By on February 13, 2014

2013 Taurus Police Interceptor -02- Picture courtesy David Hester

Yesterday, while folks in the Southeast were getting hammered with their second severe winter storm in two weeks, the skies over Buffalo were wonderfully bright and sunny. Of course, when you count the wind chill factor, the temperature barely climbed into the double digits but as a result of the sun and a whole lot of road salt, the highways here were mostly bare and dry. That means my evening commute was a breeze. I hit Route 33 and ran my little CUV up to just over the 55 mph limit and sailed right out of town. Things were going great, but then, unexpectedly, traffic began to slow.

I shifted left into a place I really don’t run that much these days and wicked the speed up to a smidge over 60 in order to keep up the pace. I found myself fourth or fifth back in a line of cars that was whizzing up the fast lane overtaking car after car and, as a student of the road, I began to wonder just what the hell was holding all these people up. I found the reason at the head of the line, a Buffalo City Police cruiser running right at the limit and, like all the good people of the Earth who don’t want a senseless speeding ticket, I found myself easing off the gas. But as I noted his lack of response to all of the cars ahead of me that were simply accelerating away into the wide open space the officer had created, I decided that for whatever reason he simply wasn’t interested in writing tickets and so I continued on, barely adjusting my pace.

Always on the lookout for something that will make a meatier TTAC article than my usual shtick of old time reminiscences, I came home and spent some time on the computer looking at traffic patterns and wondering just how these rolling roadblocks affect the flow of traffic. What, I asked myself, is the point of setting a speed limit that is so low that people simply disobey it as a matter of course? Virtually everyone, I found, pushes the limit and. unless an officer is looking for an excuse to stop a suspicious vehicle, the least of these transgressions are simply ignored and so we receive a sort of tacit approval to speed. Knowing how fast to go can be a problem, however, but most people are pretty good at judging the speeds of the cars around us and we usually just fall into line and run with the crowd. When that happens, people who follow the strict letter of the law become road hazards.

YouTube Preview Image

In 2006, a group of Georgia college students decided to point out the absurdity of the 55 mph speed limit by getting in their cars, lining up next to one another on the interstate and then actually following the rules as they drove around the city of Atlanta. Their Youtube video “A Meditation on the Speed Limit” explains the genesis of their plan and gives us the opportunity to observe first hand as we ride along during their daring act of “civil obedience.” It’s like most amateur videos, shaky, poorly framed and without enough shots of the girls, but its an interesting watch. If you are in a place where you can’t actually view the video now, just know that the beginning has several young people railing about the speed limit and talking about their plan, the middle cuts to the car where we see the kids annoying a whole lot of people and nearly causing an accident as they proceed to back up traffic for miles and miles and then ends with them talking about how great their plan was and how they proved the absurdity of the speed limit.

What grabbed my attention were the reactions of the other drivers around them. We all know the law, American roads generally have signs telling us the limit every few miles, but every driver also understands the unwritten rules of the road that tell us we can exceed that limit in a reasonable way so long as everyone else on the road is running somewhere around that same speed. It is a social norm and, when faced with the rolling road block, the social contract we have with other drivers broke down. People were outraged and they started doing anything they could to break through. They even got downright dangerous at times, a couple of people going so far as to use the breakdown lane to make high speed passes!

Writing this now, had I been driving one of the cars stuck behind them, I’m not sure how I would have responded . I would like to think that I would have enough sense not to make a dangerous and illegal pass, but I probably would have followed too closely, hit the headlights, blared the horn and eventually made some pretty threatening gestures after the blockade ended and the kids were busy patting themselves on the back. This kind of thing really makes me angry. We may be a nation of laws but we are a society of norms and whenever the two clash people can get seriously hurt. It is generally accepted that we get at least 5 to 10 mph over in most cases and we damn well better get it.

The strange thing is that I could find no proof that anyone involved in this stunt was ever punished. I found contradictory statements in the press from Georgia State Police officials who said that it was against the law to block the fast lanes, but that the kids did nothing wrong because they were running at the posted speed limit. I expect similar confusion when we hit the point where our in-car technology is used to report speeding violations or to assess us fines. It will be interesting to see if the government continues to allow us the traditional few over or whether they decide to turn this into a cash-cow and get people for every little infraction. The lure of easy money is there and if the whole traffic camera fight is any indication, some municipalities will take the bait. If people react to that intrusion into their daily lives the way they acted towards these kids’ silly experiment, you can expect a revolution. Let’s just hope it happens in the voting booth.

Obama angry.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

206 Comments on “Testing The Limits Of Civil Obedience: An Experiment...”


  • avatar
    brenschluss

    Thanks Tom. I harp on this topic at every opportunity, and I’m interested to see the discussion it generates. I think the differing mentalities around speed limits are the most dangerous part of driving in this country.

    • 0 avatar

      We at the National Motorists Association did this back in the days of 55. We drove a caravan of cars, about 20 or so, in the RIGHT lane at 55 mph on the New York State Thruway between Albany and New Paltz.. We had signs saying “civil obedience day”, and “repeal 55″. Back in those pre internet days, the TV news folks loved us, and we got a lot of good press coverage. NYSP realized we weren’t Cannonballers, so only sent a Major to give the “55 saves lives” counterpoint to the news folks. We got zero hassle from the law. In private conversations you’d get a lot of support from the uniformed, they disliked 55 as well. The official party line was (and today is still) often quite at odds with the opinion of the guy who actually has to enforce the law.

      The best was how morons would then block the left lane. They weren’t with us, or agreeing with us….they were just oblivious…oblivious to 20 well marked cars with cb antennas (pre cell phones too). We ended up blocking the whole highway-we didn’t account for morons…

      Oh, and to answer the question as a guy who has defended a lot of traffic tickets….70 is the “too fast” in NYC 50 zones. It is also the pull over speed upstate on a 55 road. In 65 zones, 80 is the pull speed. Don’t blame me if you get a 79/55.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Merging onto the A8 as I headed out of Karlsruhe heading to Stuttgart a few years ago really highlights some of the differences in how countries approach speed and traffic control.

    Three cars ahead of me, a vehicle was rounding the curve at a decidedly leisurely pace. A Polizist mounted on his trusty BMW Motorrad pulled alongside the ambling vehicle and began to gesture rather loudly to the driver…to SPEED UP! Not sure you’d ever see that in the States. It seems to me that there is more of a focus on traffic safety rather than income generation.

    As for “civil disobedience” I generally follow the “keep it under 10 MPH over the limit” rule. Of course, here in Saudi Arabia the are NO RULES and I’ve seen things here that simply defy any attempts to describe.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Great point. If we in the US placed more emphasis on alert and safe driving and less on ‘speeding’, I think everyone would be better off.

      …well, except for municipal tax revenues, of course. ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Must be a generational difference, one of my coworkers is an ex New York cop and he told me ( worked during the 70′s ) that he and the guys he worked with really didn’t care how fast the general traffic was moving as long as somebody wasn’t driving recklessly or too slow.

        As for me I usually am in the habit of going 5-10 over on surface roads and 5-15 over on the highway and occasionally faster and the police in my AO certainly don’t mess with you at 5 over although I’ve noticed some police kind of enjoy the sort of indirect control they have over traffic as some will go over, most do the speed limit and some go under the speed limit.

        In one instance I was engaged in a drag race of sorts with a state police officer as we pulled from the light I accelerated at my usual pace which tends to be pretty quick. He lagged then speed up and when I hit my customary no more than five over he made sure he was ahead of me.

        Sometimes I wonder how much indoctrination the police receive on the issue of speed? I can remember when Virginia switched over to a 70 mph speed limit in some areas. I can’t remember the station interviewing a senior state police officer but the guy was visibly distressed over the change and vowed to nail every driver going even a mile over the speed limit.

        In any event I know 10 over in those areas with a 70 mph limit tends to be more rigidly enforced and out of state drivers particularly preyed upon as going 80 mph or faster in Virginia is automatically a reckless driving ticket and particularly expensive as Virginia hid its remedial fine ( if anybody remembers that farce) in the reckless driving charge.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Wow, you have to be doing 25mph over the limit in Indiana, and I believe Ohio as well, to qualify as reckless.

          • 0 avatar
            brux2dc

            Virginia: If (your_speed >= posted_speed + 20 || speed >= 80)
            {
            you = reckless
            }

            Never been messed with going 5 over.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            @brux2dc: good thing I had my Java(script) today! ;-)

            Ohio is mostly “9 you’re fine, 10 your’re mine,” while a colleague of mine who was a cop in a previous life (before a bum knee forced him out) stated that eight-over was also used, depending on quotas amongst the various departments or OHP.

            He also stated what has been stated here: most cops are OK, and won’t bother you for something petty (like five-over), but there are a few rotten apples in the barrel.

          • 0 avatar
            Japanese Buick

            NC uses the same algorithm as VA except change 20 to 15.

            In fact a couple of years ago a state senator introduced a bill to raise the maximum NC speed limit from 70 to 75. To counter the “then everybody will go 85″ crowd his bill left the reckless threshold at 80. That seemed like a pretty tight window to me. The bill died without a vote anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I wish that they would put ads on TV, like “How to merge onto the Interstate”, or “What does a green arrow mean?”, or “What to do when an emergency vehicle approaches you(Explaining what an emergency vehicle is, or course, because a lot of people don’t seem to know)..

        Because a lot of people, everywhere, know none of this shit.

        I wish the local cops would ticket people for not pulling over when they are supposed to, instead of worrying about nonsense like squealing tires as one local PD seems to.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Especially the merging!

          I “overreacted” and ABSed onto the shoulder of the freeway because of sudden braking ahead, in the traffic stream coming off the Ohio Turnpike onto SB I-75, a mile from my offramp, which people use as a big decal. lane. 50mph (in a 65mph) isn’t uncommon, and the other day (when I braked early enough to avoid the car in front of me WITHOUT having to have gone to the side), the speed at which I left the lane itself was ** 35mph!!! **

          I’ve written the Ohio Highway Patrol, suggesting that a two-unit operation, one laser-ing from the turnaround adjacent to the end of the onramp, and the other stationed as a chase vehicle by my exit, would easily pay for itself with a few hours’ work during evening rush to catch these snail-paced idiots! Easy as shooting fish in a barrel!

    • 0 avatar
      xflowgolf

      “Not sure you’d ever see that in the States. It seems to me that there is more of a focus on traffic safety rather than income generation. (regarding Germany)”

      Ding ding ding. we have a winner.

  • avatar

    “What, I asked myself, is the point of setting a speed limit that is so low that people simply disobey it as a matter of course? ”

    LAWS are rules written by man and are designed to be broken.

    For me, that speed limit which is too low for me to obey is “55″.

    They should give out different classes of driver’s licences for people with no accidents on their record, high performance cars and who are willing to pay more for a higher speed limit.

    I’d be willing to pay $200 a year for a license that allows me to legally do 80mph in the left-most lane! On Long Island roads I normally see people doing 80 regularly. I always feel bad for the one turkey who gets caught for being over 65mph.

    Everyone slows down when they see a guy pulled over and then we all speed right back up.

    Stay off the cellphone and keep your eyes on the road and we can handle it!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Sammy Hagar was right!!! (Song came on XM one night during my slog home!! My car and I had a little fun with it!!!! ;-) )

      And definitely..hang the f— up and drive!!!

      (I’m not coordinated enough to manage a stick-shift in traffic once away from a stop!! I sure as hell can’t juggle a phone and drive, and it amazes me how others do!)

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I’ve passed cops before on the highway when they are at the limit and I am slightly over. Never been a problem. In my area, you have to be at least 15 over for them to come after you (my experience anyway). 5-10 I usually get a warning flash of the blues and that’s it. Perhaps I am lucky but that has been my experience.

    Regarding these kids, yes that would have pissed me off and I too would hit the horn, lights and ultimately (if close enough), head for the breakdown lane to get around them. No need for that. Revolutions are always ugly and I hope the only ones we see are indeed at the voting booth (even though voting is just a wash/rinse/repeat affair anyway).

  • avatar

    Reminds me of an old question I was asked:

    If you’re driving through a desert – and you come up to a stop sign – but you see no one else on the road for miles- DO YOU STOP?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It becomes a question of fuel conservation. I owe it to my fellow Americans to run that stop sign and fly thru that red light like it wasn’t even there.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnAZ

      Here is another variation of that question.
      You come up to an intersection where the traffic lights are malfunctioning and flashing red. The rule is to treat as a four way stop and everyone takes turns.
      Before you stop you see that there is clearly no cars stopped or approaching the intersection from the left or the right and no one in the left turn lane facing you.
      Should you be required to stop for something that is not there.
      By the letter of the law…Yes
      By common sense…???
      I just slow and go and get crazy reactions.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I’m faced with this question every day. I use a country road that crosses an abandoned railroad spur, but has a stop sign at the crossing. The road is mostly used by locals who know the spur is abandoned, yet most people still come to a complete stop at the crossing, I don’t, because I felt like an idiot when I did

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        We have a few rail road crossing like that here. I just slow down enough to not kill the suspension on my truck and go.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Stop; because it’s the law and because you may never know if or when that line may be re-activated. Too many people have died at “abandoned rail crossings” because they’d never been told it was active again.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          There’s a video out there someplace, I can’t find it now, about that very thing. They reactivated tracks that were “mothballed” for like 8 years, and homeowners who bought houses built next to the tracks were all wound up over “decreased property values”, and that a couple of kids got pasted by a train that came through the area, even though the gates were down and the crossing lights were on! The driver survived, and he said, “I didn’t think there were trains there anymore!”, ignoring the brand new lights and crossing gates installed over a month before. And the 15-20 trains running daily. His house was 3 houses away from the tracks! Talk about being unaware of what’s happening around you..

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Odds are good that he believed himself to be an above average driver with good judgment prior to the crash.

            Odds are equally good that he continued to believe that after the crash.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            ” ignoring the brand new lights and crossing gates installed over a month before”

            “Odds are good that he believed himself to be an above average driver with good judgment prior to the crash. ”

            No, odds are he is a total idiot for not heeding the warning signs that a formally inactive line was about to become active and the flashing lights indicating that not only was the line active there was a train there at that very moment. You can’t fix stupid

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I didn’t say that he was good. I said that he probably thinks that he’s good.

            This is a common problem on both the internet and in the real world. It’s always the other guy who’s the bad driver.

            Just about everyone posting here believes himself to be above average or better. Statistics would suggest that many of those self-assessments are not likely to be accurate.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’ll slow down a bit while looking, but if there’s no soul in sight, no way. Same applies to deserted traffic lights on lonely roads at 3am.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’ll stop–especially at the lights. Then if they don’t change within about 90 seconds I “proceed with caution”.

        I’ve seen far too many crashes by people running lights and signs because “I didn’t see anyone coming”. Too many of them were fatal.

        • 0 avatar
          FuzzyPlushroom

          Yep, same here. 3 AM, zero traffic, provided I know the area? A traffic light is a stop sign. Of course, I do come to a complete stop and look twice in each direction, especially if the speed limit’s over 40ish. If visibility is poor, I’ll wait.

          That’s the only rule I (very rarely) break, aside from doing 10-20% over the speed limit at times.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You’d better stop. I had an uncle killed by somebody that didn’t stop at a 4-way out in the middle of nowhere. Just because you can’t SEE someone at the intersection doesn’t mean they’re not there; some feature of the landscape may be hiding that cross-vehicle from view.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I wouldn’t do such a thing in an area where there are obstructions, not even take a chance. If you saw the intersections near my place where I sometimes do this, you’d understand.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        It should go without saying that visibility is the limiting factor. Thin air cannot block your view, and not every intersection has limited visibility.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s not so much the visibility issue that gets people into trouble, it’s the rush. They take a quick glance instead of a long look and then, blammo, right in the kisser. Whenever I find myself beginning to rush, I take a deep breath and force myself to slow down and do it right. Sure, I might not be able to get out onto the road before some granny in her Buick slips past well under the limit and pulling 50 cars along behind her, but I miss killing the kid riding his bicycle towards traffic on the hard shoulder that I would have seen if I had taken the time to really take a good look to my right.

          From my experience, because I grew up in the woods and there really is no visibility at those desolate intersections, I make the stop every time.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Edit

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            It’s been sort of your situation all over the Midwest here in the last few weeks, with all the snow we’ve had–the piles at most corners are as tall as an SUV, and you damn near have to stick your hood halfway out into the intersection to see traffic! :-p

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          We’d have fewer deaths on American highways if the average driver didn’t believe himself to be too good to obey signs.

          The issue is that roads are safer when it is recognized that some vehicles have priority over other vehicles. If two vehicles arrive at an intersection, each driven by individuals who believe that the right of way rules make no difference, then they are more likely to crash.

          I don’t want my safety to be dependent upon your judgment (particularly given your belief that marijuana and driving belong together.) Your judgment isn’t particularly good, and I’d like to remove as much of it from the safety equation as possible.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            We’d have fewer average drivers believing they’re smarter than traffic law if it weren’t so easy to find examples of laws that either don’t align with reality or penalize behavior that cannot be proven dangerous.

            You could have saved your energy on that second paragraph, too:

            “If two vehicles arrive at an intersection, each driven by individuals who believe that the right of way rules make no difference, then they are more likely to crash.”

            Am I supposed to disagree with this? No one has said that right of way does not matter: you’ve extrapolated that because I might not stop for a sign in some fake flatlands scenario where we can see for miles down each road leading to an intersection in the middle of the desert, that now I believe stop signs are meaningless and anarchy should rule the four-way stop. No. That’s silly.

            You’ve even taken the same weird black-and-white stance on pot. I never said marijuana and driving “belong together,” as if driving just ain’t driving without a joint, maaaan, but you’ve decided that because I can see shades of grey I’m just a loon.

            You don’t have to trust my judgement, but your safety will always depend on the people around you, and people will never respond well to rules that do not take natural behavior into account. And if I’m the one being unreasonable here, then I guess we’re all screwed.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s highly unfortunate that judgment is a component of driving. (This is a key factor behind the push for driverless cars.)

            The argument isn’t whether judgment is inherent to driving — sadly, it is — but how to make it as irrelevant as possible. And that gets a lot harder when we have guys like you who believe that they are better than the law, and who will surely make excuses and otherwise fail to learn their lesson when they screw up.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Look at the original video. If not one person on that road is willing to obey that speed law, what good is it doing?

            This has nothing to do with anyone thinking they’re “better than the law,” though I appreciate that you care enough to try and make it personal- there are laws which are ignored and even mocked en masse, by everyone. That’s not a problem with the people, it’s a problem with those laws. You said as much yourself below talking about politicians creating speed laws rather than traffic engineers.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Pch101, what about my situation with the stop sign at the abandon rail road crossing. Should I stop even though the chances of a train going through is less then zero and if a ghost train came through I could easily see it with no obstruction, or should I stop because the sign says so?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            There’s no comparison between speed limits and stop signs.

            Highway speed limits generally should be set based upon the prevailing speeds of traffic — any traffic engineer would tell you that.

            In contrast, rights of way are sometimes somewhat arbitary by nature. Someone needs to be given priority, and there are times when that someone won’t be you. A grownup would accept the inherent wisdom of managing rights of way, and get over it.

            Hopefully you can accept that driving on the “wrong” side of the road is not inherently wrong per se, yet it is nonetheless an important regulation, even if the side chosen in your jurisdiction doesn’t suit your fancy. Having everyone make his own personal judgment call based upon personal whim or mood would be a wrongheaded idea, for obvious reasons.

            If you don’t like a particular stop sign, then go complain about it. Others may be making judgments based upon the assumption that you will stop. Surely, your schedule isn’t so precious that you can’t halt your vehicle for five seconds.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            As I said farther up, Lie: Stop. The life you save may be your own.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            If there was the remotest possibility of danger to myself or others I would of course stop, but there clearly isn’t. When I first started driving this road I did stop there on a country road with no cars or trains in sight I stopped and after doing this a few times began to feel foolish, so now I don’t stop. Three years later, no incident, no problem, no stopping

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            *sigh*

            Again. No one has argued against right-of-way. No one has argued against stop signs or the importance of traffic law in general. Stop it. This is not constructive debate.

            What started this was the question of coming to a halt when you ARE reasonably able to evaluate a situation and determine that there is no one else present. This is a situation that happens to pretty much every driver, and each will use their judgement when they encounter this. You don’t trust any driver to be able to meet the prerequisite of evaluation. I’ve gotten your take on it now. Thanks for weighing in.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I was replying to Vulpine, but thanks

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I know, I was responding to Pch again. Should have specified.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Lol…

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            A few years ago I spent some time touring the Netherlands. Only saw a couple of Stop signs over the entire trip. I did however see a lot of Yield signs. And now that’s how I treat stop signs if there’s nobody around.

            Like Thomas says, the key is to not hurry. Take a breath, and be ready to stop as needed. But America’s penchant to plant stop signs at Every. Frickin. Intersection. has gotten out of hand.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            One of the problems with bad driving habits is that they aren’t like touching a hot stove. People can make the same errors a hundred times in a row without suffering any consequence. Their failure to pay the price merely gives them confidence that they are superior drivers with outstanding judgment, when in fact they simply haven’t yet had the odds catch up with them.

            If you don’t like a particular stop sign, then go complain about it. But you should obey it until it has been removed.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “No one has argued against right-of-way.”

            Sure you have.

            The stop sign restricts your right of way. You have contempt for that restriction.

            If you can’t even be honest about what your position is, then that provides even less confidence in your judgment. I’m sure that you when you do blow it that you’ll blame the other guy and otherwise try to avoid responsibility, as there is no way that someone with your terrific powers of observation could possibly be at fault.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I don’t just drive through stop signs, and I don’t know how you’ve inferred that I do. I don’t even live anywhere near the completely hypothetical scenario originally presented, so I don’t have the opportunity. I’m actually in the same boat as Thomas, I’m in the forest and you can’t see around most corners, so you stop.

            You’re just making shit up at this point.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            @Pch101 If the restriction is ridiculous of course I have contempt for it. Unless someone can give me a valid reason a restriction exists I might just not go along with it. I’ve even gotten really daring and made U-turns on those expressway gravel crossovers where the sign says “Authorized Personnel Only” because no one has ever told me that I wasn’t authorized.

            You know everything isn’t always black and white. Sometimes there are grey areas that force you to use a little grey matter to work through it. I’m beginning to think that no matter what the subject you find “grey areas” very unnerving and uncomfortable

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Sometimes there are grey areas that force you to use a little grey matter to work through it”

            The shade of gray is that there are processes for changing the law. If you find something wrong, then go change it.

            This is supposed to be a nation of laws. These laws were created by representatives who were elected and by courts that are bound to follow the federal and state constitutions.

            If nobody respects the law or the process for amending it, then the system fails. I’m sure that you won’t be happy if some other guy decides to violate a law that he doesn’t like, and that action comes at your expense.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Actually the grey area in this instance is called a “yield sign,” but you must be vehemently against those since they require a human to judge the situation before them.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            An excellent example of a “grey area” traffic law

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I don’t have a problem with replacing some stop signs with yield signs, and with replacing quite a few signalized intersections and four-way stops with roundabouts. (I’m a big fan of roundabouts.)

            I do have a problem with those who think that a stop sign isn’t a stop sign if they personally dislike it. If you dislike the stop sign, then go to the appropriate court or level of government, and get it changed.

            Until then, suck it up and understand that being a grownup in a democracy sometimes includes dealing with things that don’t always make us happy.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Sweet, a pissing match. I’d like to add that there are dangerous road signs out there, usually added after a fatality because local pols felt some action was called for. There’s a great example near me of a rural yield that was converted to a stop which now leaves you exposed to high speed traffic for a long period of time and dramatically increases the speed differential of joining traffic. None of the locals obey the stop and we’re all safer as a result. For context it’s an uphill joining of a rural road onto a banked corner taken at speed with excellent sight lines. There is always loose surface at the stop making a swift acceleration from a stop even more problematic.

            Fwiw civil disobedience is a very effective tactic for bringing irrational laws to attention and hopefully an end. The 55 limit is one of the better examples, but there are literally dozens. Prohibition would be another.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            What worries me is when people don’t know what to do when they and two other cars get to a four-way Stop at the same time.

            (Hint..the driver to your right has the right-of-way. Same in aviation or nautical navigataion.)

            Just to make things clear, I will try to keep “creeping” forward if possible, in order to give the other drivers “the stop” first. It either turns into a horn-blowing match, or you end up going in fits and starts until you or the other driver figure out who will proceed! :-p

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            ” (I’m a big fan of roundabouts.)”

            Face-palm

            … the bane of civilized society

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Roundabouts reduce both crash rates and crash severity.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Not where I come from

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You come from the US, don’t you?

            In that case, yes, they do work there, too.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Studies show that by staying home traffic injuries and fatalities are reduced by 100%

            We get it, you’re an anti-car shill planted here by “We Walk the World” to recruit weak-minded car enthusiasts into your underworld of subversive counter-culture pedestrians who’ll stop at nothing until they rule the planet and enslave all the happy free-thinking motorists.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If everybody walked, then we wouldn’t have much of a need for roundabouts.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Why, don’t they facilitate the flow of pedestrian traffic greatly reducing the number of fatalities caused by tramplings?

            See, you didn’t think I knew about that. Get the motorists to build the stupid circles so you pedestrians will already have them up and running when you establish your evil empire

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The motorists are driving too fast to construct the circle. The most that we can ask of them is to avoid colliding with the round thing in the middle.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Pch101: You forgot to mention that a roundabout is also about 150% faster for getting traffic safely through the intersection as a 4-way stop–PROVEN by multiple sources and demonstrated by the Mythbusters.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “The most that we can ask of them is to avoid colliding with the round thing in the middle.”

            You mean the bout? Yes, colliding with the bout is one many hazards they create. They also are, by design, anti-pedestrian leaving no place for them to cross… UNLESS you eliminate the car, that’s how I figured out what you people were up to

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “They also are, by design, anti-pedestrian leaving no place for them to cross”

            On the contrary, roundabouts are designed with safety islands between traffic lanes, so that pedestrians have a place to wait in the middle of each spoke, instead of having to get across the entire road in one shot. Roundabouts are better for everyone concerned.

            I assume that you’re confusing roundabouts with rotaries. Rotaries are a safety hazard, but having a circle in the middle doesn’t make them roundabouts.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Per Wikipedia…

            “In U.S. dictionaries the terms “roundabout”, “traffic circle” and “rotary” are synonyms.”

            Yes, I must be confused

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Type “rotary vs. roundabout” into your favorite search engine, and you’ll see what I mean.

            In summary, a rotary is an old pre-WWII US design that was meant to keep traffic moving quickly through intersections and turns. This was a collosally bad idea.

            The modern roundabout was invented by the Brits (who had equally bad luck with the rotaries that they had copied from the Yanks), who had the good sense to use a smaller circle in order to slow down traffic. This has since been widely copied throughout much of the world except for here, and is the envy of American traffic engineers who would love to see more of them.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Multi-lane roundabouts are just another hint that God has a sense of humor and it ain’t necessarily benign.

            You wait till an enormous boom generation gets into its dotage and then spring multiple, daily decisions involving avoidance of at least property damage. Spatial processing, focusing agility and speed of cognition based upon it, estimations of mass and force headed towards you… what could go wrong?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I take it that you’re getting your share of the dreaded little roundabouts in your neck of the woods. Are they putting them out in the middle of nowhere where the only cross-traffic is the occasional tractor as well?

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    There are several sides to this.

    For one it used to bother me but it’s not a big deal. In Ontario, the freeway limits are an absurd 100kph, but I rarely take off the cruise control at 125 to pass a police car going 120. Sometimes I go 130, even 140 if I feel like it, but at that point I’m playing the game and I know it.

    Don’t speed in a school zone though, in Canada that will get you a ticket.

    I do understand that in some states the local police are dickheads (maybe due to being on quotas). They hide out right where the limit drops, they let go a 1995 explorer with a shot suspension on bald tires towing a box trailer going 9mph over, but ticket your ass going 10 over in late model, well kept sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The most ridiculous traffic law in ontario is what they call their “street racing initiative”. Get caught going more than 150 kph (94 mph) on the mostly 6-8 lane 401 and you get your car impounded for 7 days on the spot, and a charge that carries a minimum $2,000 fine. It’s been ruled unconstitutional several times yet they continue to charge people with it. Even if you’re acquitted, you’re still wihtout your car for 7 days and stuck with an impound fee.

  • avatar
    Hamilton Guy

    I don’t know about the traffic laws in various states but in Ontario, Canada what those students were doing is actually a violation of the Highway Traffic Act, which states:
    S 148 (2) Every person in charge of a vehicle or on horseback on a highway who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian traveling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the overtaking vehicle or equestrian to pass.

    In plain words, get over to the right you “left lane bandits”.

    Of course, the reference to an equestrian wanting to pass, creates the mental image of booting along the left lane of the freeway and seeing a horse in your rear view mirror wanting to pass, hilarious.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnAZ

      Try driving 20 over in a Mustang in British Columbia.
      I was once in the front of a pack of cars doing about 20 over when an RCMP cruiser going the other way picked me up on his dash radar. He spun around after he passed the pack then accelerated through the pack till he got to me to pull me over.
      Less than an hour later I was at the back of another pack and another RCMP cruiser did the same thing, but this time he picked me off of the back of the pack.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        As the popular meme goes “Because Mustang” although I’ve noticed that I get less flack driving my GT500 than I ever did in my regular run of the mill Mustangs.

        I attribute this to a median owners age being well into the 50′s and 60′s compared with the GT and V6 cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon Fage

        Got two speeding tickets in my grabber blue V6 Mustang, one for 10 km/h over and the other for 14 over. Traded for a silver F150 and now can pass by police at 20 km/h over and not even be noticed. Impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Ohio has a law on the books for moving over if you are slower traffic. Not sure if it is enforeced but if the Ohio State Patrolman is at the speed limit in anything less than ideal conditions you cannot pass.

      With a couple inches of mostly packed snow I was doing 65 mph, which is the speed limit, when I came up behind a OSP cruiser who stepped it up to 55 mph. He was in the right lane of three as I attempted pass on the left a couple of times but it was just too soft for my Dunlop M3 shod C5 Corvette. I eventually did pass and was pulled over and was let off with a warning. I asked a co-worker about passing a cruiser in the snow who has a son who is a trooper and he said he heard about you as I tried to pass his son’s superior. My co-worker says you are not supposed to pass OSP troopers. Now I know! From now on when on a road trip and 20+ over I just pull off at the nearest gas station to fuel up and haven’t yet caught the wolf pack I was trying to avoid.

      Of course I run Waze on my smart phone and usually they are already marked in the area. If not I don’t mind tagging their location while follow them. Especially if they are using instant-on radar on oncoming traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        The trooper pulled you over because he wanted to confirm you really are an imbecile.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Actually he was jealous his Crown Vic was not the fastest accelerating RWD on mostly packed snow. When he let me go I accelerated as fast I could and could see he was trying to keep up as headlights were pointing side-to-side. Then turned around and did a 180 the first chance he could.

          He told me he was on his way to a riot. Wooster College(private) President says that school will be canceled when the main entrance is blocked from heavy snow fall. The students trying to fill the area and what usually turns out to a snowball fight.

        • 0 avatar
          AlternateReality

          The officer’s first words: “You got a Trifecta Tune in that?”

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    TK – What’s up with the demonic image of the President at the end of this piece on speed limits and traffic?

    Where I live speed limits are set locally via TXDOT. Freeway speed limits through the center of town are 55 mph. On most days, including weekends, traffic congestion is so bad that you’d be lucky if it is flowing at 45 MPH through the downtown area. It’s usually moving between 25 and 30.

  • avatar
    redav

    Speed limits don’t bother me much. I do generally expect people to drive at about the speed limit:
    - Everyone driving the same speed is the safest condition, and I can appreciate that.
    - If you drive slower, especially on the freeway, you should get off that road and take one with a speed limit matching the speed you are going to drive. (Around here we have continuous frontage roads with speed limits around 45-50. There are people who do 50 on the freeway, and frankly, they ought to just take the frontage road.)
    - If you drive much faster, especially in traffic, I have to wonder why. It really doesn’t save much time, and most of them end up being rolling hazards (as opposed to rolling roadblocks). I’ve noticed these folks are also the ones who don’t look past their bumper–they don’t see the red light or the stopped traffic ahead; they don’t know their exit is in under half a mile. That’s a lousy combination to deal with.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      In many ways I’m much like you, redav. However, where I live has some interesting conundrums. The state in which I live has 65 mph speed limits on the freeway outside of metropolitan areas and typically 55 within them. That’s fine. Interestingly, the vehicles I drive offer their most comfortable highway rides at about that speed (though my Jeep Wrangler really prefers 45mph if it just wants to loaf along and get REALLY good gas mileage.)

      However, the next state over locks the speed limit to 55 and typically has a speed ‘trap’ set up about two miles from the state line to catch those used to going 10-over in the 65mph state–meaning they’re doing 75 in a 55 zone. After about 10 miles at 55, a ‘loop’ route past the city center bumps it back up to 65 before crossing into yet a third state (after crossing a river) or a fourth on the other side of the city–both of which start at 55 and one which maintains that 55 until well past a major (I mean really big) metropolitan area.

      Interestingly, the drivers on this freeway tend to still average 70mph through these 55 zones and typically brake HARD to slow to 55 when they see a trooper (usually too late to avoid getting caught on radar). You can imagine the chaos when one of these people is really pushing that limit and then trying to slow down–in front of a wolf pack. I’m riding at the speed limit in the right-most lane and still end up having to brake because of the chaotic reactions of others.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        We get that type of thing, too, except it is atop each overpass. It’s known that cops sit hidden by the overpass and catch people as they crest & accelerate down the back side. The result is that everyone brakes when the top the pass, and if there’s no cop, they accelerate till the next overpass.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        There are no states with 55 mph speed limits any more.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          ” There are no states with 55 mph speed limits any more.”

          Other than California I guess .

          I was zizzing up the Pasadena freeway @ 01:30 this morning and noticed a 55 limit sign and was thinking of this very thread…..

          -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Traffic engineers expect you to drive about 10 over, FWIW.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The majority of people have a decent general sense of what an appropriate speed is in regular road conditions. That’s isn’t always the speed limit. We all know that 80 mph + is fairly common on highways that are marked 65-75mph, yet many jurisdictions refuse to raise the speed limits because of the fear that if people are exceeding the limit by 10 mph at 70, they’ll certainly run 90 when the limit is 80.

    Well, the states that raised their limits studied traffic violations and found that people didn’t continue to exceed the limit by the same margins, their speeds didn’t change much. Compliance with traffic laws increased, and fatalities were unaffected. There are numerous reports that confirm this, they illustrate that the posted speed limit isn’t really the governor of the limit people will drive.

    If it’s unreasonably low, they’ll break it, if it’s set approriately, they’ll obey it. It’s possible that jurisdictions that refuse to acknowledge this may not actually want people to obey the speed limit.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Remember that “appropriate speed” is not a single value but rather changes for road/weather/traffic/lighting/etc. conditions. Since the speed limit is basically static (some electric speed limit signs can change and paint/reflectivity can be adjusted so it reads differently in the day or at night), the state has to balance the factors. Whenever we see these mass pileups (in snow, fog, etc.) it’s due to the “majority of people” not having a general sense of an appropriate speed–for people to have that sense, they have to know the hazards, and if they don’t know them all, they will not pick an appropriate speed.

      The study you refer to gets whipped out a lot, but I’m not convinced it’s as conclusive as so many think. I don’t doubt its results, but I do doubt those results are universally applicable (e.g., have they done continuing followups to see if behavior is still constant, does it apply to every road where people speed or just the obvious ones that needed increased speed limits, etc.). I believe roads should have the ‘right’ speed limit, not just higher because most people speed there. Unfortunately, that viewpoint doesn’t yield simple results or answers that satisfy most people.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I didn’t forget that, I did mention regular road conditions. As in, clear visibility and roads. Of course averse weather throws a wrench into the mix, and creates unpredictability. Special “snow” speed limits aren’t really feasible or practical, so we’ll always have to rely on people to use their judgement to a significant degree. More education, less enforcement.

        The data in the study referenced in the article beloed was accumulated over several years from 100 sites in 22 states. Seems like a fairly diverse sample group.

        http://www.motorists.org/speed-limits/effects-raising-lowering

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          In Illinois the maximum speed limit was 65mph, everyone drove 80mph. Jan 1, they raised it to 70mph, everyone still drives 80mph

          • 0 avatar
            wp8thsub

            In west Texas, the freeway speed limit has been 80 for some time, and more recently Utah raised the limit to 80 on certain rural freeways. At least at first, UT put up signs about how the 80 zones were serving as a test.

            In both cases, 80 will often make you the fastest vehicle around. Driving elsewhere in the mountain west, rural interstates are typically posted 75, and traffic tends to move about 80 or just over.

            In parts of Nevada and Idaho I’ve been on two-lane roads signed at 70 or 75, which, given the lack of traffic out in the sticks, also coincides with typical speeds people drive anyway. Then you have Oregon, which stubbornly posts those same roads at 55 once you hit the border. It’s a nice welcome to the only state besides NJ where you can’t legally pump your own gas.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I know you said regular road conditions, but as you note, special condition limits are impractical, and you seem to fail to see the conflict/liability associated with setting a single limit that is applicable only to the ideal while having knowledge that it will be inadequate for non-ideal conditions. I cannot fault the state for picking lower limits that are applicable for more of the distribution curve than simply the peak. (That’s not too difficult a statistics problem, and it communicates much more information.)

          Regarding ideal conditions, you mention clear visibility and roads. That’s only part of the true local hazard. There are many more hazards, and education is inadequate to communicate them, and if people don’t know them, they cannot drive at an appropriate speed. That’s why education/training doesn’t improve safety stats anywhere near as much as engineering controls. Consider Jack’s recent accident. Was he not educated enough? Not skilled enough? Was the speed limit too high/low? Or was it simply that he did not have sufficient knowledge of the specific conditions to correctly determine/execute the appropriate driving speed, path, etc.? Another example is the hog hazard on Texas’ first toll road with a limit of 85. They thought the limit was appropriate for a straight, flat, clear road, but they didn’t know they had to watch out for 300 lb pigs on the road. The assumption that people know all the hazards to be able to act accordingly is a very significant problem.

          I am aware of the large study that used national data (22 states seems small, IMO). I do not know of the studies that have tracked those locations over time (as opposed to before/after speed limit changes). Also, I do not know of studies that identify why sections are good/bad candidates for increased speed limits and correlate those factors with the change in accident rates.

        • 0 avatar
          S1L1SC

          Why not?
          Germany has conditional speed limits on a lot of the interstates – they are lower “when wet” and therefore change based on weather conditions. Just takes an extra sign.

          I really like the electronic signs though – I think a lot of US cities would really benefit from those, as you then can adjust limits to conditions, traffic volume, etc. perfectly.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        A few places have variable speed limits, but this is not a perfect solution. For one thing,the signs are much more expensive than a dumb ol’ painted sign. What are helpful are signs that warn of problems ahead, especially fog and accidents, are must useful. The NJ turnpike was one of the early users of such warnings, and also has variable speed limits.

        I do think most people adjust their speed to the road conditions. about 10 years ago, I did a drive from Washington DC to Los Angeles in about 2 1/2 days. I noticed that in states with 75 mph speed limits (such as Texas, Oklahoma) few people drove over 80.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Just after Michigan started setting their limits to 80th-percentile speeds (meaning 70mph on rural Interstates, like between the Ohio border and the Wayne County line). Traffic was doing around the usual 80mph in that stretch, and in northern Macomb County, I set my cruise at the usual 72mph which I do when I’m not road-tripping — and guess what, the rest of the traffic was falling in lock-stop, same speed as I’d seen when both stretches were posted 65mph.

          Ohio recently adjusted the limits upward on rural Interstates (70) and rural non-Interstate routes (60). In both cases, no new speed demons created from the lower limits (65 and 55, respectively).

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      That brings to mind the story of a lawyer in Arkansas that got caught by a speed trap at the bottom of a pretty steep hill. Since he was planning to meet his father, a state judge, for a fishing trip he phoned his father and warned him of the speed trap. Well, the judge got caught by that exact same speed trap even after the warning–at which point the local jurisdiction learned it’s not nice to piss off a judge. That town is now not permitted to collect any more than 20% of its city revenues from traffic violations AND had to move the speed limit sign to the top of the hill, eliminating the conditions setting up the trap.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I travel all over for the US for a living. I find that it really doesn’t matter what the speed limit is, the majority of traffic will be running 70-75 on the interstate. But for the most part, no matter if you are in a 65 zone in New England or a 75 zone out West, traffic is doing 70-75. There are DEFINITELY exceptions. In non-rush hour traffic parts of I-95 might as well be the Autobahn (MA, NJ in particular). Though even there, it is probably only a slightly higher percentage of cars that are doing 85-90.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    This Georgia example is not civil disobedience, it is civil obedience.

    In Georgia cars in the passing lane only have to move over if they are going below the speed limit. And that has only been the law since 2010, while, as pointed out, this video was shot in 2006.

    http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/government/2010-02-02/ga-bill-would-impose-75-fine-blocking-fast-lane

    http://www.mit.edu/~jfc/right.html

    Anyway, this is the kind of protest where people WANT to get busted. The $75 ticket (no big downside) just helps make the point and get more media attention. And then they get to go to court and claim: “I did not want to block the passing lane, but the guy next to me was going 55, and I cannot legally go above 55, or legally go below the speed limit in the passing lane, so there was no way to get over.”

    In addition to stupid speed limits Georgia also has stupid passing lane laws (see the states in green on the MIT chart for examples of good passing lane laws), which make it legal to do this kind of thing to protest the stupid speed limits.

    I guess the stunt was slightly dangerous, but less dangerous than when a cop decides to screw with people by driving exactly the limit in the slow lane, getting everyone in the passing lane to slam on their brakes (instead of the normal police protocol of speeding above the flow of traffic, blipping the siren to blow red lights, etc.) or a cop decides to make a hidden speed trap, instead of being out in the open, causing people to slam on their brakes at the last minute on freeways.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Also, the problem is not the speed limit, but the fact that so many people want to drive faster than the limit. If people actually wanted to drive that speed, their demonstration would have shown nothing.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “…lining up next to one another on the interstate and then actually following the rules as they drove…”

    This was an experiment? Where I live most people think it’s one of the rules of the road. The only legal contradiction I can think of is that the left lane is for passing, if you’re not passing please move to the right

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “The only legal contradiction I can think of is that the left lane is for passing, if you’re not passing please move to the right”

      It’s amazing to me how this etiquette varies so greatly from country to country. In the US and Canada, people will happily clog up the left lane at or below the speed limit and REFUSE to move over, forcing cars to pass on the right. For the most part, we as North Americans accept this as a part of daily life.

      In most parts of Europe, that kind of behavior is strictly prohibited and enforced by the law in some cases, but more vehemently by social norms when people quickly pile up around that driver and collectively lose their sh1t.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        I was recently carpooling with a coworker who was slow riding in the left lane, and he mentioned that he knew it’s against convention but that’s just how he rolls. He’s one of the smartest and nicest guys I know, I was just flabbergasted. I think it’s partly due to the fact that the right lanes on our interstate is beat to hell.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Lane usage rules vary from state to state. In some places, you cannot block traffic regardless of speed. In some places, you can only use the left lane if you are in the process of passing. In other places, if you drive slower than the general flow of traffic (regardless of limit), you must use the right-most lane. In some places, there is no legal requirement or expectation regarding lane usage.

      A very common mistake made by interneters is the assumption that the law is the same everywhere (which it isn’t), and also that what they’ve been told is actually the law. There are things I was taught in drivers ed that were wrong when I actually looked up the code. I’ve also found cases where I’ve looked up code and found it had been changed since the prior time I had researched it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        This is so true, I was taught in driver’s ed when making a left at an intersection (traffic lights present) that you were to pull 2/3 the way into the intersection and wait for an opportunity to make your left. Then I moved to where you waited behind the stop line to make your left

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I was taught that exact thing, too. Then when I was in such a situation, I got hit by a guy who ran the red light. The cop ticketed me for failing to yield. I checked the code, and there was little if anything there to defend me.

  • avatar
    JohnAZ

    To me, nothing is more mindless or dangerous than trying to stay exactly at the speed limit on roads that are well designed to easily handle speeds that are 20% to 30% higher while other drivers are very comfortable in their modern cars at those higher speeds.
    My personal rule is to try to drive so that if a reasonable cop was following me for several miles, he would judge my driving as attentive and safe for the road and traffic conditions.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    “What, I asked myself, is the point of setting a speed limit that is so low that people simply disobey it as a matter of course?”

    I’m sorry but there is NO speed limit that people will not disobey as a matter of course. If the SL is 55, everyone wants to drive 70. If you bump it to 70, everyone will suddenly drive 80. Make the nationwide speed limit 100, and everyone will drive 120. It’s some strange part of modern human behavior.

    The exceptions of course being those who are going to chug along at 55 no matter WHAT the posted limit is on the highway.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      And this is the heart of the problem. In the US we are so averse to wasting time that we’ll go to any lengths that convince us we’re being efficient, whether it’s speeding or using our phones or finishing our morning toilet via shaving/makeup. We want to get away with whatever we can in the name of expediency, and it can seriously cloud our judgement.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Studies have shown that that phenomenon isn’t really true.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnAZ

      I totally disagree with you kvndoom.
      I believe most intelligent drivers understand that there is a reasonable speed limit for any given roadway based on pavement condition, sight-lines, weather conditions, traffic etc., and most people in decent modern cars will drive at that speed. I think that speed is generally 20-30% over the posted speed limit.
      It seems to me that speed limits were set back in the 50s and have never been updated to keep up with modern cars and tires.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think if we tried to increase speeds nationwide, through a concerted effort to “modernize” them, we’d have A) a lot more accidents with old people who CANNOT handle the speed. And B) an outcry from green people railing against the higher level of fuel consumption.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “I’m sorry but there is NO speed limit that people will not disobey as a matter of course.”

      The research says the opposite. People tend to drive at speeds that they find to be comfortable. Changes in speed limits have limited impact on travel speeds; a speed limit that is set with consideration for the flow of traffic willl result in higher compliance rates.

      The funny thing about driving safety is that gut instinct beliefs such as this are almost always wrong. The truth about safety is counterintuitive to most people, yet it’s next to impossible to get them to believe it (which is why driver’s education fails time and again.)

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      A lot of drivers would not be comfortable doing 100 – let alone 120. I think you hit a point where the amount of speeders drops drastically.

      Never mind that a lot of cars don’t go above 100 or so. I know mine tops out at 110 due to gearing and my previous vehicle had a governor at 110 when the speedo went to 140/150.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Also, many cars aren’t all that great at speed. My Element gets noisy and mpg drops off significantly above 70, I usually cruise at or slightly below the limit. My XJ6 was serene at 85, without much of an mpg hit.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @kvndoom

      Except it doesn’t actually work out that way. Travel around the country and you will see that no matter the speed limit, the vast majority of traffic will be moving at 70-75mph. Even out West where the speed limit is 80! A FEW cars will be flying along, but only a few. This is why the 85% rule does actually work – most people only drive at a speed they find comfortable, and for most people that is right around 70-75 on an open highway.

      I like to go fast quite a lot, and thoroughly enjoyed legally driving my car at 130+ in Germany. But going that fast is EXHAUSTING, even in a car that was born and bred for it. I was perfectly happy doing 75-80 with the cruise on once we got out of Germany.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Yeah, because your senses have to be firing on all cylinders, and you have to have no distractions, concentrating FULLY on the driving task, as well as having full situational-awareness! (Well, I’d have appropriate music in the CD or on a USB stick for the occasion — but paradoxically, that adds to my heightened senses in that situation!)

        Normally, 80 is my max on a road-trip, but if I really want to make time (rarely), 90 works, provided the traffic, road and other conditions allow, and only for brief stretches.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    Some students at Mississippi State University did about the same thing a few years ago. I’m guessing they got the idea from these people. The speed limit on the highway here is seventy, and obviously there’s not as much traffic as in Atlanta, but they still had people passing them on the shoulder.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    Here in my little corner of Atlantic Canada, the police are pretty lax when it comes to speeding. Well, unless it’s the end of the month. It’s understood that 10 km/h over the limit of 110 km/h on the highway is OK, unless the cop is having a bad day. In the city however, you had better not go even 5 over. They’ll stop you.

    As for rural back roads, they are rarely patrolled and the consensus is to go as fast as you are comfortable with, weather permitting of course. I can remember in the mid 90s travelling 120 on a back road where the limit was 80. I crested a hill to find a mountie going the other way. He never even blinked at me, since he was going faster than I was.

    There is a back road that goes from my town to where I own property about 70 km away and the speed limit is 90 km/h through most of it. I have never seen a RCMP car in the years I have driven it. I usually keep the car at 120 km/h through most of it, but if I am not paying attention, I have caught myself going 140 km/h on the straight sections. The funny thing is that despite it being a well travelled road, I rarely have to slow down for anyone, and I sometimes end up being caught by other drivers. It’s faster taking the twisty back road than the 4-lane Trans Canada highway that runs parallel to it. Unless you get behind a tractor, that is.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    Several issues arise out of this thread:
    I live in a rural area close to a large urban area. We have more than our share of permanent left lane drivers on our nearby interstate. There must be a special place in hell for these people that get on the interstate and move to the left lane and possess it as their own “personal” lane. I think that many of these drivers are urban drivers that don’t understand getting the F*** out of the left lane is required. It is the law in Illinois.
    Speed limits have to have some leeway. It is impossible to enforce them to the exact speed. I have no problem giving 5 mph as automatic leeway but you run a small risk at 10.
    I have never found reasonable speeding to be a safety risk. Drivers in decent cars, that are alert, and are courteous to other slower drivers are not causing accidents. I would much prefer law enforcement to concentrate on true broken laws. You cannot drive a mile without seeing various real issues: no use of turn signals, broken brake lights, rolling stops, failure to yield, left lane hogs, etc. Additionally speed traps provide government revenue but at the cost of respect of the Police. Police should not be looked at with scorn and derision they are generally there to help the public, keep us safe, and provide assistance to us at our times of need. Speed traps just put them in a “to be avoided at all costs” light that reflects in many of our attitudes towards them.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ” I think that many of these drivers are urban drivers that don’t understand getting the F*** out of the left lane is required. It is the law in Illinois.”

      This “common knowledge” is very evident in Illinois where I rarely encounter “left-laners”, but as soon as you cross into Wisconsin you’d think there was a sign that said “Merge Left, (we built that lane just for you)”

      Thanks for your perspective

      • 0 avatar
        badcoffee

        ” This “common knowledge” is very evident in Illinois where I rarely encounter “left-laners”, but as soon as you cross into Wisconsin you’d think there was a sign that said “Merge Left, (we built that lane just for you)” ”

        I’ll take the Wisconsin drivers over Iowa drivers any day.

        Here in IL, if someone is camped out in the left lane its almost invariable that they have some sort of out-of-state plates

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I too hate those ‘ left lane bandits ‘ ~ why won’t the Gendarmes ever pull over the idiots who are backing up traffic for miles ? .

    Courtesy pays and it costs nothing .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Zackman

    On my daily commute in the morning, I stay in the right lane, cruise-controlled speed around 62-63 mph for reasons of sanity and poor night vision. I do the 65 mph limit on my way home. On road trips, I stay with the pack, usually 5 mph over.

    What I DO have issues with is when some stupid trucker tries to pass a fellow trucker and is able to go exactly one-half mph faster, thereby driving everyone else crazy and clogging up the road.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Stay away from I-81 running through the Shennandoah Valley of Virginia. It’s rolling hills and the trucks will stand on it to build up speed downhill and then pass each other at 1 mph going uphill. Drives you nuts. The lower posted speed limit for trucks is never enforced.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I run a round trip on I-81 at least once per year and I can attest to what DC Bruce says. However, that doesn’t mean it’s nearly as frustrating as he makes it sound, as usually you’re going faster than the trucks going uphill, where they usually spend their time in the slower lane, and slower going downhill, where if you’re smart YOU will move to the slower lane and let those trucks by. Usually, if you set your cruise control and just help it along a bit to get started up the hills, you will soon outdistance the trucks on the way up to the pass or they will outdistance you going down on the other side. Either way, they’re not an issue for long and you can go back to driving normally.

        BTW, while the speed limit on I-81 through Virginia is 70mph, I cruise at 65 and have absolutely no difficulties with the trucks. If it’s a really long grade they get a designated truck lane which pretty much lets everybody pass even if one truck is trying to crawl past another.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Of course the trucker whose going the 1/10 of 1mph faster then the other truck will always wait until you are in the passing lane attempting to take them both over before making his move where he takes the next 20 mins. to accomplish his pass, all the while your checking the rear view mirror seeing no one behind you wondering, “Couldn’t you have waited a few seconds for me to pass?”

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Or other cars, for that matter!!

          “Dude, I’ve got an entire area-code behind me!!” (Of course, that driver then becomes a left-lane bandit, when I’m running behind! :-p

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      A-men, brother!!!

      A guy I knew went for ** twenty miles ** on the Ohio Turnpike behind a truck governed at 66mph who pulled into the left lane to pass another (presumably governed) truck doing 64!

      Trucks should stay out of the left lane, period!

      Places like Kentucky are the exception–the truckers were doing 75mph in the left lane — ** in the rain ** — when I was in a group of vehicles heading for a church camp function, and the lead driver was driving a bit slow for everyone’s taste.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Unfortunately, we have our speed limits set by politicians, who know little or nothing about traffic engineering or safety, instead of by traffic engineers who do.

    Highway speed limits in particular should usually be set based upon the flow of traffic, not some semi-arbitrary figure. And they shouldn’t be rigidly enforced, but rather treated as guidance, particularly for those who aren’t familiar with that particular road. The term “limit” is a misnomer — traffic engineers understand that not all drivers want or need to be traveling at the same speed, nor is there a good reason why they should have to.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Depends where you are I guess.. Texas tends to set its limits at the 80th percentile of traffic speeds, so I don’t typically find myself doing a whole lot more than 5 over the limit generally. It’s not granular enough for my tastes (some roads marked 70 have stretches w/ 2+mi visibility and can safely be driven @ 80 or more, others are curvy and should probably be lower) but it works.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Texas can be a little nuts. I have been on back country farm roads in East Texas that are posted at 70 that *I* was not comfortable doing 70 on as someone not familiar with the area. The sort of road that would be a 45-50 limit back in Maine. But at least you don’t have to worry much about tickets!

    • 0 avatar
      agenthex

      However there’s good reason for arbitrary limits imposed as a whole or ever better by lane: it creates more predictable flow of traffic. It’s the speed differentials which aren’t even necessarily illegal that cause the accidents (ie where that human judgment comes into play and fails).

      The problem with the current system also isn’t that sort of “arbitrary” but that they’re arbitrarily enforced. Does 55 mean 55 or 65 or 75, who knows? A common law that a significant portion of peeps violate is by definition a failure.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “However there’s good reason for arbitrary limits imposed as a whole or ever better by lane: it creates more predictable flow of traffic.”

        It’s the opposite. Most people don’t pay much attention to the limits, so they drive at whatever speed that they would have driven. But that puts them into conflict with that minority of drivers who do slow down in compliance with a limit that is too low.

        On modern freeways, limits at the 85th or 90th percentile usually make the most sense. There aren’t many circumstances when they should be lower than that.

        • 0 avatar
          agenthex

          > It’s the opposite. Most people don’t pay much attention to the limits, so they drive at whatever speed that they would have driven. But that puts them into conflict with that minority of drivers who do slow down in compliance with a limit that is too low.

          They don’t pay attention because they’re largely meaningless anyway; police don’t actually enforce the strict limits but mostly “flow of traffic” and driving behavior complies. Germans for example are much more strict drivers.

          In any case my point was tangential to yours. It’s possible to divide whatever your range is by lane; speed differential is one main reason for multiple lanes in the first place.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I have a lead-foot. I like to speed, especially when there’s no one in front of me. But if I’m in the left-most lane and there *is* someone in front of me who is keeping pace with slower traffic, I’m not going to flash my lights and honk my horn at him, and I’m certainly not going to tailgate him. If I hit him, guess who’ll get a ticket and whose insurance will have to pay up? I might even seriously injure someone by running into the back of his car. And why? Because I wanted to go faster? Nah. I’ll just wait him out. Either he or I will eventually have to exit the highway…

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      If they’re obviously being a “left-lane bandit,” being judge, jury and executioner, and I’m feeling impatient, I’ll get up a little close, then give my left turn-signal a couple blinks (as the National Motorists’ Association (NMA) suggests; it sometimes gets their attention away from their important phone conversation for a minute, and they move. If they don’t react after a couple turn-signal activations, then I’ll flash the lights a couple times. Only if that doesn’t work do I go to a couple horn-blasts, followed by (if I can safely execute a pass on the right without endangering the idiot in front of me or any other drivers), a pass, with a “you’re # 1″ salute and a horn blast if I’m alongside, since I (and other drivers) end up having to move over one more lane and (illegally) pass on the right! Especially if the idiot in front REALLY wants to enforce the law by slowing further, or worse, “brake-checking!”

      Fortunately, my new Accord’s Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) makes these encounters easier–the car paces traffic, not me! I keep the distance set to the closest setting, so that the car follows at what would be a normal distance, so that if I’m in a “pack” behind a left-lane bandit, it’s clear that ** I ** am not being the problem!

      In short, it’s not your job to enforce the speed limit unless you have a gun and badge, or some connection to a higher power! If only people would learn that!

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    I recently got pulled over doing 128kph in a 90kph zone (that’s a shade over 55 mph).
    A friend remarked “you’re lucky – only 12kph more, and your car would’ve been impounded under the “Street racing” laws.

    The absurdity (to me) is that this was on the Don Valley Parkway, which is the southern extension of our Highway 404 – it is the same road, but in the DVP, the speed limit inexplicably drops from 100kph to 90kph.

    There is really no objective argument/reason for the 10kph differential.

    While I do believe that speed limits are necessary for safety and risk (i.e. I would support the limit being set at 120kph, which is closer to what everyone actually drives at, but not 140kph, because I don’t have much trust in the capabilities and road sense of my fellow drivers), a lot of the limits we have on our roads seem (I can’t empirically prove it off hand) antiquated and arbitrary.

    That, I believe, is the problem – if the limits were more reasonably-set, more people would abide by them (presence of police cruisers or not)

    • 0 avatar
      Jon Fage

      The MTO only allows 100 km/h limits on 400-series highways. (400-series is Ontario-speak for what Americans call “Interstates” or what Quebeckers call an “Autoroute”.) That’s why you have the 10 km/h drop when you go onto the DVP – it is not a 400-series. In the eyes of the MTO, it is a Toronto street due to the downloading of the road to the city from the province of Ontario in the 1990′s. (even though it is a controlled access freeway).

      90 km/h limits exist for a similar reason on the Gardiner Expwy., the Conestoga Expressway in Kitchener-Waterloo and the E.C. Row in Windsor. Most frustrating, however, is the 7/8 from Kitchener to New Hamburg, which is built to 400-series standards, is rural but yet has a 90 km/h limit due to its non-400 series designation.

  • avatar

    A police officer doing the speed limit? Now that’s a rare sight. Usually when I encounter cops on the road, they are doing at least 30 over in the left lane, tailgating/intimidating people into moving over so they can pass.

    That’s my biggest problem with speed limits, and with enforcement of traffic laws for the purpose of raising revenue. I typically drive at the speed of traffic, and I haven’t gotten pulled over for a traffic violation in 5+ years, but it’s annoying to know that if I am pulled over, it will be by a cop who will lecture me for doing something that I’ve seen countless cops do themselves at much higher speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      Tinker

      In Texas the law is that in the leftmost lane of three or more limited access lanes going in the same direction each car that must take the right lane to get around a “left-lane bandit” is a SEPARATE violation of the law. Each car that passes earns you another penalty.

      Two lanes or less, sit there. But three lanes or more NO MATTER YOUR SPEED, every passing car is a violation.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Too bad about the civil disobedient getting tickets. Speed limits are posted for various reason. Don’t like them? Take the issue up with your elected representatives. Or be prepared to pay.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      Pretending that citizens, or even “right and wrong” have significant bearing on the creation and enforcement of laws, is just that, make-believe. Altruism is virtually absent from modern American governance. This is hardly disputed.

      Elected representatives have inherited a status quo which is working very well for them thank you very much, and history proves that catastrophe is required for introspection to happen en-masse.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The state of New Mexico is very fond of “Safety Corridors” where the fines are doubled, headlights are required to be on even on the most blazing July day, and troopers are thick on the ground. In those zones if traveling in a non-radar detector equipped vehicle I simply decide how big a fine I’m willing to pay. 55 mph on a rural highway in broad daylight with light traffic drives me insane.

    The other side effect of this is that because their are few patrolmen for the large geographic size of the state (5th largest in land area) there are few speed limit enforcing cops to be found anywhere but the “Safety Corridors.”

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      And those corridors are there all the time, not just for special purposes ie. cleaning/construction?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        ALL THE TIME! One of them runs between Gallup, NM (20,000 people) and Tohatchi, NM (under 1,000) – 12 of the 16 miles are 4 lane state highway with an island divider between. It is not truly limited access BUT it is rural. 55 mph is ridiculous through there when the interstates are 75mph state wide.

        • 0 avatar
          OldandSlow

          Dan – For those unfamiliar with Safety Corridors in NM, there should be signs that read, “Welcome to the Land of Entrapment”.

          The story I was told is a highway becomes a Safety Corridor if there are a high number of fatal accidents along that stretch of road.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            US 491 (the road in question) formerly the infamous US 666, is notorious for fatal accidents BUT the reason is not excessive speed. The reason is drunk drivers.

            I stay very alert on that road and do not speed at night when the problem is the worst. In fact I prefer not to travel that road at night and prefer not to have my family travel that road at night.

            The problem I have is that lowering speed limits does not solve the states drunk driving issue and that 65 mph is a far more reasonable speed.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh yes… the route from Texline to Raton is a Safety Corridor, a 4 lane divided highway for 90 miles. That is the singularly most depressing part of the Dallas to Canon City drive despite the scenery just because you are crawling along NMDOT might have raised the limit since the last time I was through there, but for about 5 years I’d drive along that route once a year.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        It was US 87 between Clayton and Raton that I had in mind when I mentioned, “Welcome to the Land of Entrapment”.

        Given Dan’s warning, I’ll try to remember not to drive the back roads in Ya’at eeh Country after dark.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Why are people so reluctant to turn headlights on?

      Here in gray, rainy Washington people often drive in fog and mist with no lights. It’s even worse in places where it’s not gray as often. And when DRLs appeared there was a huge outcry about “tyranny.” The tyranny of having to replace a few lightbulbs a bit sooner? I don’t get it.

      I drive with my lights on all the time and can’t see any reason not to.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        +1. Oregonian here, and yeah, I always see people driving in misty twilight with no lights. I don’t get it.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I have no problem with being asked to turn on your lights when they are needed. I always turn on my lights when in turn on my wipers for any reason. I turn them on at twilight when people need to see me, I turn them on in the fog whether they help or not. My laugh is that when you enter the “Safety Corridor” there is a sign that says “TURN LIGHTS ON” and when you get to the end of the corridor there is another sign that says “LIGHTS!”.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        My last Accord was a 2006 with DRLs which used the high-beams at reduced intensity. Never had to replace them. My new one has an LED strip, which is still bright enough that you might forget to turn on lights if not for the automatic setting. (Did so last evening in fact while being asked to “pull ahead” to wait for fries at a local fast-food drive-thru. Turned on the parking lights just so the taillights were on, then forgot to turn the headlights back to “AUTO” until I was at the driveway of the restaurant.)

        My new one also has wipers activate the lights automatically with the lights on “AUTO.” Very good idea (started with Cadillac, I believe), since it IS the law in Ohio and elsewhere, but likely not enforced unless under extreme conditions

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    .
    80 MPH is a psychological limit that will likely get you pulled over in a 65MPH or 70 MPH zone. I’ve found you can drive all day at 79MPH with no problem.

    79 MPH in a 55 zone in a suburban area may be OK, depending on where you live. In the Bay Area or Atlanta, no problem, but don’t try it around Chicago.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      79mph seems to be the status quo in what I refer to as the “Chicago Express” lanes (far left) on the toll roads. I hook-in to that lane at the Wi/Il state line and on a good day I can be at the Edens/Kennedy merge in less then 30mins. Of course it’s 45mins from there to the loop (about 8 miles.) I’ve never seen anyone yanked from those lanes

  • avatar
    fredtal

    It also brings up why folks get so upset when driving. Maybe they have other problems or it’s the isolation inside their cars. Is it really that difficult to slow down wait a few minutes until there is a safe moment to pass.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      People get angry because it’s rude to block someone’s path without a good reason.

      It’s the person in the grocery store who blocks an aisle while staring dumbly at the shelves, ignoring the people trying to squeeze past them and their cart. Or the person who decides a doorway is the best place to stop and look at their phone. Or joggers who insist on running two-wide on a busy bicycle path, or cyclists riding two-wide on a narrow road.

      People need to relearn the importance of taking stock of their surroundings and not impeding others.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. drivers (and cyclists, walkers, runners, shoppers) should be courteous of those behind them as well as those ahead or coming in from the side.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I’m okay with that. And I understand your point if people that are going slowly or at the same pace as the right lanes choose to block up the left lane. But if I’m in the left lane doing 78 in a 65—which, mind you, is a pretty decent clip—and someone behind me decides he wants to go 85, I shouldn’t have to slow down and pull into one of the right lanes. I might move over just to avoid getting mowed down, but not because I think it’s the courteous or proper thing to do. One thing I will say is that I’m not a “call your bluff” or “teach you a lesson” driver. If you’re driving erratically and are trying to bully me out of the way, then congratulations; you’ve won. I’ll move…because I don’t want to be a part of the collision you’re bound to cause at some point…

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          I agree with all of that.

          If you’re going 78 in a 65, passing traffic, not pacing anyone, and someone is still right up in, the only reason to move over is to get away from them. They can’t claim any moral high ground in that situation.

          78 in an 80 would be different. Not saying you would do that, but some would, and proudly.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Speed limits are absurdly low in general, and I agree with the IDEA of pointing this out. But I would have been homicidal if I had been stuck behind these guys, especially as it was so obviously a stunt. I probably would have tried to force a stop on the shoulder, hopefully followed by a truly terrifying encounter for the not-driving-to-work-like-everyone-else parties involved.

  • avatar

    This video is wonderful.

    I once had a situation on the Merritt, a 2 lanes in each direction, in Connecticut, where two pickups–from Georgia, I think–were doing 55 side by side. It was infuriating. I forget exactly what happened, but I was finally able to pass them.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    This issue always annoys me to no end. I have a hard time keeping it short…

    My opinion we should remove most speed limits from interstates outside of of populated areas where road quality allows. People and cars vary greatly. Do the speed you’re comfortable with and let the faster traffic by. I’d be willing to bet after a short adjustment period everyone would be happier. Less Tailgating, better flow, you feel more comfortable just paying attention and Driving. And I guarantee traffic speeds wouldn’t increase much. As someone earlier mentioned, yeah, I can drive 120mph here on the autobahn… But yeah its exhausting. After 5-10 minutes I’m usually done and back it down to a nice about 85-90mph cruise. I’m happy, car feels comfortable, making good time.

    If you gotta have a limit, then I think 90mph would satisfy nearly everyone. Though frankly it is sometimes quite nice just to put your foot down, even for just a few minutes. And doing so, when you cause no damage or danger, should absolutely not result in big fines, impounded vehicles, “Street racing” or any such thing.

    What’s most infuriating to me is the variably of speed limits and how little sense they seem to make. Montana is I think 70mph on 2 Lane rural highways. Interstates are 75. It makes zero sense. Those 2 lanes you can’t usually even keep 70 when you want to. My GTI I didn’t feel comfortable a lot of times. So I didn’t go that fast. Again, the driver can decide, as it should be. But on the interstate the car is begging to go faster… 80 is speeding yet feels slow. Why can’t the driver decide here what is comfortable? Why does truly dangerous driving (sharp corners, trees/animals, rough surfaces) not get me any tickets on a 2 Lane but cruising at 85 or 90 on an interstate will get me written up?

    My opinion (since I know everyone cares) is that most are just too afraid and accept these limits set in the 60s or 70s (when cars were pigs, ran on Bias ply tires, couldn’t turn or stop, and shook and shimmied at the speed limit) because that’s how it’s always been. I really don’t think that if we relaxed these limits and let drivers do what’s comfortable that we’d have any meaningful change in fatalities or accidents. If you crash, you’re responsible. Otherwise, give people the flexibility to decide for themselves. Most people will be just fine… Same as now. But removes pointless punishment from those doing nothing more than exceeding a meaningless number.

    Also, for areas with limits (appropriately set due to sight or road damage etc), people will follow more. I know in Germany, if there is a limit, it’s usually for a good reason. Everyone slows down.

    My one hope is as this slowly moves through places like Utah and Texas that people slowly realize these higher limits work, and they spread. Maybe someday you great Texans will want to try no speed limit. Then the rest of us can copy…

    • 0 avatar
      agenthex

      > Do the speed you’re comfortable with and let the faster traffic by. … Less Tailgating, better flow, you feel more comfortable just paying attention and Driving.

      When roads are reasonably clear just about anything works as long as people aren’t itching to kill themselves. The problems come when roads become congested and people contend for the same real-estate. Even more lanes doesn’t solve much because it only takes a few selfish people to hog all of them at the same low speed; this causes the aggravation and danger in attempts to get by as we’ve all seen.

      That’s why maintaining lane speed differentiation is critical to resolving what’s fundamentally a resource-sharing problem: fast drivers and slow drivers can’t share the same lane, so you either force everyone to drive at the same speed (doesn’t work) or give each group their own space.

  • avatar
    jkk6

    One notices when crusing long term at high speeds @ 130+mph, people tend to drive in groups like bees. You pass several groups of cars going in similar speed. For ex one group would go a steady 70mph, next group would be doing 80mph, sometimes temporarily i would even form a group crusing 90-95mph. I bet people who have cross countried agree to noticing something similiar.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Yeah, why is that? Do we have a predetermined speed set within us or are we that social that we need to be close to others at all times? I personally can’t stand to be near other cars at higher speeds and will either increase or decrease my speed to insure greater personal space around me

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Drivers tend to choose their travel speeds based upon their own personal comfort, and their intuitive perceptions of what is too fast or too slow for conditions.

        The other vehicles provide a common reference point that validates the legitimacy of the speed. And that matches the quantitative research that shows those who travel at the very highest percentiles are more likely to crash and that speed variance increases crash risk.

        • 0 avatar
          agenthex

          >Drivers tend to choose their travel speeds based upon their own personal comfort, and their intuitive perceptions of what is too fast or too slow for conditions.

          You mentioned this a few times but this intuition can fail to maintain flow when drivers contend with each other for resources.

          For example, a few selfish drivers can slow traffic across any width of highway, and the resulting restriction against “natural speed” is often what causes cars to (almost) meet, nevermind halt the primary purpose of a road to facilitate efficient travel.

          Being safe & fast when no contention exist is relatively easy, but a complete ruleset needs to resolve resource-sharing problems unless the plan is to build more roads until no contention exists.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Lie2me, that earlier thread was getting impossibly long.

        Yes, my area is also seeing stupidly gratuitous creation of roundabouts on low volume roads. Most extreme case so far, I take a pleasant drive to my main health care clinic of about 5 miles from an upper-middle neighborhood along a little 2-lane village road. In those 5 miles are three roundabouts, the last of which literally did have a tractor negotiation it last trip. There are gentrified dairy farms/museums/B&Bs in the area as it is pleasantly well out of the way of any serious local traffic.

        There is a nice little duck pond along side the road just before the last roundabout. I have never once seen fewer ducks there than vehicles in the immediate area.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I stay out of “packs” to avoid being in some idiot’s blind spot when they switch lanes without looking!

        (With Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), that something to be aware of, in addition to being aware of what’s BEHIND you in case the car brakes suddenly if someone cuts in front of you; the car will keep a distance which puts you in a blind spot.)

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      They call those “Wolf Packs” and they will form and disperse as each driver travels at their most comfortable speeds. In over 40 years of driving around the US, I’ve run into these on every single interstate or multi-lane highway.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    If it’s about revenue, just raise speed limits and charge everyone an annual driving fee. You could even make it a graduated system where people would pay more to be able to speed more. That’s basically what it is now. I’d gladly pay ~$200-300 a year to demonstrate that I can “speed safely” and be allowed the right to do so. That would generate way more revenue and be less of a pain in the ass


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India