Here's why Volvo's 112 mph speed-limiter is a big deal
Why buy a Volvo? Well, to many people, that answer may be slightly different than before. In the past, you bought a Volvo because it was the safest car available bar none, and not because it was fast, or exceptionally good looking.
But in recent times, Volvo has started diverting from their implied purpose in life; they now make fast cars, pretty cars, with beautiful interiors; they even have a performance division. And while I welcome this new way forward with open arms, there are apparently some at Volvo who aren't so eager.
The Swedish brand has recently announced that all of their new models (Polestar 1 excluded) will be limited to a top speed of 112 mph. And while there aren't many places on the face of the earth where you can go over that speed, even Volvo themselves have admitted that this decision has proven to be "somewhat controversial."
They recognize that people who purchase a product may feel entitled to exploit its full potential. While this is the case amongst many, Volvo argues that limiting its cars to 112 mph represents a decision taken to decrease the risks of accidents caused by speeding.
But to me, this is all part of a bigger issue. Because while yes, you should never be going 113 mph, that's not the point. Most people are approaching this with a latty da attitude, and that's a dangerous thing. Because what you are telling automakers and governments is that you don't mind being limited if it's all in the name of safety and legality.
And that's a slippery slope because it won't exactly be difficult to limit cars to say 90 mph. Because, why wouldn't you? It's not like you can ever legally go that fast, it's pointless. And soon, we'll be in a world where the cars we buy will be GPS limited to the posted speed limit. And I'm sorry, but I don't like that, but not because of some maniacal belief that "This is a free country, I pay my taxes, and I should be able to do whatever the hell I want!", that doesn't get you anywhere.
America has some of the worst drivers in the 'civilized world,' there's no training, there's no discipline, and most of all there's no infrastructure. Our country lives on a 70-year-old highway system, built to last only 30 years, and our speed limits reflect that. Why 55 mph? Well, our roads are terrible, our drivers are incoherent, and although it was merely a bureaucratic decision made years ago, it's still in place. But still, nobody drives at 55 mph, because it's too slow, and our monkey brains see that the speedometer says 160 mph, and then we just go for it.
It's like prohibition, don't take it away, just teach people how to use it. Look at Germany. They have a system of highways known as the Autobahn, where they have variable speed limits. Say it's raining, the limit will be lowered, but if the skies are clear and traffic is light, the limit will be removed. But still, drivers adhere to three strict rules: stay right, don't pass on the right, pass on the left.
And because Germans understand this, they have fewer accidents per capita than here in the U.S., all while having higher average speeds.
More to the point, we should be training our drivers, not limiting them. We should be able to drive as fast as we like, but we can't. Not because of the car's capability, not because of your capability, but because of other people. We must walk as fast as the slowest person in our society, and if the slowest person is a cell phone-talking driver who goes 113 MPH, I can see why Volvo sees fit to limit that person.
But if our government were to actually train drivers, our roads would be faster and safer. So please, don't hand a 5-year-old a blunt knife, give him a sharp one, and teach him how to use it.