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Removing Speed Camera Signs Will Turn Us Into Lobotomised Road Sheep (Even Moreso)

When I first moved to this country over 12 years ago, I was astounded by how slowly the traffic moved. 

It felt like a magical land where everyone was always perfectly on time, so they all went at the same speed.

Then I got my own car and I learned the hard way about the speed cameras -- the robots turning Australia's drivers into into automatons incapable of expressing any sort of free will or humanity while on the roads. Within a few years I had racked up thousands of dollars in speeding fines and plenty of points.

Yet my driving was neither fast, nor furious. The way I learned to drive in America was to go with the flow of the traffic. Sometimes that meant you went slower, sometimes that meant you went above the speed limit because that’s what everyone else was doing. There was a rhythm to it. A kind of control.

Not here.

As I learned that the government didn’t trust me to drive at my own comfortable pace, as long as it wasn’t dangerous, I began to rely on the speed camera signs. As much as they were a reminder of the nanny state oppressing me and my fellow drivers, they helped me to stay within the speed limit while big brother was surveilling me.

And now NSW wants to take them away.

The eye is always watching. (Image: Getty)

The road toll in NSW is on pace to increase this year and the Transport and Roads Minister says that removing speed camera warning signs could save 54 lives a year. That seems like a very specific number, but okay.

The NSW government also says that speed-related accidents cost the state roughly $1.7 billion per year -- and that it accounts for about 40 percent of fatalities. (In the US, speeding contributes to roughly 26% of road fatalities.)

The government thinks that by removing the signs, it will create "a perception that speeding can be enforced anywhere at any time", and everyone will slow down. But what evidence do they have for this? We've already been beaten into lobotomised road sheep by overregulation -- how much slower can we go?

I'm all for people being safe, but driving in constant fear of being caught by a camera or an actual police person can’t be the answer. I know I don't feel safe when I'm constantly checking my speedometer, looking up and down over and over again because I'm terrified of going over the speed limit.

Why not create artificial intelligence in a car that knows what the speed limit is, and makes the car incapable of going over that limit? Let the robots force us to obey the government!

For that matter, why allow us to drive at all?

If cars are so dangerous, why leave their operation to us? Clearly we, the people, can not be relied upon to drive safely. Just as we can’t be trusted to be in a bar late at night and we can’t be trusted to understand the health risks of cigarettes and we can’t be trusted to protect our heads and the heads of our children without wearing helmets at all times.

Some have suggested that this is all about making more money. Since 2012, NSW has made $1.12 billion in fines and without warning signs, people would theoretically be getting busted more often. Of course, no one would ever admit to this. We’re meant to be assured that the money that’s made goes right back into road safety. Into education.

But where is this education? I haven’t received any of it. All I get is threatening road signs. And if education is so important, instead of fining everyone, why not send them to a class or make them watch an instructional video?

This is us. (Image: Getty)

Here’s where I’m obliged to pause and acknowledge that Safety Is Important. This is obvious. It is horrible that people die in car accidents. It is horrible that anyone dies at all. Even of old age. I realise this would create some sustainability issues, but I wish none of us ever had to die under any circumstances.

But driving is already heavily regulated in this country in a variety of ways. How much more do we limit freedom and accountability? In how many more ways can we treat the citizens of this country like morons that would run us all over if there wasn’t a sign or a fine encouraging them not to do so?

If you’ve gotten to this point in the article, you’re probably wondering if I have any ideas for improving this situation. Well, as it happens, I have A LOT of ideas.

Idea #1: Get rid of all the cameras.

No more robots watching us while we drive. Put more human police out there. I’d rather have my so-called violation determined by an actual person with the ability to judge circumstance and nuance.

Idea #2: Raise the speed limit.

That’s right, you heard me. Raise it. Or, at least, let it be known that if you go 10 to 15 kilometres per hour above the limit, you’re well within an acceptable buffer zone, especially on the highway.

More amazing ideas:

People that are driving too slowly should be forced to pull over and get out of the way. Or face prison.

If you miss a green light because you’re on your phone, you should be arrested. Or, at the very least, all the cars around you should be programmed to honk at you.

If you don’t signal when you change a lane, you should be arrested. Unless it was an accident. In which case you should take a class.

If someone lets you into a lane in front of them, you should raise your hand to say “thank you” or you should be arrested.

Rubbish trucks that collect trash during rush hour when I’m trying to get to work should be impounded.

Vanity licence plates should be outlawed.

If you stop your car abruptly during rush hour because you are letting someone out or picking someone up, whether you’re a sociopathic taxi, Uber or parent, your car should automatically be removed from the road by a large magnet. And yes, you should be arrested.

Everyone should do that Outback Salute with the finger to everyone else on the road at all times.