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Road pricing 'back-burnered' by Brown gov't

As Mayor Ken eyes GPS governor kit

Democracy in action, perhaps; though it's worth noting that the proliferation of ANPR - if not any onboard tracking kit - seems to be proceeding unchecked.

Meanwhile, London voters in the main seem happy enough with vehicle tracking and congestion charging; but that's not all that the city government has in mind.

This notice from the London transport bureaucracy seeks proposals for "speed limiter" technology to be fitted to vehicles. The gear would include satnav, but wouldn't be intended to function as a tracking setup. Rather, the box would use GPS (or Galileo, perhaps, in future) to locate itself on a "digital speed limit map of London", supplied by the authorites. If the vehicle was exceeding the local speed limit, the box would either sound an alarm or even cut the throttle, preventing any acceleration through the legal maximum. According to the proposed spec, a dashboard or steering wheel control button would allow a driver to select warning or throttle cut-out modes - or switch the kit off altogether - as desired.

At least as it's described, the governor kit would offer no chance for the authorities to monitor users, though the box would boast a wireless data channel "to process updates to the map".

Transport for London (TfL), as operators of a considerable fleet themselves, indicate that they want the kit for their own vehicles to begin with. However, "if the initial trial on TfL vehicles proves successful" they'd be looking to "promote the technology throughout London".

Promoting a fairly expensive and annoying thing like that to private motorists might take a bit of doing, though big organisations might go for it to boost their safety record or image. TfL already use congestion charge exemptions to promote electric cars or other tech which they deem to be desirable; perhaps they plan some sort of rebate for governed vehicles along the same lines. Such ideas were mooted during a previous trial in Leeds a couple of years ago. In that scenario, it's hard to imagine that the option to turn the gear off would remain.

Presumably Mayor Ken approves of this idea. His rival in the upcoming Mayoral elections, Boris Johnson, is also known to favour at least some of TfL's recommended vehicles, on the grounds that people should be able to make their own decisions and take their own risks. That ought to put him in opposition to the planned speed limiter gear, but with politicians you never know.®

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