Libertarian Road Safety
by Daniel Harding
In this post, I’m going to discuss how private roads can be made safe for drivers, motorcyclists, and other road users. First of all, when I say ‘road safety’ here, I mean the use of rules to determine how someone travelling on a road should use it to avoid as much danger as is possible. Now even for a die-hard libertarian who hates the state, it must be admitted that roads need to have some rules applied to them; speed rules in particular. How then do we achieve this without each private road applying rules to the property in a subjective manner that leads to confusion and chaos?
The answer is insurance, which must and would have an even bigger presence in a free society. Ownership of a road with many users is a big responsibility, and the market would surely allow for roads to be insured against damage from natural causes as well as from collisions. Such insurance would naturally be a commonplace purchase for most owners of roads.
It is natural of insurance companies to want to reduce their costs as much as possible to avoid having to pay out in the case of claims, so it is certain that they would want to impose rules on the use of road to avoid as much risk of collisions, injuries and deaths as possible. Now obviously this leaves the problem that each road would likely have rules that are specific to that particular place, which returns us to our original problem, the confusion of a road user who has one set of rules on one stretch of road, and another set of rules on the next. However, although each road is individual and needs specific rules for use, most roads obviously share traits with others, such as motorways, urban roads, and country roads. These similarities mean that insurance companies can create standardized sets of rules that apply to all roads of a certain class (motorway, urban, country). Sharing information between insurance companies is common practice, and is beneficial for all of them to avoid risk; therefore, we can also assume that extensive research would be done to discover the best way to manage roads so that risk is avoided and payouts are being made as little as possible.
The beauty of the idea discussed in this post is that the same rules also apply to things like personal defense (protection from those who would do harm to your person and property). This idea is a very useful way of thinking when discussing a free society, as it can help you to discover the way in which many things would work in a free society that are very different from the way they are now under democratic (communist-lite) big government.