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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Innovative approaches to motor regulation

I recently returned from a holiday trip to the newly independent eastern European state of Molvania. The traffic jams of a few years ago have given way to almost empty roads. The number of traffic accidents has fallen to zero, and the environmental benefits are clear for all to see. I thought readers of The Actuary might be interested to know how this has been achieved.
Molvania had several government departments dealing with roads and transport, but it has recently consolidated these into one super-regulator. Following some major pile-ups, the regulator decided a new approach to road safety was needed.
The most obvious target for reform was the ‘one-size-fits-all’ notion of a speed limit. This fails to take account of the skills of different drivers, the condition of their vehicles, and the effectiveness of any controls in place. A new notion of individual speed assessment was introduced. Although the acronym changed several times, the underlying concept is the same that the speed limit for a particular driver should reflect the risks they pose to themselves and to other road users.
As time moved on, the regulator became increasingly aware that most accidents are caused not by choices of route or mechanical failure, but by human factors. Although the statutory mechanical test is still required, the regulator placed increasing focus on systems and controls around the large nut behind the steering wheel. Any potential drivers are now required to produce a detailed manual of driving principles and practices, explaining how they will in future respond to such hazards as black ice, unlit donkey carts, and stray drunks.
A process of compliance audits ensures that drivers adhere to their own manuals. These audits are making increasing use of virtual simulators to measure accurately the extent to which dynamic driver actions can mitigate the risk of accidents. To instil a greater sense of personal responsibility, the wearing of seatbelts has been made illegal.
In an effort to improve the control of human risks, the regulator has embarked on a campaign to get to know each driver intimately. This initially seemed a daunting task, with several million cars in the road. However, as the burden of regulation and compliance increased, fewer and fewer drivers chose to use the roads. There are currently 50 licensed drivers in Molvania. With some further resources, the regulator expects to place a full-time representative in each vehicle. These representatives will provide helpful advice, not only on safety, but also logistical and freight tariff decisions.
The Molvanian population has mixed views on traffic developments. Entrepreneurs are frustrated at sharply increased transport costs. On the other hand, many older people see increased regulatory involvement as a welcome return to the centralised state controls of their youth.
The website www.molvania.com provides official tourist information on Molvania. Prospective visitors will be interested to learn the following:
– Molvania is a small, land-locked republic in eastern Europe, famous as the birthplace of whooping cough. Molvania also produces 83% of the world’s beetroot.
– The Molvanian population is made up of three major ethnic groups: the Bulgs (68%) who live predominantly in the centre and south, the Hungars (29%) who inhabit the northern cities, and the Molvs (3%) who can be found mainly in prison.
– Women travelling alone through Molvania should expect few problems aside from the usual assault, armed robbery, stalking, and murder, although the chances of these happening can be reduced by avoiding certain areas after dark and not doing anything provocative such as walking down the street.
– The Molvanian for ‘Good luck’ is ThWakuz Dro Brugka Spazibo (literally ‘May God send you a sturdy donkey’).