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Thread: Speed limits and straight talk

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Speed limits and straight talk


    With people who believe that speed, as such, is "dangerous," you'll never win an argument that any speeding ticket is undeserved - or that any posted speed limit might, just possibly, be set too low.

    But here's my approach:

    * A given speed (whether higher or lower) is not, of itself, either "safe" or "unsafe."

    What really matters is the context. For example, driving 55 mph on a highway when it's slicked with ice and you can't much ahead because of heavy fog is very definitely less safe than driving 80 mph on the same highway on a clear, dry day. You're much more likely to get hurt on a skateboard rolling along at 20 mph than you are in a 757 doing 600 mph at 40,000 feet. It's not speed - it's context.

    Driving faster than a number posted on a sign is by definition a violation of the motor vehicle code - but it's by no means necessarily unsafe. A good example is the old 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit for highways, which was repealed in 1995. Most states quickly upped their highway limits to 65 or even 70-75 mph, speeds which prior to '95 had been illegal and ticketable. Did it suddenly become safe to drive 65 or 75 mph - by the stroke of a lawmaker's pen? Of course not. Lawmakers simply ended a farce used to fleece people for breaking a standard that was set well below reasonable and safe rates of travel on a modern highway.

    * Higher speed and increased likelihood of having an accident do not necessarily correlate.

    Case in point: Germany's high-speed autobahns, where the accident rate is the same as (or lower than) that of US highways. Despite often much higher rates of travel - well in excess of 100 mph being routine - the Germans don't get into more accidents than we do.

    It is true, of course, that if you have an accident at higher speed, the likelihood of being injuredor killed increases - but that is a separate question. It does not follow that the faster you drive, the greater your chances of having an accident. Indeed, the group of drivers with the second-worst record for getting into wrecks is seniors - who tend to drive more slowly than other drivers (except teens/young adults who are the most accident-prone group on the road).

    * U.S. highways were designed in the 1950s for average speeds in the 70-75 mph range - assuming 1950s-era cars with 1950s-era suspension technology, brakes and tires.

    Modern cars are vastly superior in all respects. Stopping distances are 30-50 percent (or more) lower than they were; handling is far more stable at higher speeds; tire technology is such that driving at sustained high speeds is virtually risk -free insofar as the chances of tire failure are concerned.

    If a 1950s-era car was deemed "safe" at 70-something mph by the traffic safety engineers who designed the U.S. Interstate Highway System, then surely a late-model car can be driven with equal "safety" at the same speeds - if not considerably faster.

    * Skill and judgment.

    The bottom line, though, is the skill and judgment of the driver involved. A driver with excellent physical skills/ability (great eyesight, excellent sense of spatial relationships, etc.) and who has had professional instruction on a track is
    surely more in control and less a threat to himself and others even when driving at a fast pace than the marginally skilled, untrained "safe" driver who would never think of doing 100 mph, but who routinely wanders across the double yellow line, pulls out in front of fast-moving traffic because of below-average vision/sense of spatial relationships and who is incapable of executing emergency/accident-avoidance manuevers, etc. Such a driver is arguably less "safe" at 55 mph than the high-skilled driver doing 80 mph on the same road under the same external conditions.

    One way to buttress the above argument with hard data is to look at the accident stats for drivers with SCCA (or equivalent) road-racing licenses/training. This group is actually one of the "safest" on the road - if the measure is how often they get into at-fault accidents. Also, there is an insurance industry study that revealed faster drivers tend to have fewere at-fault accidents than slower drivers.

    But of course, the mantra continues to be that "speed" "kills" - and some believe that with the same blockheaded know-nothing fervor of religious nuts who believe the Earth is only about 6,000 years old and that man walked with dinosaurs.

    There's no reasoning with such people.

    They just "know."

    END

  2. #2
    gail
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    I wish the enforcement guys would hold the feet of DOT as closely to the fire as they try to hold the feet of motorists. So often I see dangerous situations that are totally the fault of DOT -- poor road signage, pot holes, lanes that need paint, bushes that need trimmed. etc.

    I agree with Eric that a posted number is meaningless - we all know that at times driving the posted speed limit would be too fast for conditions, so why can't we drive faster if conditions permit. It seems to me that if cops are going to enforce a posted speed limit that they should give ticket for those cars going slower than that number. We all know how silly the latter is, well so is the former just as silly.

    The same hold true with red lights. The purpose of red lights are to move the traffic along and everyone has a fair turn, so what is the big deal, if you've stopped, looked all ways and no one is there, no one is coming then why aren't we permitted to go when safe to do so?

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    Quote Originally Posted by gail
    I wish the enforcement guys would hold the feet of DOT as closely to the fire as they try to hold the feet of motorists. So often I see dangerous situations that are totally the fault of DOT -- poor road signage, pot holes, lanes that need paint, bushes that need trimmed. etc.

    I agree with Eric that a posted number is meaningless - we all know that at times driving the posted speed limit would be too fast for conditions, so why can't we drive faster if conditions permit. It seems to me that if cops are going to enforce a posted speed limit that they should give ticket for those cars going slower than that number. We all know how silly the latter is, well so is the former just as silly.

    The same hold true with red lights. The purpose of red lights are to move the traffic along and everyone has a fair turn, so what is the big deal, if you've stopped, looked all ways and no one is there, no one is coming then why aren't we permitted to go when safe to do so?
    Amen.. and isn't this more enjoyable than arguing about the Sky God?

  4. #4
    mrblanche
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    Quote Originally Posted by gail
    The same hold true with red lights. The purpose of red lights are to move the traffic along and everyone has a fair turn, so what is the big deal, if you've stopped, looked all ways and no one is there, no one is coming then why aren't we permitted to go when safe to do so?
    Because there are sometimes risks you can't see.

    But I took my first driver's license test from an old Texas state trooper who said that all stop signs and stop lights should be replaced with yield signs. He said the first couple of years would be hell, but we'd winnow out the idiots.

    He died of a heart attack while giving a high-school girl a driving test some years later.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    "But I took my first driver's license test from an old Texas state trooper who said that all stop signs and stop lights should be replaced with yield signs. He said the first couple of years would be hell, but we'd winnow out the idiots."

    Natural selection can be a wonderful thing....!



  6. #6
    gail
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by gail
    I wish the enforcement guys would hold the feet of DOT as closely to the fire as they try to hold the feet of motorists. So often I see dangerous situations that are totally the fault of DOT -- poor road signage, pot holes, lanes that need paint, bushes that need trimmed. etc.

    I agree with Eric that a posted number is meaningless - we all know that at times driving the posted speed limit would be too fast for conditions, so why can't we drive faster if conditions permit. It seems to me that if cops are going to enforce a posted speed limit that they should give ticket for those cars going slower than that number. We all know how silly the latter is, well so is the former just as silly.

    The same hold true with red lights. The purpose of red lights are to move the traffic along and everyone has a fair turn, so what is the big deal, if you've stopped, looked all ways and no one is there, no one is coming then why aren't we permitted to go when safe to do so?
    Amen.. and isn't this more enjoyable than arguing about the Sky God?
    I never argue about the Sky God. My absolutes are your fantasies. I can tell that you are progressing though, as you capitalized Deity. 8)

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    "I never argue about the Sky God. My absolutes are your fantasies. I can tell that you are progressing though, as you capitalized Deity. "

    I always capitalize fictional proper nouns!

  8. #8
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    With people who believe that speed, as such, is "dangerous," you'll never win an argument that any speeding ticket is undeserved - or that any posted speed limit might, just possibly, be set too low.
    Ah...but young Luke...you ignore the most politically expedient reason for speed limits...revenue.

    Local municipalities raise untold millions with traffic fines, mostly for over-the-limit infractions. It's easy to measure, not terrbily expensive (everywhere except VA) for the accused to admit, and in case the accused protest the kangaroo courts are rigged in favor of the prosecution in clear violation of the Constitution.

    State governments pass along speeding ticket numbers to impress the Feds so as to continue qualifying for matching grant funds for enforcement sweeps.

    Insurace companies participate as an excuse to raise premiums, in some cases even "donating" radar guns to local government as their goodwill towards public safety.

    The media abet and assist with favorable coverage of "public safety" sweeps and sensationalized stories about accidents attributed to "excessive speed" but which -- in reality -- are more testament to poor judgement of the driver in 47 other areas before speed even became a factor.

    It's a SYSTEM.

    And meanwhile the mindless minions at the NHTSA continue the drumbeat "speed kills".

  9. #9
    gail
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by gail
    I wish the enforcement guys would hold the feet of DOT as closely to the fire as they try to hold the feet of motorists. So often I see dangerous situations that are totally the fault of DOT -- poor road signage, pot holes, lanes that need paint, bushes that need trimmed. etc.

    I agree with Eric that a posted number is meaningless - we all know that at times driving the posted speed limit would be too fast for conditions, so why can't we drive faster if conditions permit. It seems to me that if cops are going to enforce a posted speed limit that they should give ticket for those cars going slower than that number. We all know how silly the latter is, well so is the former just as silly.

    The same hold true with red lights. The purpose of red lights are to move the traffic along and everyone has a fair turn, so what is the big deal, if you've stopped, looked all ways and no one is there, no one is coming then why aren't we permitted to go when safe to do so?
    Amen.. and isn't this more enjoyable than arguing about the Sky God?
    This is like your asking me is taking a shower is more enjoyable than sex - I do both frequently, without any sense of conflict. As well as I serve my God, and take on various political issues, such as motorists' rights.

  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    "Ah...but young Luke...you ignore the most politically expedient reason for speed limits...revenue."

    So true!

    But there are also millions of dupes, who after years of being spoon fed Pabulum that "speed kills!" have bought the whole seedy rationale for the revenue-enhancement machine. That is the root of the problem, in my estimation. Challenge the legitimacy of the system by questioning the validity of the premise and you have done much to undermine the morality of issuing people tickets for "speeding."




  11. #11
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    Re: Speed limits and straight talk

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Quote Originally Posted by gail
    The same hold true with red lights. The purpose of red lights are to move the traffic along and everyone has a fair turn, so what is the big deal, if you've stopped, looked all ways and no one is there, no one is coming then why aren't we permitted to go when safe to do so?
    Because there are sometimes risks you can't see.

    But I took my first driver's license test from an old Texas state trooper who said that all stop signs and stop lights should be replaced with yield signs. He said the first couple of years would be hell, but we'd winnow out the idiots.

    He died of a heart attack while giving a high-school girl a driving test some years later.
    There's a couple of towns in the Netherlands where they have removed all traffic control devices. Cars, bicycles, and pedestrians all share the road, and surprisingly, it works because of the nature of the roads -- they're village roads, not through-streets.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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