It’s bad enough that within the infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden last year there are provisions to shut down your car if a network of constantly monitoring systems agree that you’re impaired. And it’s not the impairment enforcement part of the equation that people are taking umbrage with, it’s the constant monitoring of your behavior behind the wheel in order to develop a baseline model to better detect when you deviate from the norm that’s the problem. Now, National Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is pushing to install speed cameras all over the United States as part of a new National Roadway Safety Strategy.
According to NRSS documentation, the Federal Highway Administration is looking for guidance to “promote speed safety cameras as a proven safety countermeasure” by 2024. Alongside implementing a speed camera program, the NRSS and FHWA will be taking steps to set “context-appropriate speed limits and creating roadways that help to ‘self-enforce’ speed limits.” Part of that will include re-engineering roads to slow down vehicles rather than relying primarily on police enforcement–of course, that’s where the speed cameras come in. At this time it’s unclear if the goal is simply to blanket the national highway network in speed cameras, or if the plan extends to smaller municipal roads as well.
At no point does the documentation look into more self-empowering methods to reduce driving deaths, such as improving driver’s education standards in the United States, or even creating a national standard that could potentially raise the bar of what’s currently out there. Compared to developed nations like Germany and/or Finland, it’s kind of a joke.
The plan has been conceived in an effort to eliminate all deaths on American roads. The speed camera program is expected to work hand in hand with the drive to eliminate impairment and distracted driving, which is where the kill switch comes in.
Before you go and get all pedantic and write an article of your own, colloquially it’s a kill switch, it can shut down and limit the functions of your vehicle much like GM’s OnStar system could in the event of a police chase. No, it’s not a big red button that says “KILL.”
Now, it’s hard to object to National Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and others both in the auto industry and in Washington DC for trying to “save lives” but it’s unfortunately become the de rigueur excuse for curtailing rights and freedoms. That’s before we even get into the fact that several states– Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Wisconsin–do not allow speed cameras. On the flip side, there are currently 19 states that do employ speed cameras in some form.
It’s unclear just how much of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill will be allocated to unify all states under one national speed camera strategy, but you can be sure that once the money starts flowing it certainly won’t stop.