around?’ For a bit, sure. In the end, not a chance.

Much more likely people would enjoy a ride someplace for two or three hours to ‘go shopping.’ Extra time to catch up on gossip. Read a book. Do some homework. Have a good snooze. Speeding to save four minutes to get to work? Most people would start 15 minutes earlier just to have what they will see as actually ‘free time.’

Truth is, most of the ‘driving public’ will not give a fiddler’s finger if a speed limit is 50 or 40 or 30 km. Such an idea is coming faster than most of us think.

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