Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Carzonrent Myles new 100kmph speed limit- analysis and experience!

Few months ago, when Shande told me about a 100kmph speed limit induced by Carzonrent, I couldn’t believe it. Carzonrent never had any restrictive rules like Zoomcar- I pay a daily rent for the car, any damage to the car is my liability and I was free to use the car as I please, provided I return it with full tank fuel and without any damages. Now the newly introduced speed restriction is impractical and inhibitive to practical usage of the car.

This time when I took Figo on rent from Carzonrent for my South India trip, I had to comply with this ‘rule’. I know some of you feel 100kmph is good enough or that is more than the rule set by government of India for max speed (80kmph). I find these speed limit logic is a double standard.
  • If 100kmph is the max speed anyone car drive anywhere in country, why sell cars that can go three times faster? Force manufacturers to ensure that none of their cars can cross 100kmph if they want to sell cars in India. This way there is no need to put extra police force to check who is over-speeding. Let whole country move around slowly and let us see how practical that is going to be. Current rules are like allowing a child to buy an ice cream but snatching it away when the kid tries to eat it.
  • Restricting speed is the easiest thing to do for policy makers. There are a dozen other factors contributing to accidents and no one wants to talk about them or fix them, because solving rest of the issues is not as convenient as restricting speed. No one wants to work on other issues that contribute to accidents- ill trained people getting driving license, roads full of pot holes and unscientific speed breakers, two wheelers riding without safety gear, riding hazardously all over the road, fitness of vehicles on our roads and so on. Working on these aspects take time, effort and money for lawmakers, so instead asking everyone to go slow is an easy option.
  • Almost all highways today are heavily tolled, with a promise that with nice roads you can reach your destination quicker. Lot of time gets wasted in toll booth traffic jam. So if we can’t make up for it by going faster when roads permit, what is the point of paying toll?
 Empty road ahead and empty road behind...but I had to drive slower than 100kmph!
Now, how to ensure that you never exceed 100kmph? When the road is straight and clear, we easily tend to speed up and cross 100kmph. Keeping constant eye on Speedometer is a pain. One way to ensure compliance with 100kmph is to stay put in 4th gear max. Never enter 5th gear. 100kmph is on the higher side of fourth gear range, so engine starts offering some resistance when vehicle closes 100kmph. This can be taken as a clue to slow down. If you shift to 5th gear, vehicle will effortlessly accelerate to 120kmph+ and next thing you will hear is about the penalty slapped by the rental company. Of course, cruising all day in 4th gear is not good for long term health of the engine, but what do you expect a rental customer to do? Risk huge penalty in interest of engine’s life?

How do rental companies track and enforce speed limit?
I do not have a concrete answer, but below are the possibilities:
GPS/GPRS based tracking- this is the most convenient way- install a GPS device or mobile SIM based device in the car and that can transmit car’s location, speed etc to the owner. This system is not fool proof.

Unlike speedometer in your car, GPS doesn’t measure real instantaneous speed (how fast the wheels are spinning at the moment). GPS devices work on the formula- speed= distance/time. For a given interval, GPS measures distance traveled by the car and dividing it by time taken will give speed. This system has flaws- for more accurate reading, the time interval should be small- every few seconds- but computing speed every few seconds will be performance heavy, so in all probability the time interval will be longer- like 20 or 30 seconds or more. That is, GPS checks how far you have covered in 30 seconds and takes average to check if it comes to 100kmph. This means if you rapidly accelerate to 150kmph and then suddenly slow down to 50kmph all within 20-30 seconds, GPS tracker won’t know that you exceeded 100kmph. Only if you sustain the 100kmph speed for long enough you will be tracked. If you occasionally over-speed accidentally and slow down within few seconds, they you are not likely to be tracked for penalty.

Another point to be noted with GPS tracker is that it works best when car moves in straight line. Let us say you drive on a curvy path, covering 2 kms in 60 seconds- this is 120kmph. But if the straight line distance between start and end point is 1.66km, GPS thinks you covered 1.66 km in 60 second, that is within 100kmph.

Other options to track speed will be to rig on-board computers to track real time speed and keep a log of it- this will cost money and if done without manufacturer’s consent, may void warranty for the car.

You may think speed limit restriction doesn’t affect you because you don’t drive. You are wrong. It affects all of us. Consider below points
  • If a Volvo bus has to go very slow and takes 12 hours to reach a destination, then it can only do 2 trips a day and its owner will have to price the tickets accordingly. If higher speed is allowed and bus can reach its destination in 8 hours, then it can do 3 trips in a day and owner will be able to reduce per ticket cost.
  • The truck that delivers goods to supermarket near you- if it has to go slow on highways, then its owner will have to charge more for transportation, which means you will pay more for the goods. If truck can reach quicker and pickup next load, cost of transportation comes down.
  • If vehicles are allowed to go faster, they reach their destination faster and go off the road quickly. If everyone are to move slowly, then more vehicles on the road, driver fatigue increases and more the chance of accidents.
Speed is not the single most reason for accidents. It is just one of the many factors. A driver not knowing when it is safe to speed up and when he should slow down is the cause- there are roads in India where it is perfectly safe to drive at 140kmph or faster. Safe speed depends on lots of factors like road condition, vehicle condition, traffic, driver expertise, rain/weather, day/night, risk of other obstacles like cattle etc. Having a fixed speed limit all over, without consideration for any other aspects is the same mentality with which we ask our girls to cover up, stay indoors and not to talk to boys, instead of asking boys to respect women and not to misbehave with them. Many accidents are caused by unscientific speed breakers, pot holes and stray animals entering the road randomly. Don’t talk about fixing any of these. Going slow is the ultimate solution- if number of potholes or animals increase, reduce top speed to 20kmph. If whole country moves so slow, can anyone guarantee zero accidents?

Almost all countries have speed limit, but speed limit is accompanied by strict enforcement on all other aspects of motoring (getting driver license is not easy, strict rules on vehicle conditions, public awareness etc). There speed limit also varies from road to road depending on various aspects.

If Carzonrent or Zoomcar are very particular about speed limit, they can tie up with car manufacturers to electronically limit the cars to certain speed. If the car can never cross a pre-defined speed, there will be no need to tell customers to drive slowly. But they won’t do it, because collecting penalty is easy money for them.

Many cars are deemed unsafe for use- Datsun Go, Hyundai Grand i10 have received zero rating in NCAP crash tests. But government has no inclination to ban them.

Carzonrent says first instance of over-speeding will be penalized at 1000 Rs, 2nd instance 5000 Rs, 3rd instance 5000 Rs and after fourth instance booking stands cancelled. It is not clear what constitutes one instance. For example, if there’re 5 toll booths between two cities, after crossing first toll both I accelerate beyond 100kmph and stay put at 100+ for next 50kms (till next toll booth)- that is one instance? Or each time their tracker alerts over-speeding (If one sustains 100kmph for 5 minutes may be tracker will alert 5 times) that is considered one instance?

It was very irritating to stay below 100kmph when whole road was empty (everyone were at home for Deepavali) and I could have reached home few hours earlier. May be it is time I should reduce dependency on car rental companies and think of buying a car for myself in the interest of my freedom. While I make up my mind, I hope Carzonrent removes the speed limit clause or increases it to a practical value, at least at par with Zoom's 125 kmph.,

Your comments are welcome.

Similar: Carzonrent copies from Zoomcar * Speed governor issue in Karnataka


Gowri said...

There is one critical info you are ignoring - the limit is only on rental cars. The agency is free to make any rule they wish and you sign a contract. So if you don't like their terms , you a re free to walk away.
Cars rented on the border in California specifically say that you cannot take the vehicle over to Mexico for obvious security reasons. But rentals in Seattle area freely cover insurance to permit driving in Canada too. The rules are based on locals usage but also for safety of the agency's property. Some other rental agreements will have a weekly mileage limit.
This month we are renting a one way car and they do not even charge a penalty because the agency wants certain cars moved from one area to another (we are flying one way and driving back 400 miles). We wanted a car for 5 day but it costs the same to keep the car for a weekly rental.

Overall, I see this as the strange and confusing rules it comes to renting cars!

Arun Prasadh said...

100Kmph is hard to comply with. Most highways are good and 100 is too low. 125 is good and beyond that anyway is a risk. Liked the icecream example :)) 1000Rs is ridiculously high and instead of enjoying the drive you will be always worried and keep looking at the speedometer which is dangerous too.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Below is the official reply from Carzonrent (replied on facebook)

Dear Shrinidhi, thank you for sharing your note with us. Being a regular self-drive user, we also appreciate your deep loyalty to self-driving as a concept. We would love to have car manufacturers and regulators in India provide the kind of options of managing car maintenance as shared by you. In the absence of the same, we believe that the most important experience that a self-drive user looks for while renting a car is the comfort of driving a car as their own and therefore always have well maintained cars available to them.
While we continue to work on providing rental solutions, customized for different users by analyzing driving patterns of our users, we do believe safe driving limits ensure that our cars are maintained. Therefore, being available to our customers for a pleasant driving experience for longer times without putting a significant burden on their pockets for the same.
Needless to say, we have taken note of your feedback and will update you on our initiatives which enable driver and car safety, along with well-maintained cars.
Team Myles.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Arun: Agree..

@Gowri: Thanks for detailed comment.
Agree rule is for rental cars only, but the basis for their rule is that it is govt limit, which is never followed and not practical.

Unfortunately one way rentals are not yet available in India.

pp madhavan nair said...

Another reason to choose zoomcar over carzonrent.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes, but Zoomcar has its own drawbacks- super long rides are super expensive there

PrEeT said...

Having a fixed speed limit all over, without consideration for any other aspects is the same mentality with which we ask our girls to cover up, stay indoors and not to talk to boys, instead of asking boys to respect women and not to misbehave with them.

----- This was really analogy buddy.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thank you :)

Prince Agrawal said...

I have rented car from MYLES earlier and I liked the fflexibility and comfort they provide. Based upon my past experience I booked a car again without second thought. Later I learned about the new 100 kmph speed limit rule and it is totally impractical to take a SUV and drive in that speed limit on a highway. I am thinking of canceling the booking and will go for zoom car services.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Prince- True, zoomcar has slightly better 125 kmph limit, but their per km rate is pretty expensive for my long drives