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Speedometers – Should they be banned?

Funny title. Serious point.

The speed broke on my MK1 Ford Focus last week which led to me driving without a speedometer for around a week until I fixed it.

What did I learn from driving without a speedo?

That it is much better if you are not looking down at your speedo constantly to see something irrelevant

Having a speedometer in a road car is exactly the same as setting a stop watch to time yourself driving to work.

A stop watch and a speedometer are both measures of speed.

Two things which are the very bottom of the list of priorities when it comes to driving on the public road.

You have safety. 

You have getting to the place where you want to get in a reasonable time frame

And then you have everything else a distant 3rd.

Measuring your speed as if it is a race is totally unsuitable for a road car.

Until March 25 1982 there was even a law in the USA that said speedos could not show more than 85mph

Which is completely reasonable. If you are travelling at more than 85mph you should be concentrating on where you are going, not measuring your speed.

Don’t get me wrong

There are gauges which you need and should be checked occasionally. Because they give you information you need.

These gauges would include things such as water temperature, oil temperature, maybe oil pressure, fuel reserves.

You’ll notice that the water temp does not show the actual temperature. It does not measure it, it tells you if it is hot, cold or normal. Because it is important to look where you are going not at a gauge

The same goes for the oil pressure and fuel. Because it is important to look where you are going, not analyse irrelevant details.

The speedo on the other hands tell you how fast you are going to the nearest mph. Why?

The speedometer tells you absolutely nothing useful and in fact it is worse than nothing, it influences how you drive even though the information it gives you has absolutely no bearing on what is going on around you.

Going back to my week without a speedo. It forced me to concentrate on my surroundings to asses the most suitable speed even more than usual & that can not be a bad thing. And instead of looking at this gauge every minute or so my eyes were 100% on the road.

Absolutely no reason to look away from the road any more.

Driving in places like Germany take you right to the edge of your driving abilities. Not because you are driving so fast but because you are spending so much time looking away from the road.

There is only so fast you can drive when so much of your time is spent looking away from where you are going to see what number is showing on your speedometer and then comparing that number to another completely arbitrary number that has no relation to the current events on that road and forcing you to then decide what you need to do to make those two arbitrary numbers match. Its a completely ridiculous and dangerous situation.

So instead of driving at a normal speed in complete comfort. You are driving slower but you feel on the edge.

The point being, using the speedo you have less in reserve to make adjustments to something unexpected and you are also driving slower. A lose lose.

What is the worst that can happen?

If speedometers were outlawed.

People will be spending more time looking at the road.

People will be measuring their speed in relation to other road users.

As opposed to what we have now where people are forced to assess their speed against an arbitrary number which bears no connection to what is going on around them

Frankly, I am surprised speedometers have not been outlawed sooner.

Speedometers are the same as modern day in car infotainment systems.

Speedometers were an optional extra from about 1910, I bet people were saying the same things about speedometers then as they says about infotainment systems these days.

People should be concentrating on where they are going not looking at a display inside the car.

People are correct now and they were correct then.

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This page was last modified May 21, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

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