Bruce Schneier talked recently in his blog about the fact that many security and safety measures that mean well have unforseen, often dangerous results.
The example given involves the installation of traffic cameras in England that take a picture of vehicles that go over 80mph. Well, what’s happening is that the drivers, knowing what the limit is, are setting their cruise controls to 79mph on that particular stretch of road.
“In response to automated speedtraps, drivers are adopting the obvious tactic of driving just below the trigger speed for the cameras, presumably on cruise control. So instead of cars on the road traveling at a spectrum of speeds with reasonable gaps between them, we are seeing “pelotons” of cars traveling closely bunched together at the same high speed, presenting unfamiliar hazards to each other and to law-abiding slower road-users.”
We must do our best to anticipate how people will react to controls we put in place lest we end up worse off than before we “improved” things.