Friday, 14 September 2007

Under-regulation on naked streets

Speaking of rolling back the state -- or at least, beginning the process of getting nanny state off your back and out of your face -- submissions are now being heard on Rodney Hide's Regulatory Responsibility Bill, which surprisingly has the support of the two major parties. So far.

Making her own submission on the Bill, Lindsay Mitchell has a good analogy on what the Dutch call “Naked streets":
In a nutshell the naked streets policy, originated in the Netherlands but adopted in some parts of Britain, involves removing road-markings, street signs, traffic signals etc. Counter-intuitively this has reduced speeds and accidents. Why? Simply because people become more careful and cautious when they aren’t being told what to do.

The ‘naked streets’ policy is a great analogy for remedying over–regulation in all sorts of areas.
It rather reminds me of a story used by the head of (I think) Chrysler to demonstrate the counter-intuitiveness of safety regulation.

Which car would be driven in the safest, most cautious manner, he asked: Car A which has air bags, ABS brakes, ride control, a roll cage, a crumple zone and every other safety feature known to man to ensure driver and passengers can pass through everything short of the second coming without harm? Or Car B, which has drum brakes, poor suspension and a steel spike directed at the driver's forehead?

Do you get the point?

1 comment:

  1. I recall a Chrysler engineer writing a paper which was published by the SAE during the late '60s, early '70s. He explained that the car makers would build what the public demanded. Hence there were already safety features being tested which would make their way into future production regardless of the absence of legislation or regulation regarding such features. Similarly he showed how the engines were getting cleaner and more efficient with each design iteration.

    Trouble was that the government set up an army of alphabet soup agencies and all sorts of regs and standards were enacted shortly after that. US vehicles got more expensive, less efficient, less desirable and performed with less utility after that. Some modles became so unpleasant they were virtualy undrivable. The regulations on fuel that the govt passed resulted in the oil crisis of the early '70s being so serious that there were real shortages of petrol. That and the imposition of economy regulations finished the US car industry as a World leader. These days we are watching its final gasps.

    Regulation does not work. never has andnever will.



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