When miles are better than kilometers

The metric system is easier to use than the imperial one, but it’s not necessarily better. Would youSpeed
rather be stopped by the police going 180 kilometers per hour or 112 miles per hour? I’d choose the latter — and so would David Clarke of Ireland.

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) – When police caught driver David Clarke flying
down a road at 180 kilometers per hour this month, he looked likely to
lose his license.

But a country judge reduced the charge and let the 31-year-old
information technology worker stay on the road after concluding the
speed did not look as bad when converted into miles, or 112 mph. …

McLoughlin was quoted as saying the speed seemed "very excessive," but
did not look "as bad" when converted into miles. He lowered the charge to driving carelessly, and fined him euro1,000 ($1,450); if
convicted of the tougher charge of driving dangerously, Clarke would
have lost his license. [Link]

Phew! Saved by the imperial system. He gets to keep his license, but I’m sure he wishes the judge had fined him £696, instead of euro1,000. Then again, it could have been far worse. He could have been fined 56,879 rupees. That’s a lot of money!

The episode underscored Ireland’s slow mental conversion to metric.
Ireland switched its speed limits from miles to kilometers in January
2005, but most cars still display speeds principally in miles.

I’m glad my car’s odometer is in miles, not kilometers. It has 69,000 miles and doesn’t seem old. If it had 110,000 kilometers, I’d be thinking of dropping it off at Goodwill.

Photo by Chris Campbell

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


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