Vehicle: Car: Tailgating
Gap alerter   (+4, -3)  [vote for, against]
(I know I'm going to get flamed for this...)

Right - first off, this isn't just a half-baked idea because I want to drive fast. I do like driving at a reasonable pace, but sensibly - even more so since a rather unpleasant head-on collision last year...

Many people - myself included - use quite a lot of country roads, b-roads, whatever you want to call them. Here in England, the national speed limit for these roads is 60mph (granted, some of them are dangerous at that speed, so we slow down accordingly). Many of these roads are very twisty, but almost deserted. It's therefore very frustrating when you get stuck behind another vehicle driving much more slowly than you are (I'm now talking of the people who drive at around half the speed you were doing). This happens to me very often. If there's a straight bit of road, you can usually overtake, however around where I live there aren't many straight bits.

If every car on the road was fitted with a tracking device, and SatNav which showed the position of all cars within a set radius (say, 1 mile) you'd instantly know how many cars were on the road around you and how far away they were. That way, if you get stuck (as I did last week) behind someone doing 23mph on a road where you could easily and safely travel at 50mph, although the road was twisty and unsighted, you could overtake safe in the knowledge that there's no oncoming vehicle about to give you a nasty surprise.

This came to me after a friend gave me a lift and I saw the SatNav system he had on his PDA. He was telling me how handy it was on roads he didn't know and how he'd several times known there was going to be a t-junction, roundabout or somesuch after a blind bend because the SatNav told him so. If it could show cars too, so much the better. Actually, not just cars, it would need to be anything that used the road - bicycles, horses, farm vehicles.

Granted, the roll-out period for this scheme would be several years, but more and more new cars come with SatNav as standard now, so that would help. Older cars could have the transmitter fitted retrospectively, without the SatNav option. I know this would cost money, but so do speed cameras - perhaps the Government could pay for everyone to have transmitters fitted instead of putting another few speed cameras up at irrelevant and stupid spots?

Finally, just in case you're wondering - the head-on I referred to wasn't the result of me overtaking on a blind bend - it was the result of a guy used to driving in Germany coming down a road on the wrong side and taking us both out...
-- kmlabs, Nov 17 2005

My accident
Hopefully this could be cut down on... [kmlabs, Nov 17 2005]

PRCAS Proximity_20Recogni...0Avoidance_20System
[Unabubba]'s had a similar idea... [kmlabs, Nov 18 2005]

I don't see why you would get flamed for this. It makes a lot of sense. It would be a useful addition to let you know when there are cars coming at you. But on the other hand, quite a few pedestrians use country roads as footpaths, and they wouldn't have tracking devices.

That and the idea of every car having a tracking device as standard makes me think of the film "Enemy of the State".
-- hidden truths, Nov 17 2005

I once posted an idea for a map like those in many video games, where you get a bird's eye view of the people and things around you. Seems to be just what you want in this case.
-- DrCurry, Nov 17 2005

No, you got my bun too. We have a lovely windy back road to the beach, but every so often you are stuck behind a tractor or wide slow truck and only get glimpses of the oncoming road. Your nice 40 min ride can easily turn into a two hour test of patience.
-- Zuzu, Nov 17 2005

that bend in your link does not look like a very sharp bend. what speed were you going at?
-- po, Nov 17 2005

Bro, you gotta look out for things besides oncoming cars when overtaking. Errant livestock, casual pedestrians, truck retreads, boulders, misplaced doomsday devices etc.
-- Texticle, Nov 17 2005

I forgot to add in the original post that other stuff would sometimes be on the road - in some cases this may cause an accident. I would think that most pedestrians would be able to hear that there was a car coming and move off the road accordingly. Livestock however, wouldn't.

I think (although I have no proof to back this up) that accidents caused when someone thinks the road is clear only to find a sheep or something would be no more common than they currently are, when someone gets frustrated driving so slowly (in a situation like [Zuzu]'s for instance) and makes an inappropriate overtaking manoeuvre.

[po] tbh I'm not sure - it was probably somewhere between 50 and 60mph - as you say, it's not that sharp a bend. It's blind though, so I didn't see the other guy until he was about 10 feet in front of me. Luckily there's a hump-back bridge just up the road from it and the other guy had only just set off so he was only doing about 30. It was a big bang though - the traffic cop who came out actually said that he couldn't believe we were standing there talking to him.

Could've been worse though - it was 6 weeks before my wedding, and if my wife-to-be had been in the car I'm pretty sure it would have broken her legs, as most of the impact was on the passenger side. =/
-- kmlabs, Nov 17 2005

So two cars come around the blind corner side by side, taking up the whole road (because your little digi box says its ok), at which point they encounter farmer joe on his tractor (he cant hear the oncoming cars to get out of the way), or dave and wayne on their trailbikes (more noisemakers), or farmer bobs cattle (who couldnt care less - as already mentioned), or jane and tom on their bicycles (children, more unpredictable than random number generators), etc etc etc.

And now I have to spend $500 for this transponder to install on my $300 motor scooter, my real bike, and my car, etc etc etc...

Just so you can overtake a car or two ?

Encourages dangerous driving. If you cant see around the corner, you shouldn't be on the wrong side of the road, fullstop. [-]
-- JoeyJoJoShabadoo, Nov 18 2005

[JoeyJJS] that's exactly why I thought I'd get flamed. I'm not proposing this so that we can all drive like lunatics, I have first hand experience of the dangers of driving on the wrong side of the road, as the link shows. While I appreciate what you're saying, like [Zuzu] says it's not as simple as overtaking a car or two - it can delay you by quite some time. I have seen people overtake on blind bends very often, without having any idea at all what's coming - which is far more dangerous...

As regards kids on bikes, trailbikes etc, I did mention in the original idea that anything which uses the road (and I included bicycles and farm vehicles) would need to be fitted with transmitters.

While I can see what you're saying, I really don't think it would encourage dangerous driving - if anything it would make dangerous driving a little safer.
-- kmlabs, Nov 18 2005

Yeah, you're probably right [Pa`ve] about letting the Govt get involved.
-- kmlabs, Nov 18 2005

I share your frustration regarding slow drivers, but I don't think this provides a complete solution because of the other things that can be using the roads.

If you want this system to work it will have to be universal, so government involvement will be impossible to avoid. This being the case, depend on them mandating that your GPS data be securely recorded - this would be like having a speed camera following you around! I like the spirit of the idea but the potential for misuse is sky high so [-] I'm afraid.
-- DocBrown, Nov 18 2005

I was thinking further on this today, and it occurred to me that this would also be useful on some of the roads near where I live which are only wide enough for one car at a time.

[DocB] I was thinking about the snooper aspect of it, and it troubled me too. How about this:

GPS-based SatNav, as currently fitted in many cars, so that you know where you are in relation to the roads around, coupled with low-powered transmitters with a limited range. That way you'd only know where other cars were when you were within a set distance, say a mile or so of them.
-- kmlabs, Nov 18 2005

It's a good amendment [km]but from the point of view of logging speed it's the rate at which the GPS is updated which is key. If your system updates positions at a rate which allows speed calculations to be made (which it would need to if it was to be depended upon for proximity awareness) then The Man could hook up a recorder and there's your mobile speed watchdog.
-- DocBrown, Nov 18 2005

I thought this was maybe going to be a new form of announcement on those Tube stations where the platform is on a bend.
-- coprocephalous, Nov 18 2005

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