Travelling in europe is not how I remembered it. Those days of border crossing must have disappeared many years ago but I had not driven on mainland europe for years. Flying to many european locations and further afield since the last time I drove in france some 17 years ago.
I shot across Wales and England in the middle of the night getting to the tunnel with my car before 5am. The tunnel was an interesting experience in modern tech. I had a ticket that said I may need to quote a reference number on arrival. I pulled up the the touch screen in my car and after searching on the passenger seat for the reference turned to find the screen saying my name and asking me if I would like an earlier train or would I prefer to wait for the one I am booked on?
From a few touches on the screen it was a simple process to get on the train to France. Being on it, including loading and unloading less than 1 hour.
Theoretically I could have driven from my home in Wales to my destination in Germany without leaving the car or being searched. My bladder would never have allowed this but the theory holds. I only showed my passport in England just before we got onto the train. This was officially french customs I think and some French sounding man saw the outside of my British passport and just waved me on.
On arrival in France I did stop as I had not added the GB sticker / magnet but a trip to the first roundabout sorted the driving like I had never left.
The sat nav makes us soo lazy. I am following the borrowed sat nav to Germany. It belongs to a friend who like me tends to call it twat nav as these things really do make you stupid. With no borders or signs Vodafone became my friend. I got the welcome text form Vodafone for France, Belgium then Netherlands in quick succession. Had it not been for the Belgium text I would wonder if the sat nav had the correct address in it. When the Netherlands one arrived however I became properly concerned as my geopgraphic knowledge did not have me going through the Netherlands. Before I could be concerned the text of welcome to Germany arrived making me relax back to the Harry Potter discs. The whole journey was less than 12 hours including time for food and bathroom breaks.
After a few days of work I went on to Stuttgart area to see some old friends. This was a reasonably long trip but well worth it. The driving back put me on a sunny Sunday on German Autobahns. Sundays in Germany mean no Trucks – none. Once you work out the signs and the understanding of the lack of reminders some interesting things occur. The end of speed restriction sign signifys no speed limit but it as with other speed signs tend not to be repeated often or at all till the next change.
So I am on an autobahn on a Sunday afternoon where a car shoots past me and we are the only cars in view on my side of the road. So without hesitation, knowing the lack of speed limit, I put my foot down with the intent of keeping up. We increases our speed with me a polite distance behind till the speedo says over 130. The first time this happened I felt a conscious thought to relax. I shot past many cars but was mainly on a stretch of road which rarely had more than 2 other cars at any one point in view.
I noticed concern after the first thought never repeated as an issue. I sat at around 140 on and off for the best part of the next hour. I felt very calm and knew I had reached the max speed of the car.
This, being able to drive as quick as you like, system had 2 interesting effects:
- When the limit became set back to 120, 100 or 80 regularly all (km/h), I had no issues with drastically reducing speed to be inside or on the speed restriction dictated. I had none of those feelings, of pushing above the limit frustrated at the snails pace, that I get when driving in the UK. The knowledge that I would be able to speed up in the next few miles created a feeling of content relaxation at the imposed limit.
- I stopped worrying about the speed and completely relaxed in the space between speed limits. I was not travelling more than 120 again but had no real need to as I knew the limit of the car and felt comfortable with this area of the speedo.
Would the system reduce stress or increase accidents if implimented in the UK?
Well I was priviledged. I had a sunny day with no wind and great visibility, a few hours of noticably little traffic and very importantly – no trucks. These things would be near impossible to replicate in the UK as we dont have truck bans and the only time the motorways are relatively clear of traffic is in the middle of the night.
Could the implimentation on the motorways be something similar to the outside lane is only for high speed and only between 0.00 and 5am?
With the variable speed cameras this could be implimented on a lane by lane basis with the modern technology over lanes of diffferent speeds. It could be implimented slowly with awarenes raising campaigns pointing out it is only relevant on roads with speed restrictions on changeable display overhead. This is what they do at the moment in the other direction. As more people are on the road and it become congested so the danger increases they reduce the speed for a huge distance on the M25 for exapmle to maintain movement rather than miles of stationery traffic jams.
Could the reverse of this also be true. Dont go mad but a speed of 120 could be placed over the outside lanes reducing as traffic, obstructions or conditions change.
This could instantly be added or removed if an unexpected increase in traffic occurs.I feel these things could change.