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Tim O'Brien | Sep, 26 2008 | 3 Comments

Here's a heads up, friends. Just got news that there's an Orwellian nightmare for riders brewing south of the drain, and it's likely to spread (like rabbits, the clap, and speed cameras).

Most riders will be aware that there has been ongoing debate among regulators in all states, through the Australian Transport Council, about front number plates for motorcycles - nothing of course to do with revenue raising for tollways and speed cameras... no, 'course not... (go'rn, pull this, it plays the William Tell Overture).

But now, it seems that VicRoads and TAC (Victoria's Transport Accident Commission) have a better plan: they've been testing electronic in-vehicle telematics with the purpose of being able to identify and track motorcycles.

They're doing this, they say (and here's the good bit), to "assist motorists to comply with speed limits". Quick, point me in the direction of the person I have to thank.

Now you've got about as much chance of getting a sensible idea out of the stumbling monolith that is Victoria's VicRoads, as you have from a ferret. (And as much chance of getting a straight answer.) Some of this lot couldn't hold down a job at the dead letter office.

Seems there's a note from serial clot, regulator George Mavroyeni of VicRoads, to a certain 'Uncle Damien' re the thorny old chestnut of 'vehicle identifiers'. The note makes scary, if risible, reading.

"The matter of front identification is still under consideration by all jurisdictions across Australia, but no proposal is with the Australian Transport Council for its consideration. The reintroduction of the previous metal plate style identifier is not being considered," George said.

Ok, good, front metal plates are off the agenda... but it goes on, and here's the interesting bit:

"In relation to the testing of an electronic device in some government vehicles, this is part of a TAC project assessing intelligent speed assist (ISA) devices.

"ISA is a type of in-vehicle telematics that uses GPS and/or other technologies to compare the location, heading and speed of a vehicle with an onboard speed zone map database containing the speed limits for the road network. ISA is being developed to assist motorists to comply with speed limits. It is not a vehicle identifier," George also said.

To translate that, we pulled out the butcher's paper here at TMR Central, whipped up a bit of a diagram with arrows and crosses and had a close look at things through a fine bottle of Bourbon. (See if you can follow it friends.)

Let's say you're here at 'position A' at a certain time (we'll call it 'time X'). Then, some minutes later (call that 'time Y') you've been tracked to another position, which we'll call 'position B'.

Now if that tracking shows that the time taken to traverse the tarmac between 'A' and 'B' is a poofteenth too close to the speed of light (or even just slightly quick), you're nicked my son. And it's going to set you back a gross or two of pfennigs to redeem your standing in the old licence department. But - and you may have twigged to this depending on how far you are into the Bundy at this moment - who will they send the fine to if 'the system isn't a vehicle identifier'? Are you with me here?

Where VicRoads appears to be heading with this of course, and I don't want to alarm the kiddies, is for all motorcycles and scooters be fitted with these devices at registration. If it happens south of the drain, it will happen everywhere friends.

But look, credit where it's due, you've got to hand it to 'dead letter office George' for coming up with a new high-water mark in the bald-faced-lie department: "It is not a vehicle identifier," quoth he. Even Orwell's Ministry of Truth would be proud of that one.

As Damien Codognotto said to TMR, "If you believe that, you believe in Father Christmas.

"I believe the system is being developed to collect fines and tolls from vehicles all over Australia and to track people's movements. I would have thought that such a system could not work without identifying the vehicle," he said.

No, friends, this is not a vehicle identifier. And Kylie doesn't have a great arse.

 
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