It is now 2012 and one piece of equipment regularly lies to me. Your $300 smartphone will tell you where you are, it has a compass, a GPS and all sorts of fancy sensors. Yet your $40,000 automobile lies in your face. The speedometer never, ever shows your actual speed.
Most people assume this is a design glitch. Maybe it just can’t get the speed onto a round interface accurately. But in this day and age of electronics, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Surely, at least with electronic dashboard, the speed reading would be accurate? Actually it isn’t. Ever. And it’s not a technical issue.
By law, automobiles are allowed to lie up to 10%. Depending on the country and local variations that is. In most cases they are fined if the car ever shows less than what it is doing. Which is my point. Governments force the auto industry to err on the side of showing that you are going faster than you are so that the police can arrest you if you go to fast. And you won’t have an excuse. You can’t claim that your speedometer was showing less. It is an artificially created cushion; a widely accepted movement of reality as understood by our technology.
But since my GPS, or even simply timing my car on the motorway for a few miles shows me how wrong my speedometer is, why don’t they actually make an accurate one? Theoretically, variations in tyre size could affect the accuracy speedometer. Not much, unless you turn your sports car into a monster truck that is. Couldn’t a car company actually make an accurate speedometer? A couple of models (mainly hybrids) are pretty close already. It isn’t a technical problem. Cars are full of pixie dust. Half the speedometer is dedicated to speeds you will never attain, often speeds the car can’t even reach.
Maybe one day governments will finally do away with this parody. Law enforcement agents don’t book you for going 51mph on a 50mph road anyway. Even if your speedometer was inaccurate to a small degree it wouldn’t matter. It is still analogue so you would be hard pressed to be that steady a driver to be able to drive with one eye on the dashboard at exactly the speed you want anyway. The whole idea when driving is that you take care to be safe and fit in with the current conditions on the road. Speeding tickets should be concerned with a mismatch between driving behavior and driving conditions anyway.
So in this day of smartphones and accurate sensors, law enforcement agencies in both traffic and tax should adapt I think. Depending on the country and the state of technology, this gap between what government says it is doing and what it clamps down on costs honest people time and money. Transparency please.