Speeding in a Self Driving Car

Will Cars Issue Speeding Tickets to Themselves?

November 29, 2017 - I'm one of those guys who drives at least 10 mph over the posted speed limit whenever it's safe and I can get away with it. On Route 3, heading north past Plymouth into Boston, the enforced speed limit is 80; on that stretch of road, where the posted signs say "60 MPH," no patrolman tickets me and some cars pass me by, if I motor at 33% over the line. It's not so much about getting to my destination quickly as it is about going a bit faster than the flow, a form of personal relativity. Sometimes, when the road is empty, the coast is clear and no one else is in the car, I drive really fast. Some roads just beg for speed and I like to be accommodating.

Which brings me to the not so distant future when self driving cars will be a growing reality. There's a lot to like about self driving cars. Without endangering the lives of others I'll be able to text and email and watch videos while driving. I'll eventually be able to send my car on errands by itself! 

But what happens to my habit of speeding? Can I instruct my car to go over the limit? Is the government keeping track of all of this? If so, does that mean I get a speeding ticket as soon as I voice my instruction to speed?

As of today, Google plans for self driving cars that will exceed the speed limit by 10 mph; Tesla is allowing for 5. That's a hint of how the first question will be answered. The answer to the second question is surely yes, the government is keeping track... of everything. As for the third, that's a matter of public policy and it's unclear what will happen. Already, in some places, speeders are caught by sensors and remote cameras and tickets are issued automatically. Citizens HATE those systems so they aren't widely installed and the 20th century game of slowing down for patrolmen with radar guns momentarily continues. Self driving cars will make it possible for cars to police themselves and the cost savings and gains in safety will be enormous. It will be interesting to see how public policy evolves. I probably won't like it.

Here's what's clear. Self driving cars are speeding toward us and there's no limit to the changes that they will bring to our society. If you want to reserve my car for a trip to Logan Airport in 2025 send an email to mikescar2025@gmail.com. I guarantee it won't be a 2008 Grand Cherokee that picks you up.

- Mike


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