November 09, 2004


Steve Bracks revives a stupid idea once popular in the US:

The Victorian government wants to restrict speedometers on all new cars in Australia at 130kph (80mph).

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks said Transport Minister Peter Batchelor would submit the proposal to the Australian Transport Council, a meeting of state and federal transport ministers, in Brisbane next Friday.

The debate over speed has been reignited by Ford Performance Vehicles' release of a turbocharged six-cylinder Falcon - the Typhoon - which is capable of well over 200kph (125mph).

Actually, even a standard Falcon can these days top 200kph. The Typhoon should run beyond 250.

Mr Bracks told radio 3AW today the plan to peg speedometers was the first step in a campaign to impose a limit on the top speed.

Very well. I suggest 300kph.

Posted by Tim Blair at November 9, 2004 01:19 PM

I had a so-called "restricted speed" car once. The speedometer only went to 85 mph. (I forget how many kilometers that is. Someone who cares do the math.) But anyway, the speedometer didn't mean anything -- I was informed that you could take those cars over their supposed "speed limit" if you wanted. Then again, it was a Ford Escort, so there was really no point in attempting to do so.

PS: I have this theory that all other countries are about twenty years behind the US in terms of policy/socio-economic culture, and the like. That means you guys are just now starting to crawl out of the Seventies (that decade didn't really end until 1983, or whenever it was when MTV went on the air). My condolences.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 9, 2004 at 01:26 PM

Pussy. Why not the speed limit of an F-111?

Posted by: George at November 9, 2004 at 01:30 PM

What's next? Volume knobs that only got to 8...

Posted by: ajf at November 9, 2004 at 01:30 PM

Geez. What are you supposed to do when a semi begins to move over on you--slam on the brakes?

Posted by: Sarah Brabazon-Biggar at November 9, 2004 at 01:31 PM

That was a dumb law when we had 80 mph (130 kph) speedometers here in the USA during the 1980s. It didn't stop anyone from speeding, but it did make it where traffic cops heard the "I thought I was only doing 80mph" excuse quite a bit. I had a V8 Ford Mustang and all the 80 mph speedo did was make it where I didn't know how much over the limit I was going. I swear I bent the needle on that thing. Of course the aftermarket came to the rescue with 120 and 150 mph replacement speedometers. The law never said you couldn't replace them. ;-)

Posted by: Jeremy at November 9, 2004 at 01:37 PM

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Seeeing as the highest speed limit on public roads in the states of Australia is 110kmh, and allowing a 20kmh buffer for petrol-heads to know how much they are breaking the law by, 130kmh seems a good limit. I would go further and actually restrict the cars themselves to 130.

I might allow an exemption for those who can prove they regularly take their cars to Eastern Creek etc. and legally drive at 240kmh+.


Posted by: Tom at November 9, 2004 at 01:44 PM

That gives me an idea. I'm sick of all this really hot weather we are having. So I suggest that we limit all thermometers to 30 degC.
No more heatwaves !!

Posted by: FusterCluck at November 9, 2004 at 01:46 PM

300 km/h? No way, there are plenty of cars which can exceed that, and do you really want the government messing around inside your Carrera GT?

If we must have an outright speed limit, I suggest 3 x 10^8 m/s.

Posted by: Jorge at November 9, 2004 at 01:49 PM

Labor governments !!!! Sheesh !!!

Dumb as Dogshit. Desperate to be seen to be doing something when they don't do anything. Victoria is going down the gurgler again because Labor have run out of Kennet initiatives. Even the left-leaning Public Servants are pissed off even though they hated Kennet. They can see that he delivered projects for the Public Service to get into but these morons are only good for making 40km speed restrictions around schools without any evidence for the need and are now creating another diversion to distract the media from their indolence and lack of imagination.

Posted by: Fluent Idiot at November 9, 2004 at 01:51 PM

There is no open road speed limit in the NT.

However, the NT is a territory, so technically, you're right, Tom.

As with everything, speed has its uses.

It could well be that accelleration to a high speed for a short time could be just what saves a life.

Posted by: citius at November 9, 2004 at 01:54 PM

Jorge 186,000 mps: it's not just a good idea. It's the law.

I remember putting my chin down on the tank of my old BMW and cranking it open at two in the morning on the Southern State Parkway in New York. The speedo needle would be flailing around so wildly I had no idea how fast i was going, Didn't really care.

Posted by: slayerdaddy:bravo at November 9, 2004 at 01:56 PM

Talk about Victoria, the Nanny State! Perhaps they can get it in time for the Commonwealth Games, and show the world what a bunch of jackasses they are.

Bracks should go back to selling pants.

Posted by: Freddyboy at November 9, 2004 at 02:02 PM

I would go further and actually restrict the cars themselves to 130.

Only if we can get the government to restrict your blog comment posting to 10 words per day in return, as well. And I'm sure we can come up with a few more areas of life that just cry out for government meddling.

Incidentally, there's a far cheaper way to restrict people's driving speed. Just let the roads go to shit. Wonder why that idea hasn't occured to Victoria's Labor government yet.

Posted by: PW at November 9, 2004 at 02:05 PM

Hopefully Mr Bracks crap won't get to us here in Queensland. And it is quite obvious that he hasn't had one of these up his arse doing 140kph with the bastard honking because I'm slowing him down. Oh, and did I mention that another one was coming towards us at the same time throwing up mountains of dust! A truly magic moment! Beauty Bracks!

Posted by: Lofty at November 9, 2004 at 02:07 PM

It could well be that accelleration to a high speed for a short time could be just what saves a life.

It's for those equipped with the amazing logic that believes that going fast can enhance safety that I allowed the 20kmh buffer.


Posted by: Tom at November 9, 2004 at 02:15 PM

The faster the better. So what if a few Australians get run over?

TonyT had a very funny piece on Australian driving a few weeks ago.


Posted by: Harry Hutton at November 9, 2004 at 02:16 PM

Why only cars? Cigarets, Grog,Contact Sports,Sex,crossing the road, flying, all and more that can get you killed or maimed.

Posted by: Le clerc at November 9, 2004 at 02:19 PM

This is what I wanted. Honk

Posted by: Lofty at November 9, 2004 at 02:21 PM

Despite the ascerbic comments I'm sympathetic to the idea, speaking even as one who sat on 140kmh crossing the Nullarbor last time. As someone said, sit on 120-130kmh on the Eyre Highway and you'll have a B-Double right up your clacker - and it's bloody frightening.

Surely with modern technology a dual-range speedo is not beyond of the manfacturers. 0-130 for duffers like me, and higher for those who want an amplifier that goes up to 11. In fact, doeesn't the new Holden have that?

Blast from the past: In the early 60s my old man had a Renault (crap car totally unsuited to hot weather driving). The speedo was a line (actually a revolding cylinder bethind the horizontal dial). It showed greed up to 35mph, orange to 60mph and red thereafter. Cute.

Posted by: walterplinge at November 9, 2004 at 02:23 PM

Hopefully Mr Bracks crap won't get to us here in Queensland. And it is quite obvious that he hasn't had one of these up his arse doing 140kph with the bastard honking because I'm slowing him down. Oh, and did I mention that another one was coming towards us at the same time throwing up mountains of dust! A truly magic moment! Beauty Bracks!

Sadly your link doesn't work. But am I to interpret that you regard it as 'fun' or 'desirable' to have these arsehole cowboys on the loose on public roads? Perhaps you should have been at
Mooney Mooney Bridge
a few weeks ago where you could have had the time of your life!


Posted by: Tom at November 9, 2004 at 02:25 PM

Sheesh, Le clerc, don't give the fuckers any more ideas. They believe government regulation can solve every possible problem. And they reckon the other side is driven by fundamentalism!

Posted by: slatts at November 9, 2004 at 02:26 PM

How many fatalities are with new cars? When I'm watching the news it's usually old cars that are involved. Speed limit old cars.

Posted by: Mike at November 9, 2004 at 02:27 PM

Coming Next - Voting machines where only the Democrat lever works because people in the red states are to stupid to pull the Dem lever.

Posted by: perfectsense at November 9, 2004 at 02:27 PM

The auto industry is the biggest manufacturing industry in the state of Victoria and the biggest earner of export revenues. And this socialist idiot puts up this crap? Lefties hate cars. They hate the freedom of choice that they represent. That's why they go for onerous speed limits and speed cameras. It's a tactic to try to shove us into smelly trains and buses and trams; public transport is the collectivists conveyance of choice. Stuff them. By the way, the Typhoon looks rather nice, particularly in rapid or mandarin.

Posted by: Craig at November 9, 2004 at 02:31 PM

The last time I saw 130 kph here in Hong Kong I was in a mini bus going through the auto toll gate on the north side of the Lion Rock tunnel. The speed didn't worry me as much as the the driver talking to his bookie on the mobile and asking him to hang on while he found the racing guide... True story.

Posted by: Hanyu at November 9, 2004 at 02:34 PM

You can actually blame Neil Mitchell for this. He was on his soap box yesterday morning about it and, surprise surprise, the government has had a knee-jerk reaction to his posturing without giving it any proper thought.

Posted by: Caz at November 9, 2004 at 02:38 PM

Fluent Idiot is dead right. Kennett had his flaws, but compare his government to the do-nothing Bracks regime. Folks I know in the Victoria arts/culture biz publicly loathed Kennett, but privately lamented his passing.

Posted by: cuckoo at November 9, 2004 at 02:42 PM

I blame the media for this one. Having been totally wrong about the re-election of Howard and then Bush, and suffering loss of any remaining credibility as a result, they haven't got anything to work themselves up about, so they give exposure to smalltime crap like this item. Expect to see much huffing and puffing about this one for the next few days, until the train drivers in Sydney go on strike; then we'll get pages and pages of even more righteous indignation/analysis/hard luck stories/ editorial thundering, etc, especially since most of the inner city luvvies hate cars and only use public transport.

I'm waiting for the SMH's next big investigative exposure: the massive jellyfish danger lurking off Bondi Beach. Just in time for Christmas.

Posted by: Freddyboy at November 9, 2004 at 02:58 PM

the speed limit in canada is 100Kph really we need to 200 or more...

Posted by: Today at November 9, 2004 at 02:58 PM

The speedo(*) on my 20 year old lead-guzzling Corolla goes to 180. Will I be required to erase the last few notches?

* The car, on the other hand..

Posted by: zem at November 9, 2004 at 03:07 PM

I dreeeaaam of a do-nothing government.

Posted by: fidens at November 9, 2004 at 03:39 PM

Oh, it's only limiting the speedometer, not the car? Spinal Tap logic--in reverse!

Here in Arizona, our highway speed limit, outside of cities, is 120kph, but even when you're going 144, you get passed a lot. The most dangerous thing I've encountered is not the fast little cars, but the semis going 88kmh passing the semis going 80.

Posted by: Sarah Brabazon-Biggar at November 9, 2004 at 03:55 PM

You guys realize if you'd had the 130 limit back in the olden times, Mel Gibson would never have gotten started, right?

Posted by: richard mcenroe at November 9, 2004 at 04:02 PM

Do you think they actually want to loose, rather than win the next election?

Posted by: Andy at November 9, 2004 at 04:04 PM

The biggest impediment to fast driving in Sydney (apart from crap roads) is first-time Chinese drivers doing 40 kph in the fast lane and who refuse to change lanes. Go back to the Peoples Republic, you thick, insensitive morons!

Posted by: mr magoo at November 9, 2004 at 04:07 PM

Ah Victoria- the peabrain doof fan who beaned me off my hired 750 Honda on Toorak Rd when I was returning from Philip Island was doing about 20kph, I was doing about 50kph; those pegged speedos would have saved me for sure! When are Vic voters sending this gerbil and his pack of corrupt, venal issue-sponges off where they belong?
(In the case of Steve Bracks, I rekon a dodgy kebab shop on St Kilda Rd would be just the spot- you want cheeps with that, moite?)

Posted by: Michael Moore at November 9, 2004 at 04:32 PM

BTW- just as well state governments have no say on Australian Design Rules- they're fruity enpough with an allegedly free-market conservative government in Canberra. Did you know if your car or motorcycle is fitted with braided stainless steel brake/oil/clutch etc lines, if it's for road use they have to be binned and replaced with rubber- this includes 1/4 million dollar Ferraris. Safety shmafety._

Posted by: Michael Moore at November 9, 2004 at 04:35 PM

Maybe Bracks could lead the way by converting the govt car pool to Russian Ladas, guaranteed not to (be able to) exceed 100kms (except downhill when the brakes fail)

Then we could see a change of govt fast tracked.

Posted by: rog at November 9, 2004 at 04:48 PM

Are you sure a current falcon can top 200 - aren't falcons speed limited to 180? Older models certainly were, because if you went faster that that you got harmonic vibrations rattling the hell out of the drive shaft

Posted by: attila at November 9, 2004 at 05:00 PM

Mate, dont get me started on those slanty eyed bastards who refuse to give way to true Aussies in traffic ok?

Posted by: Niall at November 9, 2004 at 05:01 PM

Mate, dont get me started on those slanty eyed bastards who refuse to give way to true Aussies in traffic ok?

Posted by: Niall at November 9, 2004 at 05:02 PM

Soon to be followed by a map of the US where no red can be used. Typical liberalism: all that we believe is all that can exist.

Posted by: ras at November 9, 2004 at 05:35 PM

I'm a Sydneysider who spent 3 years in Melbourne in the mid-80s. Typically Victorian was the way they handled conversion to metric: formerly 50mph zones in New South Wales became (rightly) 80km/h zones, but in Victoria they were 'rounded' down to 75km/h. (And for many years freeways that were 110 in NSW were 100 in Victoria.)

Seeing the '75' sign, a friend visiting from Sydney commented: 'What a ridiculous speed limit!'

'Yes', I replied, 'typically Victorian.'

Posted by: David Morgan at November 9, 2004 at 08:16 PM

Are you sure a current falcon can top 200 - aren't falcons speed limited to 180? Older models certainly were

Not here sport. Back in 94 I took a Falcon down the highway to Uluru and, driving along, feeling very comfortable, looked down at the speedo and found I was doing 220. Didn't feel fast at all. Of course I wouldn't have done it in the evening. Roos, you know. They can do a lot of damage to a car. Some bloke in WA got killed recently when the car he was in hit a roo and it went through the windscreen.

What really annoys me is having to slow down to 40 from 70 on one of the major roads in this town because just there it goes past a high school! Sometimes the evil me thinks that if kids haven't learned how to cross the road safely by the time they're in high school their parents should be penalised in some horribly painful fashion.

Posted by: Janice at November 9, 2004 at 09:13 PM

What is old is new again.

A similar public (press initiated?) furore emerged in the early 70's. The local manufacturers were putting some real horsepower into their "hero" models, and all hell hit the fan. The do-gooders said that the car makers were selling death-traps etc etc.

Remember the still-born Falcon GTHO Phase IV, or the Torana XU-2.

And bloody Holden are still goody-goodies. Notice how the Age only refers to the Falcon Typhoon as being able to exceed 200kmh. Bloody HSV has had models that can exceed 260kmh for the past 2yrs at least. (Let alone any number of Euro and Japanese models)

Posted by: DaveACT at November 9, 2004 at 10:15 PM

Golly! That Tony.T is SUCH a dick!

Posted by: Spanky.R at November 9, 2004 at 10:20 PM

Hey pussies, I've got this on its way out- by the time the arse of it has gone through the radar trap the cop will have finished his shift. Who needs speed when you have area? In the state where real estate is increasingly tight, this fucker eats up the same as ten goddamn Daihatsu Sirions, and could park over top of same without popping a hubcap. With a 500 cubic inch V8 I think its top speed would be described as "adequate".

Posted by: Habib at November 9, 2004 at 11:36 PM

Here in New South Wales we have a thing called the Staysafe Committee that's designed to give politicians loony ideas they can promote.

One year, the committee determined that some road accidents occurred while vehicles were passing others, so it decided that overtaking should be banned. It even proposed that all roads should have a concrete barrier in the middle to prevent passing.

Fortunately, that idea got nowhere. But they won't stop trying.

Posted by: Evil Pundit at November 9, 2004 at 11:40 PM

If you look at where accidents occur,
you'll find it's mostly in built-up areas, and at intersections,
and intersections with traffic lights are worse than uncontrolled intersections.

So, follwoing the logic of the Staysafe Committee, to reduce accidents, we should get rid of traffic lights, intersections and built-up areas.

Posted by: pogmahone at November 9, 2004 at 11:55 PM

Get rid of intersections ... yes, I like that idea! Intersections represent individual choice, which is evil (see results of recent elections for examples). There should be only one road, which takes you to the destination that the government has decided is the right one.

Posted by: Evil Pundit at November 10, 2004 at 12:12 AM

Speaking of the Typhoon...When is Tim going to get off his lazy butt and give us a proper review of the F6!? Lord knows we need one.

Posted by: Rob at November 10, 2004 at 01:39 AM

Here is a reasonable speed limit. And slogan (pilfered from somewhere else, can't remember where)

299,792,458 m/s (metres per second), not just a good idea, it's the LAW! (Speed of light, ~186,000 mph)

Posted by: bloatboy at November 10, 2004 at 03:24 AM

We get the Taurus, Oz gets the Typhoon. There's no justice.

Posted by: gary at November 10, 2004 at 06:53 AM

They have a point! I mean, I've never pegged the 130mph speedo in my '76 300D, and I've ran it flat-out.

Of course, its non-governed 77hp engine vs. 3500 pounds of steel brick top speed is 95mph...

Posted by: Sigivald at November 10, 2004 at 07:03 AM

When I visited Victoria last year, a copper friend told me that the speed cameras would photograph your car and you'd receive a citation in the mail, even if you're 1 or 2 over the limit. The tickets are expensive, and after you get two, your license is suspended.

Was my friend shitting me, or is it really that tight in Victoria?

Posted by: Butch at November 10, 2004 at 09:30 AM

Butch, if you want to see righteous anger - ask a Victorian about speed enforcement. They brought in a 3 kilometer buffer. anything over that, you were gone. It didnt matter if it was in a 100 zone or a 50 zone.

Oh did i mention that 60 zones are now 50 zones?

Or how about that 50 zones near schools are now 40 zones. 40 kilometers per hour. Its a friggin joke.

Then to add insult to injury, it turns out the 3 km margin wasnt actually true always, and they would sometimes allow more. They just decided to *lie* to the public, because letting people know how the law is enforced would encourage us to break it. Outrageous behaviour.

I wont even start on the faulty speed camera cock ups.

Posted by: attila at November 10, 2004 at 10:46 AM

As one of the (IMHO) greatest thinkers and unsung philosophers of the 20th century was wont to say -- and this applies equally to Tom as to Bracks -- "What a maroon!"

Posted by: BruceT at November 10, 2004 at 10:51 AM

While limiting the top number on a speedo seems stupid, redesigning the damn things to use a non-linear scale or at least rotating them a little would be nice.

A drive from home to work involves driving through 40, 50, 60, and 80 km/h zones. Driving to the parent's adds a few 90 zones, and to the in-laws' a 70.

50 and 70 suck because only the multiples of 20 are numbered, and most of the time is spent in 40, 50 and 60 zones which are over on the left side. (A 75 limit would be even more annoying - how the hell do you judge that without getting out a protractor and running over a few hundred pedestrians while you measure the thing?)

I'd like to see 40-90 be in the top third of the dial (maybe even to 100 or 110). And since 50 and 70 are used all the time spaced better.

Then again, I hate driving cars with digital speedos since I have to read them rather than to glance at the needle angle to get a speed estimate.

The remaining two thirds can be used to go up to 400kmh for all I care.

Posted by: sholden at November 10, 2004 at 02:38 PM

I heartliy endorse this proposition. You Aussies don't know how much fun this can get. My cousin had a Ford Explorer with a speedometer that only went up to 85 mph but the needle would go past that mark and start into the gear indicator. We would take it out on the highways and parkways and see how fast we could get it up to. After gunning it for a short time and slowing down I would ask him, "How fast were we going?" He would usually reply, "We were going 'D' but I think we could have made it to 'P'." By my estimate we were going about 115 mph. Good times had by all.

Posted by: AH at November 11, 2004 at 10:10 AM