My mom, bless her heart, used to observe the speed limits with enough zeal to make Ralph Nader blush. “Do we drive 25 miles per hour? No! We drive 20. That way we are always obeying the law!” Needless to say, I have managed to steer free and clear of her driving habits for well over 20 years. She thinks I’m a control freak… when the truth is she’s just too damn slow.
The slow issue got me thinking about speed limits back in the bad old days of the 1980′s. Between reading various auto magazines at the back of my high school classes, I used to daydream about a better society. Not about serving your fellow man or envisioning world peace. But one where drivers like my mom would just get the hell out of my way. One where the observance of all motoring laws would be based on reason and logic, rather than the short-term needs of a ravenous revenue seeking police state.
A beautiful driving utopia where asphalt and heavier right feet would march in unison towards a quicker commute. Where speed limits would be anywhere between 10 mph to 20 mph higher than today’s superficially low limits. Where a speed limit would indeed become a speed limit.
I realize now in the year 2012 that one man’s 65 mph remains another man’s 85 mph. But why don’t we split the difference at say, 80 mph, and have that slow driver stay to the right where they belong? Why not have those sensory deprived speeds of 25s to 30s become truly safer 35s to 40s? But then have them be limits?
There are obviously a very long line of impediments that would get in the way of it. Insurance companies. Glorified public service organizations. The burdensome thousands of police traps that already dot our fair land. Not to mention my own mother. Maybe even your mother too.
But what if? What if we could have speed limits that encouraged a healthier respect for all the laws within our country? Would such a place be a libertarian paradise? Or would it just be a mild enhancement of today’s driving world where thousands of officers still spend a disproportionate amount of their time on the road?
Today’s question is two-fold, and not easy. Should speed limits be raised upwards and become true limits, and who should set them?