85 MPH: Almost a Speed Limit

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On a stretch of road near Austin, Texas there is an actual speed limit. Or at least, close to one.

You can drive up to 85 MPH on  Texas Highway 130 – and not worry about receiving a “reckless driving” ticket. Or even a “speeding” ticket.

It’s a start.

Almost 60 years ago – during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower – construction of the Interstate Highway System began. Inspired by the German Autobahn, it was specifically intended to be a system of superhighways – with traffic flowing at speeds of at least 70 MPH. Much higher speeds were anticipated – and designed for. There are portions of the Interstate system that were laid out with 100-plus MPH average speeds in mind. By implication, speed limits would have been considerably higher.

But, let’s stick with 70-75 average speeds for just a moment – and reflect on Texas’ 85 MPH maximum today.

In the late 1950s, when the Interstate system was being laid out, the typical new car had manual drum brakes at all four corners, rode on skinny (by modern standards) whitewall bias-ply tires, had loosey-goosey steering and a suspension not far removed from what was used in Model Ts: Leaf springs, non-independent rear axle – perhaps shock absorbers. Really bouncy ones. That’s it. No anti-sway bars, no four wheel independent suspension – let alone four wheel disc brakes with ABS. And yet, the very smart – and very sober-minded -  men who designed the Interstate system considered that the average car of circa 1958 (and the average driver of circa 1958) was sufficiently competent to safely handle steady-state cruising speeds of around 70-75 MPH.

It is nearly 60 years later – but we’re rarely allowed to travel faster.  In fact, it’s a fairly recent development that we’re even allowed to drive at speeds that were allowable in the late 1950s and through the 1960s. Just 16 years have passed since the federal 55 MPH National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) was finally repealed. For almost 20 years prior, motorists were routinely mulcted by costumed enforcers for “speeding” – that is, for driving at speeds that were formerly lawful and well within the designed-for speeds envisioned by the engineers who laid out the Interstates . . . back when Eisenhower was in office.

Today, we can once more drive at late 1950s speeds – and not worry about “speeding” tickets. Celebration!

But people might ask whether, just perhaps, it might be reasonable to reconsider circa 1950s speed limits in light of the exponentially higher limits of modern cars. If it was “safe” and “reasonable” for a 1958 Chevy with drum brakes and bias-plys to operate at 70, what of a 2013 Chevy with high-performance four-wheel disc brakes and seventeen inch alloy wheels shod with modern radials designed for safe travel at continuous speeds in excess of 130 MPH? There isn’t a new (or recent vintage) car that isn’t inherently safer (more controllable, less likely to crash) at 90 MPH than any car of 1958 – or 1968 (or 1978) – was at 70. Yet speed limits are – for the most part – just about to back where they were circa 1970.

So, while the 85 MPH max in Texas is good news, it’s also sad news. It is a barometer of the extent to which the public has been brainwashed – and browbeaten – on the matter of “speeding.” Few know much – if anything – about the Interstate system’s origins as a superhighway system – let alone that 70-75 was considered routine (and legal) more than 40 years ago.  But they do remember the NMSL – and Drive 55 – and so are grateful to be allowed to run 70-75 once more.  Eighty-five seems downright sparkling.  Except that on that lonesome Texas highway – with the road straight and stretching to what seems like infinity – running 85 is damn near boring.

Ask any Texan.

A real limit on that road (and many other roads) would somewhere int he neighborhood of 120. Many drivers – in countless modern cars – could safely handle much higher speeds. They do so routinely (and safely) on the first Interstate Highway System – Germany’s Autobahn. But that would mean less revenue. Less payin’ paper. Less excuse for the dons of the insurance mafia to ladle out “surcharges.”

Perhaps by 2030 we’ll be able to lawfully drive as fast as we should have been allowed to drive back in 1990.

But don’t count on it. There’s too much revenue at stake.

Throw it in the Woods?

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  123 comments for “85 MPH: Almost a Speed Limit

  1. Mike_A
    November 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    This is the exact argument I’ve been using for years as was explained to me by my grandfather. Most people look at me like I’ve been huffing paint when I try to explain that these roads were in fact designed for 70 mph in a 50′s or 60′s vintage car.

    • November 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Hi Mike,

      Yup… even fewer make the mental leap that if 70-75 was “safe” (and legal) in 1970 – then surely it’s safer to drive 70-75 today… and arguably, safe to drive 80, 90 – even 100-plus in a modern car.

    • BrentP
      November 14, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      The PA turnpike had no speed limit in 1939.
      Then the control freaks put on it. It became boring at 50mph. In a 1930s car.

    • November 14, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      Growing up in Montana in the 40′s and 50′s there was NO speed limit during the day time hours. Speed limit at night was 55. However, the highways in most parts of the state were terrible and our death rate on the highways was out of sight. We also had “Open Range” areas throughout the state. (That allowed the ranchers to allow their cattle and/or horses to roam freely on the roads.) In addition, the law declared that if you hit a cow and killed or injured yourself or passengers you had to pay the rancher for his loss of a cow. Wow, was that fair or what?

      I’m for the speed limits of 75 on good freeways in our newer cars that are much safer than they used to be.

      • Bob Robertson
        November 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

        Mr. Eberth, so people were responsible for how fast they chose to go, and for the damage they did?

        I don’t see how this is in any way a bad thing. If you disapprove, then drive slower.

      • Autolykos
        November 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

        With all due respect, Ray, you don’t seem to have actually read Eric’s article.

      • November 16, 2012 at 7:36 am

        Actually, that law was fair. It’s a Coasian thing, about how to handle conflicting side effects and spillover effects. The thing is, the ranchers were there first. Banning their activities would have been a taking of their property rights. So would making them bear the loss of any injured cattle. Sure, a driver faced with having to pay for that might have thought he hadn’t been doing anything wrong to deserve either the accident or paying the compensation, but in fact he had been a late comer to an established zone with established property uses, and he was never entitled just to take some of that for his own uses – in this case, driving.

        • November 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

          In some farming areas, there are what are called “fence in” laws. Basically, if you have livestock on your land, it’s your obligation to fence them in. If you don’t and they cross onto other people’s land, you’re responsible for any damage they cause.

          Seems reasonable to me.

          • November 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm

            It’s only reasonable in the same sense as it is reasonable for the wolf to eat the lamb and also reasonable for the lamb to flee the wolf: they each have an interest like that, a different interest. But that doesn’t make it right – after all, it is reasonable for the state to set speed traps, again because it has an interest in them.

            No, the important point is the property involved, and whether it is being taken. If the roads had been put in first, and then the lands made available to those who got there by the roads with conditions like that attached – as indeed happened to people taking lands opened up by U.S. railways – then there would have been no taking, since the conditions would have been part of the price. But when ranchers blazed the way – and remember, “way” means “road” – then they were the ones who opened up the lands and set up the roads. For someone to come along later and impose those conditions is just as reasonable, but this time it is a taking of what the ranchers had, so it is a theft – a perfectly reasonable thing that is at the same time a taking of what others had.

    • jamie adler
      November 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      I’m all in for a much higher speed limit. I drive my seventh Porsche Carrera owned over the past 45 years (although the early ones were not Carreras) and I would LOVE to be able to legally drive much faster. I have had my car at up to 140 mph for extended periods of time, although 100 mph has been more common. And it has always been on the interstate, always in light or moderately light traffic and, on several occassions, early Sunday mornings. When I had my car at 140 mph on a Minnesota interstate, early on a Sunday morning, my daughter, who is a Minnesota resident, told me that the highway patrol would likely throw me in jail and revoke my license if I had been caught. I’M ALL FOR HIGHER SPEED LIMITS IN MOST AREAS ! The COUNTER ARGUMENTS to this though are that (1) even with widening the interstates hav significantly higher traffic than in the 1950s and 1960s and, even more importantly (2) there is the “point and push” crowd out there. Frequently they are inattentive, have no feel for the mechanics of their vehicle and SIMPLY POINT THE CAR AND PUSH THE GAS ! I would like to see much higher licensing requirements similar to those that western Europe require and mandatory annual or bi-annual inspection of vehicles. However, there would be tremendous political pushback about regulations like this because we are a democratic and egalitarian country and, it would be argued, this kind of legislation would exclude many people who cannot afford a safe vehicle and many people require their car go get to work. Not having an automobile would negatively affect the economy. The current unrealistically low speed limits only encourage law breaking by a majority of drivers and deliver a plethora of speeding violation fines to the state. In most states the highway patrols/state troopers have more important things to do than chase down someone who is driving SAFELY 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. I suggest more rigorous drivers’ tests, inspection of vehicles and HIGHER SPEED LIMITS in areas where it is safe to have them.

      • Autolykos
        November 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        Indeed, I don’t see why car-insurance companies don’t *themselves* require things like vehicle inspections, minimum maintenance levels (to be confirmed via the inspections), and periodic testing of driving ability. For all I know, there could be laws and/or regulations that prohibit that.

        • November 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm

          Some do. In Phoenix where there is no mandatory inspection of vehicles (except a biannual emissions test) and no taxi commission to demand inspection of taxis, the insurance companies themselves have you sign an inspection affidavit showing the taxicab was inspected.
          OMG! Clovers everywhere are saying “Arizona doesn’t have safety inspections for cars? Phoenix doesn’t have safety inspections for taxis??? AHHH!!!! The CARNAGE!”
          But actually, the accident rates in Arizona are about the same as everywhere else. In other words, those expensive vehicle inspections they put you through in places like Massachusetts do nothing to reduce highway deaths.

  2. James
    November 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Implicit in this discussion is the need for better driver education in this country.

    I’m in general agreement with the Interstate speed limits discussed here, vis-a-vis the average capabilities of modern automobiles. It’s the competence of the modern American driver that concerns me. His skills have not kept pace with the engineering improvements that allow us to otherwise drive our vehicles at high two digit and low three digit speeds.

    The real challenge isn’t education, it’s character. I speak of the cultural shift that would need to occur so that the domestic driver thinks of others at least as much as he [currently] thinks of himself. I won’t be convinced that things are changing for the better here until I start to see a real and sustained reduction in rude and dangerous behaviors such as, e.g., left land blockers.

    If we’re going to pine for the ability to move about in true rapid fashion, and be left alone whilst doing so, it’s got to go hand in hand with real increases in personal responsibility. We’re not there yet. Baby steps, such as what we see with Texas Highway 130, do give me cause for optimism.

    • James
      November 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      …left LANE blockers.

    • Jeff Anderson
      November 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      And to what do we owe the immaturity you are pointing out? Could it be that the wise overlords treat everyone as though they were children? Why should anyone act their age when they are treated as such? Take off the constraints and take away the limits on liability and see how fast everyone grows up.

    • November 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      we can just improve the clover’s driving skills through attrition.

  3. NIF
    November 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Whatever became of the Montana-bahn? I also seem to remember hearing about speed limits back in the 60′s that were called “reasonable and proper” – but I guess in today’s climate that could lead to a difference of interpretation by the costumed enforcers.

    • Mike_A
      November 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      From what I understand, there’s a speed limit now, but the fine is like $5 and you pay the cop right there on the spot. No points, no record, just carry on with your business. Montana’s way of giving the middle finger to the insurance companies and federal nannies.

      • Infidel
        November 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm

        That law only applied during the National 55MPH Limit. When it was lifted, Bush’s butt-buddy, Gov. Rocicot, decided Montana should have a 75MPH Limit and when he could get the State Legislature to pass one, he and his insurance friends got the Montana Supreme Court to declare the Reasonable and Proper Speed as unconstitutional.
        For, I believe, 5 months, Montana had no Limit – Reasonable and Proper or otherwise. The State also saw the lowest highway death rate during this time. Soon, the Legislators fell to their knees with their mouths open and passed the Governor’s Limit and what followed was a 100% increase in highways deaths.
        So, instead of the new Limit looked at as a problem, it was deemed heavier enforcement was needed. Instead of all those prostate lickers who were responsible for the 75MPH Limit being brought up on Involuntary Manslaughter charges, they continue life as usual while touting how free their Subjects are.

  4. Buzz
    November 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    While I’m quite comfortable at 75-80 mph, I find it interesting that a blogger who constantly complains about the poor driving by most on the road would be advocating that we be allowed to go faster. The earlier post which mentioned a need for increased driver education is spot on. If all of the interstate speed limits in the country went up ten miles an hour tomorrow, the increase in accidents in the first month would be enough to justify dropping them back down (at least for the paternalistic government we currently live under). I’m not sure how this is best approached – personally, I have a pretty strong “thin the herd” mentality, but that doesn’t jive with most people’s feeling – but I think it starts in the drivers’ ed. classroom. I’d love to see an increase, but I just can’t see it coming about any time soon, and if it does it’ll be driven by political (state’s rights) feeling, rather than actual science as you cite. Fingers crossed.

    • November 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      Buzz –

      What I advocate is not lumping everyone into one dumbed-down category. And not treating me as presumptively inept because someone else is demonstrably inept.

      • Buzz
        November 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

        Eric, I agree completely. The blatant difference between presumptive and demonstrably (as regarding ineptness) is clearly the problem here. I only found it interesting that by advocating raising the speed limit (and I hope I’m not putting the word “advocating” in your mouth!), you’re saying that it would be raised for all – including the demonstrably inept. That is the part that struck me as interesting.

        As I said before, I’m a big fan of “thinning the herd” and I think that doing something like raising the speed limit would, in these days of texting, eating, and bluetoothing (word?), lead to a large number of accidents. Granted, nearly all of them would be clover-related, if not outright clover-caused; but make no mistake, there would be blood. If you could stick with it (and my point is that the feds WOULDN’T), you would force people to begin to learn how to operate vehicles within the sensible parameters in which they should.

        We’ll see if anything like this gains any traction at the state level. Although if Texas secedes from the rest of the Country, we can all just go down there and drive on the new “Austinbahn.” Heh, heh. Always enjoy your posts. Keep it up.

        • NIF
          November 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

          Austin’s a very left-wing town even though it’s in Texas. They must be very lonely there surrounded by all those tall-in-the-saddle rugged types instead of the light-in-the-loafers types you’d find in Berzerkley or San Fran-freako…

        • Jeff Anderson
          November 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm

          Take away clover’s legal backing, and he will have to grow up and learn to drive, or be driven off the highways and onto the byways. I think Eric is advocating the removal of artificial speed limits for all, even the demonstrably inept. My own opinion is summed up in the words of Reagan (who I think was demonstrably inept in many ways) “…government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem!”

    • BrentP
      November 14, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      Building a better idiot comes through all these lowest common denominator laws. That aside, 80-85mph is about the most that can be done with american idiots on the road. In Germany 100mph is perfectly calm and easy going. The idiocy in the USA drops the speeds by 20% right off the top.

      • Brady
        November 15, 2012 at 8:29 am

        I drive a Corvette and when I’m doing 75,it seems like 45 and yes it is boring to drive thru areas in the west going “only” 75. Ask any Corvette driver and they’ll say the same thing.In these cars it is a joke to drive at these “slow” speeds. I remember Nevada had no speed limit,but I was just a kid,now that would be fun. But to other comments,it is about control and revenue not about safety.

        • November 15, 2012 at 10:33 am

          Right on, Brady!

          On a sport bike, it’s even more ridiculous. 75 MPH is the top of second gear….

      • Jeff Anderson
        November 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm

        Idiocy foisted on us by paternalism.

      • heath
        November 16, 2012 at 3:38 am

        Heading down from Chicago recently, it felt strangely normal to cruise at 95-100 mph on 55 through Missouri and Arkansas.

        • November 16, 2012 at 10:44 am

          In most cases, doing 20 over brings me up to a speed that feels comfortable for steady state cruising along. The secondary highway I travel daily, for example is posted 55. Has been since probably the 1970s. 75 is – to me – gently rolling along. Also highly “illegal.”

          But I have my V1 along for the ride!

    • Bob Robertson
      November 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Buzz, I have to ask about one phrase you use, “be allowed”.

      In what way are people not “allowed” now? When I lean into merge lane and throttle up to 80 or so such that I can merge into moving traffic, in what way am I not being “allowed” to ride in what I consider a safe way?

      When I was cruising at 125mph on hwy 50 in Nevada, or 100 on 880 in San Jose, in what way was I not “allowed”?

      “Punished if caught” is hardly the same thing.

      The sudden flurry of brake lights and drastic decreases in speed as people slow for a speed-trap, now that is dangerous. Had there been no speed-trap, people would have simply continued on, safely, at the general speed of flow.

  5. VoxFox
    November 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Yep, it’s all about the money – what else would you expect in America: “the land of the free”? Ha!!

    • mithrandir
      November 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

      “the land of the fee

      VoxFox,

      I corrected it for you. ;)

  6. z
    November 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I’m new to this site and I love it. For accuracy’s sake I would point out one thing though: I work for risk management in a major insurance company and they don’t really benefit from speed limit laws. Once you’re in this company (most operate the same) they don’t pull your MVRs. If you’re changing companies, they may indeed benefit because the MVR will be ordered. Age and credit have the most to do with frequency and severity of claims, not speed of driving.

    • November 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      Hi Z,

      Welcome – first of all.

      As far as your post: That’s news to me. Are you saying that a driver who receives a couple of “speeding” tickets will (all else being equal) not have his rates “adjusted” upward?

      • methylamine
        November 15, 2012 at 4:14 am

        Actually my experience has been just that–I average a ticket every 18 months or so, and my rates haven’t gone up at all.

        I’ve been with Progressive for about ten years. While I’m not happy being forced to pay for it, at least they’re not complete shysters.

      • z
        November 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm

        Correct. They could, in theory, raise your rates, but if you’re in your company’s standard line of insurance, they most likely will never reorder your MVR once you’re in there. It’s not cheap to do so. If you add someone to your policy, they’ll check that persons MVR. And of course, if you change companies (or get moved to another company within the larger corporation) they’ll look at “speeding” tickets.

  7. Craig
    November 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    If they had kept the 55 mph speed limit many Americans would not have died protecting Arab oil. Think about what the economy would look like now if America had not gobbled up all th extra fuel it takes to to 65 instead of 55 !!

    • methylamine
      November 15, 2012 at 4:15 am

      You’re being serious? I’ll reserve my scathing response, in the hope you’re kidding.

      If so it was a good one!

      • MoT
        November 15, 2012 at 6:18 pm

        That’s gotta be a mighty big “tongue-in-cheek” comment or else the double-take I made reading it wasn’t by accident.

    • David
      November 15, 2012 at 7:11 am

      So then, Craig, let’s set the speed limit to 45 and be even more prosperous. Or maybe 35 and we will all be millionaires. Or how about 25 and we’ll have a nation fill of folks like Bill Gates?

      One thing you are ignoring is that 55 is an arbitrary number. We could have speed limits of 85 everywhere and marvel about how much fuel we are saving versus 95.

      Another thing you ignore is that time spent in a vehicle is non-productive time, and the less non-productive time workers spend, the better off the economy would be. A trucker driving an 11 hour shift can drive 715 miles a day at 65 miles per hour. But at 55, it would take 18% more drivers in 18% more trucks on the road to accomplish the same amount of movement of goods. Figure the same loss of productivity for bus drivers, commuters, and anyone else on the road who works.

      That would be way more of a hit on the economy that the difference in efficiency from 65 to 55.

      Besides, there are other solutions to the problem of Americans dying while protecting Arab oil. The most obvious is just don’t do it. Keep the troops at home protecting our own country.

    • Brady
      November 15, 2012 at 8:46 am

      Using up oil because of driving 65 instead of 55mph ? I hope you’re kidding. The government doesn’t care about mileage,although they try to brainwash us into thinking this. Lets look at the government. At every major sporting event,such as Super Bowl,World Series,to name a few,they have fly-bys. I wonder how much that costs ? Then,we have our beloved presidents,who fly these huge 747′s,when they could be flying a Gulfstream. If any pilot out there that flys one of these knows what I’m talking about. Then you have the Navy,doing all these ridiculous training exercises with their ships(unless they’re nuclear).Then,you have the Army boys with their tanks in KY,same training exercise. We could go on and on.But my point is,the gov’t really has put on a BIG hoax about oil.Besides the oceans,sand,rock,oil is more abundant than anything else….and it keeps replenishing itself. Geologists have been told to keep this hush,hush as they don’t want people to think their is major,major oil on this earth !!

      • BrentP
        November 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm

        Government’s operations, their wars, their excesses… orders of magnitude greater fuel consumption per person than the general population who has to pay for their own fuel.

        But those things are always untouchable in the green agenda. The environment is just a tool of the con. Give them everything so the snake god doesn’t eat the sun. Thousands of years go by and humanity falls for the same con over and over again.

    • Ed
      November 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      “If they had kept the 55 mph speed limit many Americans would not have died protecting Arab oil.”

      What does one have to do with the other? How many Americans have “died to protect Arab oil”?

      “Think about what the economy would look like now if America had not gobbled up all th extra fuel it takes to to 65 instead of 55 !!”

      My car with automatic overdrive gets about 26 mpg at 70mph and about 21 mpg at 55. Do you think I may have been “gobbling up” extra fuel at 55 for all those years of the national speed limit?

      Think of how our economy would be doing without all the stultifying laws and regulations we now have. You seem to think that regulations help the economy by forcing everyone to economize.

    • Fred
      November 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      They did not die to protect Arab oil. They died to ensure the dollar remains the world’s reserve currency.

    • BrentP
      November 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Protecting Arab Oil? They died for the profit margins of the big western oil companies. The wars are to make oil scarce. To increase its price. To maintain the corporatist system. To maintain the planet’s oil in a few hands. There’s nobody to protect it from except from people who would sell it freely for goods, currency, or metals of their choice.

  8. Houdini
    November 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Physics is a Law that no one can break. Kinetic Energy = 1/2 mass * velocity squared.

    There is a limit to the amount of energy the frame of a car can absorb. Beyond that the energy is transferred to the occupant and the human body tissue can only retain so much stress before the 75% water-internal filling, causes the tissue to rip and the inners become outers. Should you become involved in an accident, the increased speed at which you travel places you closer to the critical energy for serious injury or death as a squared function (i.e., double your speed and you quadruple the energy). If it is a head on collision with another vehicle, the energy of impact is the sum of both vehicles.

    Sure, you may be the best driver in the world. You may have the best car in the world. But what about the other guy, the drunk in the other lane, the item not secured to a flatbed, the dear that jumps out in front. Rare events do happen to the best of people. The higher your speed the more energy that must be dissipated by the brakes (which have an energy limit) to stop, the less time you have to react and avoid, the more energy your body must resist if you don’t avoid.

    Suffice to say, I am good with a little more speed, but not much.

    “When Murphy’s Law and Newton’s Law come together…Oh what a gooey mess.”

    • BrentP
      November 15, 2012 at 2:30 am

      Why are speed kills folks so obsessed with crashing? Taking crashing as a given. As some sort of act of god?

      Safety comes from not having crashes. Not surviving crashes.

      Americans have it bass-ackwards trying to survive crashes that they make even more common by dumbing everything down to the LCD.

      KE is irrelevant if you don’t crash. Try slowing down the Earth if you think speed kills. It has enormous KE. Maybe if the orbit could be stopped… if the whole solar system moving through the galaxy could be stopped. Then we would be safe!

      • rEVOLutionary
        November 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm

        since the government, at one level or another, owns, designs, and maintains (almost all) the roads, determines the speed limits and other regulations, and licenses both the driver and the vehicle, any accident should be their responsibility. Of course there could be deliberate crashes – but then that would not be an accident, would it?

      • Houdini
        November 26, 2012 at 4:25 am

        I had a dear friend, George, who used to believe as you stated. He found he wasn’t indestructible when the other guy surprised him one day. The officer who saw the accident wrote in the report that he could have avoided the accident that killed him had he been driving slower.

        Don’t blame stupidity on God. He created a world of physical laws. Violate the physical laws and the consequence is yours, not His.

        • BrentP
          November 26, 2012 at 5:34 am

          If the collision could have been avoided by driving slower it could have also been avoided by driving faster. Because it’s just a question of timing.

          The reason why slow driving is preached is for the benefit or lazy people who don’t want to put in the effort of keeping track of what is around them, of paying attention to task of driving.

          In Germany people by and large pay attention. The safest driving I have ever done is the fastest driving I’ve ever done. You will never convince me speed is unsafe. What is unsafe is allowing the sort of idiocy that is allowed on north american roads. In Germany I found that absent. And that’s why maxing out a rental car to its top speed was safer than any driving I’ve ever done in the USA, where I have never found the top speed of a car.

        • November 26, 2012 at 10:31 am

          Hi Houdini,

          Brent answered your post brilliantly. It’s not speed – as such. People routinely make the error (because they have been conditioned to) that “speed” (that is, a velocity in excess of the arbitrary maximum set forth by politicians) equals more danger – by definition. But think about it. In the first place, the point just mentioned about the arbitrary nature of the posted speed limit. A number on a sign is not a physical law – it is a political law. It is certainly illegal to exceed a posted speed limit. But is it necessarily dangerous to do so? Of course not. And obviously not.

          The root problem is driver error – making a mistake behind the wheel. Inattention, ineptitude, recklessness. High speed can be involved – but is by no means the essential factor. As Brent points out, slow speed “kills,” too. It’s just not demonized.

        • methylamine
          November 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm

          But that is George’s problem, not yours, and not mine.

          George chose, as I do, to drive as fast as his abilities and car allowed him to comfortably do. His choice, not yours, and his life, not yours.

          You observed George and chose a different path for your life; and THAT is the essence of freedom.

          Don’t now take a false lesson from George’s life and attempt to force everyone else to drive slowly with “laws”.

          Because that’s the essence of tyranny.

    • methylamine
      November 15, 2012 at 4:21 am

      Here’s my take on that:

      So what? I’m fully aware of E = (mv^2)/2…but I try not to let it ruin a perfectly good drive.

      A lovely brisk morning. German engine computers seem especially finicky about temperature; mine doesn’t really let the engine work until it’s under 40 degrees outside…and then it lets loose the dogs of war!

      Cam-timing aggressive, spark advanced. The suspension squats down on the road and the drunk-bumps turn into a white blur…and that sound, the soulful wailing of a big V-8 turning close to seven thousand revs, just willing itself forward.

      I swear cars have souls sometimes.

      Could something random happen one day? Possibly. On the other had, I’ll have lived well; and isn’t that my choice?

    • Brady
      November 15, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Then stay in the right-hand lane !!

    • Autolykos
      November 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      Houdini, are you willing to hurt other people, or to pay for or otherwise support others to hurt them, when they drive faster than you want them to? Suffice it to say, I’d be good with you not presuming to know what’s best for me or anyone else.

      • Houdini
        November 26, 2012 at 4:13 am

        Autolykos,

        Your reply make zero sense. The point is not to hurt people or to pay for others who are hurt. What causes higher rates of insurance? Insurance companies determine rates based on claims paid out + profit divided by number of policies. All cost get passed on to the consumer. So we all pay for increased accident or increased injuries. This applies to both auto and medical insurance. At risk behavior drives up everyone’s cost.

        • November 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

          Actually, not.

          Mandatory coverage drives up costs. If insurance were not mandatory, drivers who “speed” (and get tickets) but never wreck and have claims filed against them could tell an insurance company, “cancel my policy, please” when they try to jack up their rates (or charge excessive rates) based on things such as DMV “points” and other categories of “risk” that say nothing about whether a given person has actually caused them a loss.

          And, the insurance companies could drop the people who do cause a loss – or offer them coverage at rates commensurate with their actual risk profile.

          This way, the people who are the actual problem get held accountable. Everyone else doesn’t.

          Your solution is to collectivize everyone – and force the good to eat the costs of the bad.

  9. Kevin Beck
    November 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Eric: You nailed the reason exactly. And just to play the game of political promises, I’ll jump in with my $0.02:

    If I ever get elected mayor/county commissioner/governor/president, all speeding tickets will be unenforceable.

    And just like I said it, it shall be done.

    • MARY ELLEN SPALDING
      November 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Since the roadways are designed for specific speeds you can argue your speeding ticket in court stating that criteria. That information is available from your Dept of Transportation. I know that argument works as I have won my case with that information. Keep in mind, those speed limits are recommendations. If the words, “Speed Limit” are missing from the sign, drive as fast as you need to safely.

  10. November 15, 2012 at 2:52 am

    This is one of the reasons I am all for privatization of the road systems. I believe that privately owned highways are more likely to have higher (or no) speed restrictions.

    I agree something needs to be done. But I also agree that most Americans can’t handle higher speeds. That being said, if instead of publicly funded revenue collectors worrying about how fast people were driving, we maybe instead had a private force worrying about reckless drivers (swerving, weaving, driving excessively slow in the left lane) and getting them off of the road (not taking their money, but actually revoking privilege to drive on that road) then higher speeds on highways could be handled by Americans.

    • November 15, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Hi Trocki,

      “But I also agree that most Americans can’t handle higher speeds.”

      Don’t fall into the trap of group-guilting (CLoverism).

      Some can handle them – others cannot. The solution is not to dumb everything down to accommodate those who cannot.

      What to do? Focus on those who cannot. How to do that? By focusing on at-fault wrecks. This is the only objective measure of ineptitude, carelessness and recklessness behind the wheel. Not exceeding some arbitrary velocity. Not ignoring an arguably stupid/needless traffic device (e.g., “no right on red”). Bent metal. That’s objective.

      • Eric_G
        November 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

        Exactly! On the Autobahns, you’ll see everything from old Fiat 500s and Transit vans to Italian supercars and they all seem to get around OK. Of course one reason is because it is much more difficult to get a driver’s license.

        I would also argue the other major reason is because there is a wide variety of automobiles on the road. This forces you to know the limits of your vehicle and know that you shouldn’t be in the fast lane for very long, lest you end up with a 911 behind you. Not only will you not be able to react in time (100+ MPH takes away a ton of reaction time), but you can get a ticket for not yielding to the faster car.

        But there’s a growing movement to introduce speed limits to the autobahns system-wide, going back to the old saw of reducing greenhouse gases. There’s already a lot of spots that have congestion-related speed controls now, so German drivers are getting used to the idea I’m sure.

        • November 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

          I’ve owned (and driven) an incredible variety of cars – everything from an early ’60s Corvair all the way up to Viper ACRs. Each car has its own parameters. In some ways, it is more enjoyable to drive a less capable car – because you are more involved in driving it. For example, the ’64 Corvair I owned. It took skill to negotiate this car through a decreasing radius exit ramp at 50 that a new Camry could comfortably take at 60.

          One problem with new cars – almost all of them – is how deceptively easy they are to drive. And how much higher their limits are than the skill set of the typical driver.

          In my old Corvair, you knew that 75 was running fast – because the car let you know it was working. And so, you paid attention. In a new car, 80 feels like nothing, and many people pay little attention to what’s going on…

          • rEVOLutionary
            November 15, 2012 at 7:32 pm

            Yeah, I knew a guy who said that with his 1980 Toyota pickup, 55 was not a limit, it was a goal!

  11. andy
    November 15, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Speed limits on long stretches of I-10 from San Antonio to El Paso are set at 80.

  12. chiph
    November 15, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Eric – want me to go down there and take some pictures of me doing 85 mph for you? :)

    The main hazard on SH-130 thus far hasn’t been the road design or vehicle design, it’s wildlife. The first day it was open there were 4 feral hog vs. car accidents.

    The first fatality happened the other day (Civic vs. Tahoe. Tahoe won.) DPS hasn’t released the cause, but my expectation is that one of the drivers failed to check the other lane was clear before moving into it.

    And here’s what the road is capable of, in a 1200 hp CTS-V
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_0von_5SRk

    And in a 700 hp Camaro ZL1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaJ3w_fAdoI

    Turn up the sound. The idle on the Camaro is just plain sexy.

    • November 15, 2012 at 11:28 am

      Outstanding, Chip – this made my morning!

  13. kyle scott
    November 15, 2012 at 5:23 am

    I drove the entire length of I80 in 1973 in a 1965 slant-6 Plymouth Valiant. On the west side of the country (starting in Iowa), the limit was 85. In Nevada, there was no limit and my Valiant did 110 with ease. The state still got money from speeding because the interstates didn’t bypass the towns, they stepped you down to local traffic on main street where the limit was 15. It’s tough to go for 115 for a while and then stand still at 15mph. Luckily I was warned about this trap in advance.

  14. rick
    November 15, 2012 at 5:28 am

    i live in germany. you have no idea how it feels to be going to work in the morning and seeing that overhead digitial sign with 120kph crossed out! so here, i get to go over 100mph just going into work. just yesterday, i even had to pull over as someone was about to overtake me. an awesome feeling to be able to drive one’s car as it was designed to be driven.

    now if you ever come to germany and want to really open your car up? get on A7 going down into austria. now that’s a hoot as there is virtually no speed limit for what is like 150 miles!! but when you’re doing 110-120mph, it only takes a little over an hour as opposed to two plus hours in the states.

    and at trocki, we have problems here of folks not wanting to get out of the left lane. they’ve made it illegal to flash them and using the left turn signal to tell them to get the hell over. no what the govt mandate has led to? dang near tailgating to let the guy know to move the hell over!! i flash the folks if at first my rate of closure on them does not convince them tha the left lane is for passing only, or going at an unimpeded high rate of speed.

    but i will say this, commercial trucks do not need to be going as fast as the cars. how fast can a semi safely go? don’t know, but in the states they seem to do fine at 75mph. here, the trucks are highly regulated and it’s usually 80kph for them.

    and one last thing, the driving etiquette is better over here. well, germans police themselves. in the states, simlar rules of the road would need to be in place to deal with the “Left Lane Loiterers” and the “Elephant races”–semis passing semis (and going uphill to boot)!

  15. d d
    November 15, 2012 at 5:32 am

    The mention of the German autobahn should also include the German insistence of absolutely no open containers, of any kind, in any vehicle. No exceptions! This would account for the dearth of cup holders in German-made vehicles or the awkward ‘add-ons’ for vehicles to be ‘sold in the US’. Germans believe you should pay attention to driving when behind the wheel. If you believe German auto engineers, when they are fond of saying,”Americans engineer their cars for 55 mph, Germans 155 mph.”

  16. November 15, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I agree wholly that the imposition of arbitrary speed limits on roads designed for far, far higher speeds is irrational: it is the exact sort of irrationality that characterizes tyranny. But there is a structural aspect to all this that cannot be avoided.

    I find it hard to accept that, after a century of often violent State-sponsored railway development, the dynamics of large-scale infrastructural development was not thoroughly understood at least in some quarters, specifically in that the provision of facilities that offer such broad scope tends to favour an elite who are uniquely capable of exploiting that full scope effectively, and thus works toward oligarchy. I am certain that this was understood in the corporate-State regime of Nazi Germany whence came the Autobahn, and by the more subtly disposed contemporary counterparts in the USA.

    I am equally satisfied that Frank Lloyd Wright simply got his math wrong (if he bothered with math at all) when conceiving his Broadacres urban model. The error implicit in this and many other similar visions is often encountered today wherever technical solutions for social problems are mooted, i.e. that where a crucial factor in the question is regarded as inevitable, extraneous, and static when it is in fact so contingent, intrinsic, and volatile that any solution to the problem would radically redefine the problem. It is contrary to the basic economic principle that supply creates demand.

    As applied to highway development, the pitch was, increasing the predominant mobility horizon twenty-fold would result in a four-hundred-fold increase in access to opportunity. But this was false, as it was predicated on infinite (and static) opportunity, consistency of distribution, and zero marginal cost. The reality was that there was not enough opportunity to fill the new horizon at the same distribution, while land-value dynamics hitherto limited by a smaller mobility horizon tended to drive opportunities to more distant locations, which multiplied the initially low cost of mobility and resulted in reduced net access to opportunity. The upshot is, far more of us are travelling far further to get to far fewer places than the vision promised.

    And thus roads designed to be safe at 120mph are crowded with bored, inattentive, unskilled, angry, frustrated, desperate drivers at less than half the speed. Collisions are to be expected. But forcing those drivers to crawl along those roads is just stupid.

    The only solution is a smaller and fuller typical mobility horizon. There is a hell of a lot of life one can pack into a half-mile radius – and nothing except that wealth preventing anyone from going further.

    As for roads, let them be small and interesting even if it means making them a bit tricky. There is fun to be had at 60mph.

    • chiph
      November 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      When Eisenhower came back from Germany and promoted the construction of an “American Autobahn” one of the original design constraints was that the interstates wouldn’t enter the cities. Instead, you’d have feeder roads that connected the cities to the roads (like in Germany).

      This was shot down in Congress because a powerful Senator (Sen. Byrd, maybe??) wanted his constituents to be able to jump onto a high-speed road right outside of work for the drive home.

      And well, here we are… Clogged roads filled with angry and distracted drivers.

      • November 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm

        I used to live in Pretoria, a city that suffered gravely under the same set of ideas – and professional consultants – that gave every British town a one-way system in the ’60s. In Pretoria the N4 highway enters the city on the eastern side and becomes Schoeman and Pretorius (one-way) streets all the way through to the other side. It does indeed experience concentrated congestion at the transitions, which underscores that highways dumping traffic into cities is a very bad idea.

        As an aside, the last time I experienced the typical British small-town one-way system was around 1986. They were considered very forward-thinking when imposed in the ’60s, but proved cumbersome and confusing in practice. At that time there was invariably a slightly dog-eared BMC ADO16 circling round and round, of which one got the impression that it had been doing so since 1966 and has not been able to get out of the damned one-ways.

        On the other hand cities which avoid transitions between highways and other roads – be it by ring roads or belt roads or continuous bridge structures or whatever – fare no better. The transition effects count for little in the scheme of things: there is still nowhere worth going in a distance it’d take an hour to walk.

  17. Some Guy
    November 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    There’s only one thing that’s being left out in the discussion — gas is stupidly high these days (and will probably get higher with Obammy and all his Greenie buddies) in office, so a lot of people aren’t willing to take advantage of an 85 or higher mile per hour limit because it costs too damn much to drive that fast. That means the possibility of seeing an excessive speed differential between the people trying to save on gas and those who aren’t. Just something to think about. Otherwise, yeah, speed limits are ridiculously low in a lot of places.

    • November 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Some,

      Actually, in current cars, high speed and good gas mileage are not mutually exclusive – courtesy of deep overdrive gearing. I test drive new cars every week and can tell you from direct experience that most of them can cruise at 75-plus with the engine barely running more than a fast idle (around 2,000 RPM). If cars weren’t so damn heavy (courtesy of government) we’d no doubt have models that could run 80-plus all day and still give 40-plus MPG.

      • chiph
        November 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm

        That was the situation with the Ridgeline. If you could keep it under 2000 rpm you got the best mileage. But since it was so heavy (4800 pounds without a load) and the 3.5 liter V6 was so lacking in torque, that going up any kind of hill resulted in a 1 or 2 gear downshift, and rpms over 3200, which sucked down the gas.

      • BrentP
        November 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm

        Yep. my 3.73 optional rear end Mustang is just fine fuel economy wise. It’s turning about 2400rpm at 80mph. It has a redline just over 7000 rpm. Those who got the other axle ratios are turning even slower engine speeds on the interstate.

        What kills fuel economy is stop and go. It’s the brake waves and the congestion caused by slow driving slow accelerating mindless driving cloverians that waste the most fuel. I can drive 80-100mph all day long and have better fuel economy than I would due to the congestion caused by low speed limits and other cloverian fuel saving ideas that reduce throughput resulting in road congestion.

      • November 16, 2012 at 7:48 am

        Just tie a big barrage balloon to the roof (streamlined, of course). :)

    • BrentP
      November 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      I paid $3.749/gal this morning for premium. (might have been 3.779 I don’t quite remember doesn’t matter though.

      According to coinflation.com a 90% silver US quarter is worth $5.9010 melt. This means in real money I paid 3.749/5.9010 * 0.25 = 15.9 cents a gallon.

      Gasoline is as cheap as it has ever been. It would be even cheaper if there were a free market in oil and we had real money.

      I worry that my salary buys less, not the price of gas. Gas is cheap.

  18. Mark
    November 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Eliminate ALL speed limits and remove speedometers from cars, it just encourages lawlessness.

    One law, Keep Right Except To Pass.

    I know, it won’t happen but, as one who has been driving with a disconnected speedo for a couple years(started making a screeching noise so I disconnected it from the trans and I’m too lazy to replace it) it’s very liberating to just drive a comfortable speed…keeping right except to pass.

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      November 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      A competent driver can be aware of his speed with nothing more than his tachometer. When I rode motorcycles I rarely focused on the speedometer.

      tgsam (1936 –)

  19. phil
    November 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I commonly drive along 10 between Louisiana and Houston. This is a mostly 2 lane road where a big portion was revised to 75mph a few months ago. Most people still drive about 70mph. I reckon they found the speed they are happy at. Now they just need to get the hell out of the left lane so that I can do 80!

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      November 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Now they just need to get the hell out of the left lane so that I can do 80!

      Amen! We drive from Gonzales LA to Spring TX a few times each year. Slowpokes in the left lane would make entertaining targets for the Avenger Cannon in the venerable Warthog.

      tgsam

  20. Eric_G
    November 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    There’s a section of I15 just south of the I70 interchange in Utah that has an “experimental” 80MPH speed limit. it’s laser straight and extremely boring so 80 becomes a nice pick-me-up on the way to Vegas.

  21. Rex
    November 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Eric, I endorse your ideas and enjoy your writing. I remember reading your stuff in car magazines years ago.

    However, that advert that follows you down the page is terribly annoying and spoils the stew.

    • November 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Hi Rex,

      Thanks!

      On the ads – they’re unfortunately part of life. They help cover the cost of maintaining the servers and paying the people who make the site’s existence possible. But we – unlike a lot of other sites – never mix content and ads. You’ll never find me shilling for a product, either. I might occasionally recommend something, but I promise I am never paid to do so.

      You may sometimes disagree with an opinion expressed here by me – but it will never be other than an honest opinion expressed by me.

  22. Sugar
    November 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    As far as I am aware, every state and province (I am from Soviet Canukistan) imports the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)as one of the first items in the traffic laws. This allows them to use the standard signage and specifies such things as sign position and design, allowable fonts, and makes recommendations as to coloration for differnt types of signage.

    The point of all of this is simple. That same manual also specifies that arbitrary speed limits should not be used at any time. Speed limits are to be set by traffic study on the actual road in question during good driving conditions. The limit is then to be set at the 85th percentile of traffic speed(to the nearest 5 mph) with enforcement not to begin until 10% over this value. Actually following this provision would likely increase traffic flow, reduce vehicle interactions per hour, and best of all give the Clovers an instant heart attack as they will no longer feel justified in hogging the left lane at 55 mph just because “It’s the speeeeed limit”

    • BrentP
      November 15, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      Except the government and the courts don’t recognize that they are bound by law to follow the MUTCD.

  23. Cammer
    November 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I agree with the article, however it fails to mention the most important component…the drivers that are unsafe at any speed!

  24. November 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    US highways are always compared with Germany’s autobahns when discussing relative speed limits. The big difference is not the roads but the drivers. Getting a driver’s license in the US is a mere formality, required little to no demonstration of driving skills. Getting a license in Germany is a rigorous process that a fair number of people never complete. While we certainly have highways in this country that can accommodate much higher average speeds, the average American driver is so unskilled, unaware of the the most common rules of the road, and so often multi-tasking while driving that unlimited speeds in America would result in ghastly carnage.

    • MoT
      November 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      If I hadn’t already posted down below I’d have put what I said right here. Bingo! Except I’m not too certain that many stretches of highway are as well built as in Germany. Still, there are plenty that can be driven at higher speeds.

    • BrentP
      November 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      Most of the process in Germany is standard government/political hands out BS. The key difference is the knowledge, the learning. It’s just not taught in the USA. It’s taught there. It can be learned on one’s own.

      To me, the perfect system strips away the government and political BS that makes a DL cost $2000+ in Germany and just requires the knowledge. Self taught? School? Individual choice as far as I am concerned.

      It’s very important we make this clear wrt the German licensing system, otherwise our overlords will just make it cost $1500 to get a DL with all sorts of crony government connected driving schools with no real improvement.

      Germans value driving well and that’s why they drive well. Not schools. Not enforcement. Not cost. It’s the mentality they have towards driving. It’s not this thing you do while eating a meal and talking on the phone as it is in the USA. When you drive in Germany you’re supposed to drive. Not watch the Kardasians on your dash mounted TVeeee.

      • MoT
        November 16, 2012 at 2:52 am

        Not much different in Japan where people are generally shuttled through driving schools that charge an arm and a leg. The irony there is that you’re lucky to get above 35mph in typical driving. The roads around cities are often congested and on the cross-country you’re paying tolls every stretch of the way. Expensive doesn’t even scratch the surface.

  25. MoT
    November 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I’ve driven on some stretches of highway in Texas and when I came up on an 85mph sign I thought it was at first a joke. I’m all for faster speeds the only problems I see are that the roads are nowhere near as well maintained or designed as those in Germany nor are the drivers anywhere as skilled. They’re too busy texting or slurping on that Big Gulp to pay any damn attention to the road!

    • rEVOLutionary
      November 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      But which is the chicken and which the egg? I often eat breakfast and occasionally talk on the phone, but only because I can’t go faster than 55 (or even less) because of the traffic.

      • MoT
        November 16, 2012 at 2:49 am

        LOL… That is funny. Still, I forgot that the Germans probably would cite you for talking on the phone or eating while driving. They’ve got this thing about not doing what is verboten. Since that’s where I spring from I’ve seen it in action.

  26. November 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    There is another substantial difference between the US and Germany, beyond a higher starting skill level – the price of a driver’s license. It’s been a few years since I was there last, but I remember the cost being somewhere in the neighbourhood of $3,000 USD at the time. We could thin out MILLIONS of fuckwits by raising the initial costs well beyond a typical 16 year-old’s wages from Old Navy or McShits.

    Also, even though it would have pissed me off as a high school kid, the concept of graduated licensing based on age and DEMONSTRATED skill level is something I, for one, would be willing to at least discuss. ‘B’ License for first time drivers, after 36 months (random number, open to debate of course) of no at-fault accidents and no moving violation tickets, eligibility opens to take the ‘A’ License test. Pass that, then you can go up to (again, random number for sake of discussion) 110% of posted highway limits, based on road conditions. Make it another period of time and you can elect to test for an Advanced A License, which comes with specific plates and/or other easily-recognised markings to inform LE that you’re not bound by highway speed limits at all – merely bound by conditions and personal judgment. This does NOT mean an Advanced A holder could do 120 through a school zone, that’s fucking stupid and dangerous. But, on a nice, sunny day with light winds and light traffic, if you want to blast down I-40 west of Knoxville, through the curvy bits in the mountains, at 135mph and your car can do it, go for it. You crash, your fault. You crash and hurt other people, your fault. You don’t crash but blast past a cop, he can’t touch you. How is that not a more reasonable solution than the nearly cost- and talent-free licenses they give away in Cracker Jack boxes now?

  27. Mike
    November 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    I agree with the points made in the article and would like to see limits raised. However, I don’t think the problem is the quality of the roadways as much as it is the proficiency of the drivers (training, cell phones.)

    Also, people typically bring up the Autobahn in these discussions. Well here is an excerpt from an article that details the training German drivers must endure to earn a license:
    “To get a regular driver’s license,” Christine explains, “you have to take 14 theory classes and at least 12 driving lessons. Driving schools usually offer them twice a week, so that takes about seven weeks. Depending on how quickly you learn, it can be done in about three months; but it usually takes longer, because of holidays and so forth. You start with the classroom sessions, and then move on to the driving portion, taking them in parallel so you learn the rules and also how to apply them.” How many driving lessons you’ll need to take depends on how quickly you learn. With 12 as the minimum, and 50 on the high end, the full licensing course can cost between EUR 1000-2000.

    • Autolykos
      November 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      [Citation Needed]

  28. Chris
    November 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    On the subject of the Autobahn, I was reading Wiki’s article on the Autobahn, and reading the bit on traffic laws goes to show why this concept of no speed-limits can’t work in the US so long as douchebag/clover drivers remain on the roadways and greedy politicians. Laws based only on commons sense such as no tailgating (can face up to 3 months in jail), hard left lane should be for passing only (constantly flashing your lights and tailgating is illegal), it’s unlawful to stop except in emergencies (running out of fuel is no excuse), and so on are too complex for idiots to understand and don’t produce the revenue for the local mafioso…err government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobahn#Traffic_laws_and_enforcement

    Personally I’d rather there be no speed limits, can you imagine if the traffic cops only targeted morons who can’t drive?

  29. November 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Oregon doesn’t even need a speed limit. Everyone here drives ten under anyway.

    • methylamine
      November 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Excellent! A magnificent example of the “twelve monkeys experiment” in action!

      Put twelve monkeys in a large cage, with a ladder in the middle below a suspended basket of food.

      When a monkey climbs the ladder to eat the food, spray him and all the other monkeys with a fire-hose.

      In short order, they’ll stop climbing the ladder–and any monkey who dares to do so will quickly be pulled off by his “comrades”.

      Now remove one monkey and introduce a new monkey; he’ll immediately climb the ladder and face retribution from his “comrades”…no fire-hosing required.

      Continue this replacement process until none of the original twelve monkeys remain–and they’ll still enforce the “law”.

      People are no different.

      • Me2
        November 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm

        The full version;

        —————-

        It happened that there were three monkeys in a cage. Suspended at the top if the cage was a bunch of bananas. There was a ladder from the floor of the cage up to the bananas. One of the monkeys, who was both clever and agile and also liked bananas, decided to head up the ladder to grab a banana.

        Imagine his surprise (not to mention that of the other two monkeys) when suddenly a fire hose washed down the cage, blasting all three monkeys over to one side. Cold and shivering, the three monkeys regrouped and thought about what had happened.

        Monkeys don’t have a real long memory and, after awhile, a second monkey thought again about the bananas and headed up the ladder. Same thing—a fire hose washed all three monkeys over to the side of the cage. They picked themselves up, shook themselves off and hoped the sun would come out to warm them up.

        After another couple of hours, the third monkey couldn’t resist and he went for it. Sure enough, same result—fire hose and cold, wet, miserable monkeys.

        Finally, all three monkeys became convinced that going for the bananas was a bad idea, and went on with the rest of their lives.

        Then the zookeeper drafted one of the monkeys for another exhibit and replaced him with a new monkey. The new monkey arrived, looked up at the bananas, looked over at the ladder and couldn’t figure out why the other monkeys hadn’t gone for the bananas. He headed for the ladder and got about 1 rung up when the remaining “experienced” monkeys tackled him, dragged him to the floor and pummeled him into submission. He quickly concluded that climbing the ladder wasn’t a good idea.

        A week later, the zookeeper replaced the second monkey. Monkeys are somewhat single-minded. The new monkey spied the bananas, headed for the ladder, and the remaining two monkeys tackled him and pummeled him into submission.

        Finally the third monkey was replaced and, you guessed it, the same thing happened. So life went on among the monkeys and after some time the first of the “new” monkeys was replaced with yet another monkey. Sure enough, the new guy saw the bananas, went for the ladder and his two peers then tackled him and beat him into submission.

        Why was that? None of these monkeys knew anything about the fire hose. None of them had ever gotten wet for having climbed the ladder in the quest for bananas. Yet the monkeys had been fully culturalized to know that it was a bad idea. And you could likely go on individually replacing monkeys one at a time forever and expect the same result.

        The Parable of the Monkeys can be readily applied to just about every organizational community structure in the human sphere. We can laugh at the silly monkeys, but humans are the only creatures on Earth capable of amassing and arming themselves to fight and die by the tens and hundreds of thousands because another human claims yet another human is building firehoses to keep all the bananas for himself.

        ——-

        The Clovers, Statists and brainwashed Military won’t recognize themselves in the above but this is precisely their behavior. Unthinking, unquestioning, automatons.

        • methylamine
          November 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

          Thanks me2–I especially like the two closing paragraphs.

  30. tired dog
    November 16, 2012 at 2:00 am

    In the ’60s, Popular Mechanics and Popular Science mags touted the 120mph and higher highways of the future…boy did they get that wrong.
    But who knew we’d be in thrall to the control freaks who run us now.

    • November 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

      Yup –

      Anyone over 40 today will remember that it was taken as a given we’d have routine supersonic commercial air travel by 1980, too. And colonies on Mars by the 1990s.

      • methylamine
        November 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

        If our productivity weren’t being stolen by an inflationary fiat debt-money system, and squandered by government, and smothered by regulation–I’m certain those fantasies would be real.

        The amount of wealth we could generate without the parasitic Elite class and their control-freak ways would astonish even a Pollyanna optimist.

  31. BrentP
    November 16, 2012 at 2:39 am

    I was going through some old stuff I had saved and found a copy of this video, which is still online:

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/509176/they_call_them_speed_bandits/

    A creative way of slowing drivers down.

    • November 16, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Hilarious!

      And infinitely preferable to Clover…

  32. skunkbear
    November 16, 2012 at 4:16 am

    As usual Eric, a great article.

    Clearly, the engineering is there for both the highways and the cars. It is the damn idiots behind the wheel that are the problem.

    I am stunned on a daily basis at the complete lack of driving skills by the average “motorist”. Any idiot can operate an automobile but I would say that only five percent of licensed drivers in the US actually know how to drive.

    I could go on for a thousand pages writing about the stupidity I have witnessed on the road over the last thirty-five years I have been driving (17 as a pro).

    But the one I notice the most involves women. Go ahead and call me a sexist but is there something in estrogen that prevents women from grasping the concept of the accelerating lane onto the highway? Women seem to think that it is the responsibility of everyone else on the road to slam on their brakes so that miss oblivious-to-the-world-around-her can get onto the interstate at her convenience while going fifteen miles slower than the flow of traffic. Add a cell phone held up to their ear and it doubles their idiot factor.

    Hey, I can only call them as I have seen them. To be genderly (word?!) fair the same can also be said of any men driving minivans.

    And I think there should be only one traffic violation: impeding the flow of traffic. Period.

    Even though I am a practitioner of the non aggressive principle I say that the morons driving in the left lane while going five miles slower than the flow of traffic should be pulled out of their cars and pistol whipped by the public at large. (Every decent person should carry a pistol on them at all times just for this purpose alone.) Only after this swift act of justice can the cops then write a citation for impeding the flow of traffic.

    All other citations are unjust.

    • November 16, 2012 at 10:40 am

      Thanks, Skunk!

      On “operating” vs. “driving”:

      I see this as a sort of feedback loop. The system assumes dumbed-down drivers – so we get more and worse of them. Low expectations leads to low performance.

      If, on the other hand, the idiot laws we have to live with just went away – poof – tomorrow, within a very short time, so would idiot drivers. They’d either get the skills – or get off the roads.

      More deeply, this brings up a secondary – and more serious – problem: Americans (most of them) no longer believe in excellence, in a meritocracy. They believe in egalitarianism. Thus, the most feeble, past-it, addled, inept “operator” must be accommodated. More than that. Drivers must be forced to accommodate operators.

      And here we are…

      • mithrandir
        November 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm

        In some cases, it is possible to accomodate less skilled drivers.

        Simply:
        Keep Right, Pass Left
        (reverse this in the UK)

        If drivers did not impede the travel of others (especially on the interstate in non-traffic jam conditions) it would make smoother travel for all.

        If some people wish travel above the PSL that is generally between them and LEO. Others should not act as self appointed LEOs. Others could call the cops, although I do not think this is appropriate except possibly when erratic driving is observed.

      • BrentP
        November 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm

        The condition applies to most of american society today.

        More people getting on the cart. Fewer pulling it.

        I’m getting tired of pulling.

  33. Tor Munkov
    November 17, 2012 at 4:24 am

    German driving test example.
    http://www.osterberger.org/test.html

  34. November 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    The Authorities set the speed limit way too low. Then, 3/4 of the drivers out there exceed the speed limit. If they wreck, the police then say “See? They were speeding! Speeding was a contributing factor to thisyhere accident!” Then they go out and enforce the speed limits, and pat themselves on the back that they are making the roads safer. Quite bizarre if you ask me.
    My idea is simple: No fines for breaking the rules of the road. But if someone wrecks, the police make the idiot stand at the side of the road with a sign around her neck saying “I caused it.” Then anyone caught in the resulting traffic jam can legally get out and slap the idiot upside the head. After 100 or so good slaps, maybe the idiot will learn to drive.

  35. tony tony tony
    November 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    SPEED LIMITS AND OTHER TRANSPORTATION RULES APPLY TO COMMERCIAL VEHICLES ONLY!! If you don’t want them applied to you, then “quit cha bitchin’ and tighten up ya game”. If you want to be free, you need to learn how to make them pay when they violate your rights. Read the transportation code, rules of criminal procedure,and criminal code. Get jurisdictionary at http://www.jurisdictionary.com . Listen to http://www.ruleoflawradio.com Monday nights 8-10cst is traffic night. Eddie Craig specializes in Texas code, I suggest you contact him so you can better educate your readers. This is not “patriot mythology” If anyone is fighting foreclosure,you should listen Thursday and Fridays.
    Sorry to be obnoxious.Love your site. This is just another area in which conventional wisdom is wrong,very wrong.

    • BrentP
      November 28, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      yes it is very different from conventional wisdom. Now when the cop tells you to do as he says or he hauling you to jail or worse, what then?

      I know the vehicle code well. I’ve been pulled over in my car and on my bicycle by cops enforcing clover law. When I make it clear to them I know they are BSing me they threaten me. Ticket, jail, whatever. They make it clear they have the -power- and that the law is what they say it is.

      Written law is irrelevant. If we went by written law we would have the leverage of which we speak. But we don’t live by written law. We live by word of mouth law backed by perception and violence. So try to tell the cop that these laws don’t apply to you. See what happens. He never read the law. He doesn’t know it. He knows what other people told him. He has the power to kill you and he might go that far to the cheers of all the others who have never bothered to look for how what we are told is the law is a confidence game.

      • Rooney
        November 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm

        And Lord help you if he “feels” you’re a threat to his personal safety.

      • tony tony tony
        November 29, 2012 at 5:13 am

        It isn’t your job to educate the moron with a badge on the side of the road(you should pull onto private property if possible btw). Make it clear for the record that you are not engaged in transportation. If you give him a license it is for ID PURPOSES ONLY. Record the stop if you can, then make him pay later. You have suggestions on how to do so, or just keep whining. If you don’t make them pay nothing will change. Few Texas tidbits 1.warrantless arrest cop is required to take you directly to a magistrate,which they never do. This is one of numerous due process violations which are standard practice. 2. If memory serves, they can’t pull you over just for a tag or plate “violation” 3.Only certain officers are authorized to enforce traffic,but that doesn’t seem to stop others from doing so unlawfully.

        • BrentP
          November 29, 2012 at 5:30 am

          Cops do not care about your finer points of law. There is no ‘pay later’. The judges come from the exact same system as the cops. They will not even look at the written law. They simply will judge based upon what someone else told them is the law. If they know the written law they will be corrupt enough not to admit it in their temple er court.

          The reason so many libertarian minded people end up in prison is they keep believing that these people have a written rule book they have to follow. They don’t.

          Sometimes appealing to the written law might work, but usually I don’t believe it does. Nearly everyone who tries that seems to lose. I’ve tried it. Each time the judge simply refused to read the law or recognize it. Which solves the problem of the written law.

          The law is what they say it is when they say it.

          That’s how boobus americanius cloverius wants it to be.

  36. Paul M
    December 26, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Please understand that all “speed limits” are for ‘commercial traffic’. a ‘driver’ is one that ‘transports’ people or products on the Public’s Highway for gain or profit. I am not a ‘driver’ nor do I ‘transport’ people or products on the Public Highway for gain or profit. I travel in my own private convieance for personal business.If someone is with me, they are my ‘guest’ since they do not pay me, as a ‘passenger’ pays for the transportation service. When will we all learn the real reasons for “SPEED LIMITS” and other “transportation laws” do not apply to private Citizens???

  37. david laumer
    February 1, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Being from Texas fpr all but 5 years of my life, i can attest to the speed limits here. First 130 is a TOLL Road, which is exatly why the “speed limit” is that. Pay first and then drive, just watch for the hogs, deer, and other assorted four legged cheachers that like to come to the road side to eat. Not nice to hit one at any speed. Again its a “PAY” first and then see how ya can mash on it. And it’s only for the first 40 miles from IH 10 north then back to the “posted” limit. Also what a lot of people have missed is IH 10 west of San Antonio all the way to El Paso is “80″ till you run in to the million dollar “ticket writer”. My self, just keep the left door closed and you will be there befor 90% of them anyway. Just my thoughts. Thanks for the chance to post.

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