By on July 27, 2014
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Michigan State Police photo

 

In his capacity as the former head of the MSP’s  Traffic Services Section it was Lt. Gary Megge’s job to eliminate speed traps set up by local municipalities. A few years ago Megge told the Detroit News, “I’ve spent eight years in traffic services, and I was a crash reconstructionist for five years before that, so I’ve seen my share of fatal wrecks, and I can tell you: Deaths are not caused by speeding. They’re caused by drinking, drugs and inattentiveness. The old adage that speed kills just isn’t realistic. The safest speed is the speed that is correct for that roadway at a given time. A lot of speed limits are set artificially low.”

The state police were one of the groups who backed, against the lobbying of municipalities, a change in Michigan law that required speed limits to be set based on actual traffic data and engineering studies. That law, Public Act 85 proposed to set limits based on what is known as the 85th percentile rule, a widely used measure that sets speed limits at how fast 85% of drivers travel safely. “It just doesn’t seem right to me that we would enforce a law where 90-98 percent of the people are in violation of it,” Lieutenant Megge told the DetNews in 2008. “It’s not the way we should do business in this country.”

After that law was passed, cities, towns and villages, through the Michigan Municipal League, pointed out that the law didn’t specifically require traffic studies and lobbied against revisions to Public Act 85 that would force them to due such studies. At the time, Megge agreed with them, to a point. “There is nothing in the code that specifically requires a municipality to conduct traffic studies,” said Megge, “but enforcement of any law must match the criteria of the law,” technically making invalid those tickets issued on roads whose speed limits were not compliant with P.A. 85. The cities opposed using such studies because they almost invariably call for higher speed limits, potentially reducing revenue from speeding tickets. The revisions eventually passed in 2010.

Since then, Lt. Megge’s job has been overseeing such compliance. Over his career he’s had a hand in the raising of over 400 speed limits across Michigan (though in a small number of cases the studies resulted in lower speed limits). By now there’s more than a decade’s worth of data from those raised speed limits and Megge insists that higher speed limits don’t mean that people drive significantly faster. They drive just as fast as they always did before, and just as safely. They just do so without risking points on their drivers’ licenses. The lieutenant says, “Over the years, I’ve done many follow up studies after we raise or lower a speed limit. Almost every time, the 85th percentile speed doesn’t change, or if it does, it’s by about 2 or 3 mph.”

In addition to the fact that they don’t really do anything to promote traffic safety, Lt. Megge says that unreasonably low speed limits actually make roads less safe by diverting resources away from the kind of law enforcement that has measurable effect. Megge recommends, instead of zealous speed enforcement against drivers who are effectively safe, focusing on drunk drivers, red light runners, drivers and passengers who don’t buckle up, and, an important point, enforcing realistic speed limits against the small minority of drivers who unreasonably and excessively speed.

Alex Mayyasi, at pricenomics.com, has an extensive look at how speeds limits have been and are being set, including an interview with Lt. Megge. As the good Prof. Reynolds says, read the whole thing, then come back here and share your views.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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161 Comments on “Michigan State Police Say Most Speed Limits are Too Low...”


  • avatar
    cartunez

    They will force him out soon. Any cop with any kind of integrity doesn’t last long.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      I’m honestly surprised they didn’t get rid of him sooner.

      Having said that, I wonder if he’d be interested in moving to a better state, like Colorado. Would be nice to see some of the ticket-revenue-based muni’s around Denver slowly get strangled out of existence.

    • 0 avatar
      NitWhit

      LMAO…Seems that everyone wants to go fast. No matter what the speed limit is, people want to go faster than whats posted. You might say it’s a challenge or an adrenalin rush that your breaking the law. Who knows? I have to agree that some speed limits are not appropriate for the road being traveled but speed isn’t the problem, it’s the driver. I’ve been around for 70 years, and as I see it, most people “aim” their vehicle and have no idea what driving is. Most people don’t know if their vehicle is safe to drive at higher speeds nor do they know how to handle their vehicle if they have a tire blow out at 70mph. I’ve seen and know people that like to speed, and I personally, don’t want to be on the same road their on when they are driving. Yes.. there good drivers that have every ability to handle their vehicle at faster speeds and have acute awareness of their surroundings but I’m also going to say it’s only 10% of the population that know how to drive. As for the traffic COP, he’s just doing his job as required to maintain his job. What he personally thinks doesn’t stop him from giving out tickets. Speed only contributes to your demise. The most popular things listed in the article are the roots to accidents and death. For instance, if every one knew how to be a responsible driver, there wouldn’t be any ROAD RAGE and there would be fewer accidents. As for the other 80% of people who aim there vehicle, also called a ID ten T error, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to tell you,”I told you so.”

  • avatar

    DiBlasio is setting Manhattan Speed limits around 25mph.

    Neither I nor the taxis can possibly drive like that. And for what???

    To keep us from running down some stupid hipster J-Walking with his eyes buried in his ipod?

    Then there are the other state radar-enforced signs that say “55” on straights which could safely support 65mph.

    I have a theory that when the speed limits are lower, more people are willing to text because they don’t have to concentrate as much.

    What’s even more annoying is that today’s cars handle, accelerate and brake so much faster and better that these limits are ridiculous and hard to obey.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Dude, I like to drive fast too – but the first lesson I learned by observing the word around me, on my way to becoming an experinced driver, is that you don’t speed in town. When you hit the edge of town, the rules change.

      In town, there’s more people, more stuff to hit, and a mucg greater chance of getting a surprise. A 25mph limit in a dense urban environment like Manhattan, or the downtown of the Midwestern “microcity” where I live, sounds like it’s on the high side of reasonable. The art of driving safely (after you master the basics), is the art of avoiding surprises – and there are a lot of surprises in a dense/busy town.

      Out on the Interstate, though, I don’t see why we can’t be driving 90mph, when the weather allows. When I can see for miles and the traffic is so light I can do an aviation-style scan for deer and tractors, there are very few natual limits to speed.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with you. I have no problem doing less than 30 in residential streets. BUT, as soon as I get on a Highway or Interstate, There is absolutely NO WAY I’m doing 55 maximum.

        I took my girlfriend to Atlantic City last weekend.

        On the way back, I was doing a solid 80 MPH with virtually no traffic for 100 miles (until I got to Staten Island). The Time efficiency of maintaining that speed is a tremendous gain.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I thought AC was on its way out, so to speak.

          • 0 avatar

            There’s nothing to do there but:

            #1 waste your money in the casino
            #2 get charged $10 every time you wanna park a car
            #3 go shopping in the “outlets” for cheap clothing made-in-China.

            We had a room in the Borgata. Nice hotel until you realize you’re only there to spend on the games. I did win a net-$175 on BLACKJACK.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Atlantic City is swirling the drain. Its entire reason to exist has been completely upended by the rapid growth of casinos in many (most?) flyover cities, and they have no diversification in their economy to speak of. Revel just filed BK and was a multibillion dollar-cost-to-build that will probably fetch less than 100 million in a BK buyout (after union contracts are dissolved, pensions are wiped out, and bond holders & other creditors take 70% to 95% haircuts (Trump is going to re-file, next, then on and on).

            The whole 25 mph concept is idiotic. Cars today have good brakes (and ABS/stability control) and can stop in dry or wet conditions in about 1/2 the distances vehicles of just 25 years ago could.

            Further, almost all vehicles are far more fuel efficient at speeds between 40 and 55 mph than markedly less than 40 mph (I’m not saying tnere shouldn’t be any low speed zones, but that they should be reserved for areas that genuinely call for it based in credible data/studies).

            The one thing all American Cities could benefit from is “smart” traffic lights that can detect traffic volume in real time and adjust their timing accordingly – I would not be surprised if gridlock, congestion and wasted fuel couldn’t’t all be significantly reduced by the wide-scale implementation of a competently designed system of smart traffic signals.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        bigtruck wants to know if you can do smoky burnouts on side streets and limit your speed to 25mph.

        Sensible post.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “To keep us from running down some stupid hipster J-Walking with his eyes buried in his ipod?”
      More likely to keep you from running down some cheapskate with is eyes buried in his Android device–of which there are 3x as many.

      As for your highways, I won’t disagree, except that while the highway may “support” 65, does that include enough room for someone coming in off a side road to enter and accelerate in a safe manner? It’s more than just how fast you can drive on it, it’s how safely others can enter and exit the highway as well. Even with one certain local highway for me, because it’s not “limited access” I don’t like to go more than 60 on it because you never know what someone in a parking lot or cross street is going to do.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        Its been 18 years since i was pulled over for speeding in mighigan. The roads i typically speed on are the ones with unreasonably low 55 mph limits. As an aside, pretty sure last two android phones I bought were more expensive than the “best” iPhone currently on sale.

        • 0 avatar
          turboprius

          Agreed, but for the price, the Android phones give you a lot more. A 16GB M8 with expandable storage and the ability to do more costs the same as a 16GB 5S on contract.

          My M7 that I got back in April was 100 for a contract. Blows away the iPhones everyone has, and can do a lot. Even has 32GB of storage. My technology and Google loving friend also has an M7. With the exception of a few people, most of my school has iPhones, mostly 4s and 4Ss that are being upgraded to 5Ss and 5Cs.

          iPhones are like the Camry of the phone world. Most of the people who buy them could care less about technology, and the clueless people buy them over and over again.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Not necessarily. That “expandable storage” only serves as an external drive and does nothing towards improving the device’s capabilities.

            Half true; they buy what works and doesn’t need constant hands-on maintenance. People who migrate to iPhone FROM Android tend never to look back. People who migrated from iPhone TO Android tend to go back after one or two rounds of Android useage. Sure, there are those who are adamantly anti-Apple and hey, to tell you the truth I don’t care. That is, as long as they don’t lie about Apple’s device capabilities that is. I am far from “clueless” and I won’t use anything but iOS–for now. That could change, but Android needs to make some SERIOUS improvements before I’ll even try one. It’s the only mobile OS I know that needs an on-board anti-virus app.

      • 0 avatar
        dontsh00tmesanta

        Bingo ya got it in the head on that.

        So many speeders still want to go 80 when the flow of moderate traffic is 60 or 65

        They usually zig zag and cut off others

    • 0 avatar

      There are areas of NYC where it is a pedestrian mall, and a low speed limit is a good idea. The problem is that NYC DOT is now going through the whole city and lowering limits, and will be back to the State Government shortly for “more cameras” when there is “sudden noncompliance”. What is a good idea in a few small areas will be used to fleece motorists citywide. I’m troubled by the concept that they are tossing out any pretense to smooth traffic flow and making it all force a 25 mph limit. The cameras are set at 36 mph.

      I’ve worked with the National Motorists Association for many years, (www.motorists.org) and highway engineering IS a science, one oft observed in the breach. The 55 mph speed limit is a good example.

      The MSP cop is accurate and is saying what a lot of cops feel, based on my observations and conversations.

      The NYC experiment will be interesting to watch. I doubt fatal accidents will change much (everyone crosses with eyes on the smartphone, hipster or no) but the cash flow will be massive. Most cars in Manhattan are registered elsewhere, so the end result will be a commuter tax.

      NYC is a unique case, but elsewhere, the 85th percentile should be used to set limits-this is well established and agreed upon by everyone but the Insurance Institute, and the guys who got Zero Vision, er, Vision Zero, put into play in NYC.

      In my work experience fighting tickets, every single change to the laws I’ve seen in NY is all about the $.

      • 0 avatar
        msquare

        Which is why enforcement for revenue is inherently corrupt.

        It needs to be stopped worldwide, but New York is rotten to the core with it. Between artificially low speed limits and the traps that go with them, the Driver Responsibility Assessment, a predatory points system and unintelligible parking signs, the system effectively turns cops into muggers. A mugger only gets what you have on you. These people can fleece you for much more.

        So how do we put a stop to it once and for all?

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      Who the hell still uses an iPod?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Lol. I still occasionally use one with modified firmware.

        • 0 avatar
          DubTee1480

          RockBox? Only drawback is that it won’t play nice with the clock radio I have at work, I still have to load most of my music via iTunes but at least RockBox will recognize the iTunes loaded files.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Yes, Rockbox my friend. I was reading sub-thread on Woot about running it on Gen2 Ipod minis on sale and thought what the heck is Rockbox. Ordered one and loaded the software, works reasonably well for free software. I literally own three Apple products (Ipod 100g, Ipod mini, and a Powerbook G3), and two of those do not use Apple software.

          • 0 avatar
            DubTee1480

            Rockbox runs great on my 5.5 gen iPod but Rockbox in general doesn’t have full implementation of Apple Accessory Protocol so you have to watch what accessories you buy that use the dock connector. Which I didn’t know when I picked up my clock radio with a dock so now I’m waiting and hoping they get the 5.5 build on the same footing at the 5G build. I still heartily recommend it to my friends.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            What is the advantage of something like Rockbox? I just plug my iPod into my car and the Sync/MFT system organizes it for the car. I can take it out of the car, put headphones in and listen to music easily as well. Is this like people running Linux just cause? Is there something I’m missing?

          • 0 avatar
            DubTee1480

            @ bball40dtw

            YMMV but in some cases it add features not included with the original players firmware (RockBox is not just limited to Apple), it supports other file formats that are not always supported such as OGG, FLAC, WMA and others. It allows you to drag and drop new music instead of syncing it with software on your PC. You may not find any additional functionality that’s useful to you and depending on your iPod model it may not play nice with Sync/MFT which would be detrimental – though you can get around this like I do by loading some or most of your music that is iTunes compatible that way and loading the other files (I have some OGG and FLAC) and access them through RockBox. RockBox is dual booting so you can reboot your device back into it’s original firmware.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Yeah, BBall; there are those who are anti-Apple anything, even when it’s the ONLY thing of its type available. I have a Kenwood audio head in my 1990 F-150 that can fully control every iPod and even iPhone I’ve ever attached to it through the USB port as far as listening to music. I can even play audiobooks off the iPod and select specific chapters to listen to. Not sure this “Rockbox” thing can do that.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @DubTee1480

            That’s good to know, and I certainly was not aware. However my accessories consist of an headphone cable.

            @bball, Dubtee

            Apple is the hipster Microsoft, therefore on general principle I’m not impressed (although their hardware used to be impressive). Enter Itunes, software I don’t want on my computers nor do I ever want to buy music from them (also songs purchased prior to 2009 are chock full of DRM). Rockbox allows me via the USB connection to copy/paste or cut mp3 files directly without any additional software. Rockbox is also updated whereas firmware on older hardware probably will never be updated by its OEM again. Dubtee also makes the important point about other file formats such as FLAC which incidentally is the format much of my classical music is in.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            So with RockBox I can remove the computer crippling death program the world calls iTunes?

          • 0 avatar
            DubTee1480

            @bball40dtw
            Yessir, with Rockbox installed you can ditch iTunes and still load music on your iPod. It may or may not play nice with MFT/Sync but if it doesn’t… Rockbox is free to download and you can remove it if you don’t care for it and still go back to the native Apple firmware.

            @Vulpine
            Rockbox may or may not play nice with your Kenwood unit as stated above but it can do audiobooks just fine and even includes a bookmark feature. There are indeed many people that are anti-Apple anything but as an owner of a Macbook Pro, iPod, iPad and someone on their 4th iPhone I can assure you I am not. RockBox is simply a better fit for what I want to do with my old iPod.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Anyone who wants to store more than a few gigs of music on the go without paying an astronomical amount of money for flash-based storage.

        You can still get a “classic” iPod with 160GB for not a lot of money.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Who the heck wants to store music? How quaint… :)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I like to listen to specific tunes when I want to hear them, not when some “radio station” (i.e. Pandora) thinks it’s time for you to hear it. I currently have a 16,000-track, 88-Gigabyte collection of music so I can hear ANY tune I want whenever I want.

            And that’s not counting my current growing movie collection that I can watch anywhere, any time, for no charge at home and remotely.

          • 0 avatar
            Signal11

            You do realize that there are several home digital media sever/mobile device app solutions and/or cloud access services that give ready access to every track you have at home directly on your mobile device, right?

            Personally, I currently have roughly 220 gigs of music (that’s music alone) in my collection which no mobile device will be able to store. I suppose I could replace the hard drive in a 6th gen iPod classic, but the easiest solution is to use a cloud media service, several of which work well, or just stream that music to myself.

            Fortunately for me, I live in a country where data is cheap and ubiquitous, including basement garages, subways and the sticks. OTOH, I destroyed several hard drive based iPods when I lived in Africa.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Aye, Signal11; it’s called iCloud and it works fine for me–though I strictly limit it to wi-fi access since I don’t want to drag my data transfer rates over cell to the clouds as well. There are few enough “unlimited data” service contracts available unless you’re willing to pay an arm and a leg.

            Of course, most of today’s iPods aren’t hard drive based any more, so they’re slightly more rugged than they used to be. Now, unless they get eaten by some critter, they should remain reasonably functional as long as you don’t go swimming with it in your pocket. I don’t think even the Samsung could survive that–for long.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Isn’t this part of DeBlasio’s absolute zero initiative ( or whatever it is called? ) based on the idea that pedestrian fatalities fall pretty much to zero at speeds below 30-35 mph.

      Frankly I’m surprised in Manhattan at least this hasn’t been done long ago. On my fist visit there I was pretty content walking were I needed, to go if it was five miles or less which everything aeemed, to be.

      • 0 avatar

        The concept comes from a Scandinavian study which claims that at 20 mph, most struck pedestrians live, but at 40, they don’t. This plays into the Bicycle guys fantasy of a bicycle paramount city. Removing parking and installing bike lanes on major throughfares is part of it. Doing any and every thing possible to make driving more expensive and discouraging cars in the city is the central point of this. “Twenty is plenty” was the slogan, but as NYC does not have Home Rule for traffic laws, the lowest Albany would allow is 25. Likewise, NYC would be camera hell if they could hang all they wanted without upstate permission. Upstate killed Congestion Pricing under Mayor Bloomberg, and tends to have a dim view of cams.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I’m with big truck on this one. 25 is obscenely low, and completely unrealistic in NYC. Remember, ny is a big place with many different road conditions. The only reasonable rationale for a blanket 25 limit is to dramatically increase speeding fines. We would not hesitate to call this out as bad governance.

      It is no coincidence that the mayor is also clamoring for a huge speed camera expansion. Some of the major capital backers of the camera companies are located in NYC as well… and are very active in local “lobbying.” Goldman being one example.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Since I adamantly refuse to drive on downtown streets in cities like New York or Los Angles, I can’t speak to your arguments themselves; navigating them as an outsider is nigh-on to impossible without a passenger who can pay attention to where you are and give you enough advance notice to make the needed turns in a safe manner. Now, if your wife is like most stereotypical wives, that means you find out in the middle of the intersection that you should have turned whichever is the most difficult direction. And satnav is practically useless because the tall buildings block satellite signals. Working on the outskirts of such urban centers and into the suburbs is a different story wherein I would likely agree with you.

      • 0 avatar
        ixim

        It’s even worse. There may be $$ to be made from unrealistic speed limits and the cameras to enforce them, but DiBlasio and the anti-car zealots who have his ear on this are true believers in the zero-accidents cult. There are countless times and places in all five boroughs where higher speeds are perfectly safe. I speak from decades of driving there. That the cameras will be set to 36mph is a bit of sanity in an otherwise ideologically driven situation. PS – GPS nav works fine in midtown. Not to mention smartphone nav apps.

    • 0 avatar

      The 25mph limit is the “small” problem, Vision Zero is the big one, what Bloomberg started, De Blasio is following.
      Not that I’m totally against Vision Zero but just to see what it does to traffic in the city in certain places.
      Take 100 st and Broadway all the way to 96 st, they blocked one lane completely, that brings traffic to a crawl every single day, the bike lanes everywhere in the city took car lanes and we are not California, in the winter, not many people ride bikes.
      Again, Bloomberg was trying to impose a fee for entering the city below 96 st, it failed, instead, he blocked city streets so you would think twice before you come to the city with your car in midweek, it’s OK only after 6PM were you can park your car almost anywhere.
      The highway speed limits in NY is ridiculous, I think it’s the lowest in comparison to other states.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      “Neither I nor the taxis can possibly drive like that. And for what??? To keep us from running down some stupid hipster J-Walking with his eyes buried in his ipod?”

      Idiotic statements. Would you really rather hit them, or are you just being macho? We have enough ‘roid-heads around downtown Brooklyn. Please let me know which NYC neighborhoods you typically drive in. That way I know to avoid any SRT vehicles blasting tire smoke.

    • 0 avatar
      emcourtney

      Oddly the large avenues have their lights timed for 35. As for the cross streets I rarely exceed 20, when that’s possible, their just too narrow.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    We just had a ridiculous 45-mile limit on a 4-mile stretch of wide-open road with wide shoulders raised after about 6 years of the sheriff stopping numerous cars daily. They went all the way up to 50 now. Hooray. At least, we can safely drive 55 without being stopped.

    The bad part, is that they now put in a non-obvious 35 mph sign just as you turn on the road. It stays 35 now, with absolutely no reason, for about a half mile before it goes to 50. I expect the sheriff to be monitoring that stretch daily. Can’t let the county coffers go dry!

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Photograph it and point it out to your State traffic commission. I can see slowing people down as they come IN to the community, but once clear of the town limits it should go back up.

      On the other hand, one road near me went DOWN by 5mph due to the number of housing communities on either side. Why? Because drivers were already doing 55 on the road and there’d been a number of crashes due to entering and exiting traffic. Each road needs its conditions checked unless it’s patently obvious that it’s nothing more than a speed trap. I also believe that a separate speed limit for each direction should be permitted where conditions warrant it. Why should you be held to 25 going up a hill out of town when it’s less critical than slowing highway traffic approaching town before they hit the downhill slope. That unnecessarily loads the engine (and hurts fuel economy) while having no other purpose.

      • 0 avatar
        Aaron Whiteman

        Unless it’s changed recently (I haven’t driven recently enough enough to know), the dual-speed limit actually does happen in places. If you take US-95 north from Lewiston Idaho, you climb a serious hill out of the Snake river canyon up to the Palouse, a climb of some 1900′ in about 5 miles. The speed limit is 65. If you take the same road south down that hill, the speed limit is (or perhaps was) a rather reasonable 55.

        • 0 avatar
          segfault

          Aaron Whiteman,

          That’s unusual–I wonder what the reasoning is. For a non-commercial vehicle, downhill braking distances aren’t much longer than those on level ground (nor are uphill braking distances appreciably shorter). I don’t think the same is true for commercial vehicles.

          Regardless, in a passenger car, the vaguely out-of-control feeling I get when driving a steep downhill stretch and exceeding my normal speed by 5-10 MPH is probably irrational.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            ‘Tis why I prefer a manual transmission, to get some braking assistance from the engine. The new double-clutch automatics can help with this part as well–better than most older-style automatics.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    This seems pretty sensible.

    My personal feeling is that the speed limit in my neighborhood needs to go down (lots of kids, poor visibility), but the speed limits on the Ineterstate near me (rural Midwest) need to go way up.

    If speed limits had anything to do with actual safety, then people might actually respect them. Also, if we get cops out of the revenue collection business, people might respect them more, too.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I feel for the kids and I give them a brake. Regular pedestrians too. But they put up these cracker box houses on somewhat busy, through streets. Kids have to play in the street for backyards are a joke. Front yards are a joke too, so residents block/rip out the sidewalk and run scrubs and stem walls to the curb, to give the impression they actually have a front yard. Not much parking space so of course pedestrians are forced to walk in traffic when they park cars/RVs at the curb.

      • 0 avatar
        turboprius

        I’m half and half.

        I agree that the way houses are being built nowadays is ridiculous. My house has a large front and backyard, and it was built back in 1998. The houses on the other side of my neighborhood, which were built from about 2001 to 2005 or so, have tiny front yards, pointless backyards, and are all piled on top of each other. Also, as I’ve stated in several other comments, the roads are really narrow, so when someone parks their car in the street, the whole lane is gone.

        However, I’m still against people walking in the street. Yes, the sidewalk is only on one side of the street here, but even if there’s no sidewalk, there’s the curb and the gutter. My parents have almost hit pedestrians a countless number of times, mainly because they don’t take the sidewalk and walk in the street.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        An interesting argument, but if that’s true, are not those indivduals who do such to PUBLIC walkways breaking the law? Would it not be smart for you to REPORT how people are destroying public property in order to enhance their private property?

        Or maybe that community has a Homeowner’s Association that is not performing its duty to maintain the status and property value of the community. Either way, put the onus where it belongs and stop blaming the innocent.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It’s Code Enforcement not doing their job. And the costs of restoring the sidewalks falls on the home owners, unless the city or county wants to pony up the cash. Nope.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            1.) Which is why you report them.
            2.) Naturally. If the home owner refuses to do it on their own, the city does it for them and fines them for the costs PLUS administrative fees and maybe even a punitive fine as well. If it can be proven that a previous homeowner did it, then that previous homeowner should be located and fined that amount.

            Actually pretty simple, don’t you think?

  • avatar
    thelaine

    We all know the vast majority of traffic enforcement has nothing to do with safety.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      This.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Of course it isn’t about traffic safety, much of it isn’t about traffic either.

      How many arrests for real crimes (and bigger and better revenue crimes, besides) begin with the “routine” traffic stop?

      Absurdly low limits coupled with lax and inconsistent enforcement create an environment where virtually everyone on the road is violating the law, and that’s just the way the state wants it. That ongoing violation is a probable cause workaround to the 4th Amendment and allows fishing stops of anyone on the road at any time.

      The indignation comes when greedy municipalities go beyond this acceptable purpose of harassing the young and badly dressed and use it to line their pockets from you and me instead.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        The last “routine traffic stop” that netted a big haul where I live wasn’t due to speeding, drunken driving or any other typical complaint; it was due to car windows tinted grossly darker than permitted limits. Turns out the car was carrying a few hundred kilos of drugs in transport towards a major city.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          “The last “routine traffic stop” that netted a big haul…”

          So it’s a win/win for cops, but what do “we” get? We’ll have to supports these “criminals” indefinitely, no doubt pay for a cop’s promotion/bonus AND have to pay more for non “prescription” pharmaceuticals…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I think it depends from dept to dept but most cops aren’t as into traffic extortion, I mean enforcement, as you might think. In the case of local speeding tickets, my city only keeps $12 of the $120 fine. The county gets $25 for the “Judicial Computer Project” slush fund and the rest goes to Harrisburg. The gross cost to operate a police cruiser including officer (on avg) is about $60/hr here, so even if the Lt says go out and pull X movers today, its still a net loss to the city over a shift. They do it because orders come down from the Chief, Mayor’s Office, or State to do so. From what I am told, its usually the State, the former two only issuing such specific orders if enough public complaints are lodged. The State benefits most from such behavior, making the most money, furthering overall repressive behavior, and doing it while spending someone else’s budget. The state here also funds those random weekend DUI checkpoints through “special grants” for hourly officer costs or OT, not the city/borough/county govt as you might suspect.

            The last time I was pinched, I was oddly calm with the borough cop and asked him point blank what was he doing on this po-dunk local road pinching people for >5 mph (seriously) on a “25” (with no houses just commercial). He confessed “there are about a million other things I’d rather be doing” but the Chief ordered him to sit on the road because plebs complained about increased traffic and/or speeding due to a construction project on the main road parallel to it. That borough pays their cops more than in the city, and runs Panthers vs V6 W-impala, so their hourly costs were prob $70/hr or more to issue a handful of citations to satisfy two or three whiners who were probably also local campaign contributions or other juiced in people. This was an instance where Lt. Megge’s sensibility could come into play, but instead we’d rather waste $560 dollars on an eight hour shift to make $36 and essentially out the fear of God in a handful of people. Incidentally for my overall honesty and demeanor the cop told me he was just going to demote the “speeding” ticket to disobeying a traffic device in order to save me a trip to the magistrate to ask for no points, which I thought was pretty cool. Two people, an officer and a driver, both caught up in the same stupidity. I think it happens more often than you might think.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Naturally YOU would wave off my real point that it’s not SPEEDING that is netting the highly-profitable busts but rather those abusing less obvious laws–since almost all druggies know to avoid traffic stops that could get them searched. I’d be more suspicious of someone riding invariably 5mph BELOW the limit than I would anyone running at or slightly above the limit. Window tinting typically means you have something to hide–especially when it covers windshield and front-seat windows as well.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      thelaine, right you are! But traffic enforcement and speed limits specifically set too low are such a wonderful source of revenue for the states and municipalities.

      How else can they fatten up their budgets?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I’d much prefer higher taxes to the perversion of justice and safety that was the last ticket I was issued.

        The officer really was an armed toll collector, and we both knew it at the time. And the follow-up process confirmed it, too.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Luke42,I’ve been lucky so far. No tickets. But many of my wide-traveling friends, some of them my Elks Brethren, have not been so lucky.

          Those out of state license plates on their vehicles usually draws cops of all varieties like stink on sh!t. Stories you hear over a beer.

          My 86yo father-in-law was pulled over in California on I-10 near Indio for going 50mph and impeding the normal flow of traffic because big rigs had to pass him, thereby blocking the left passing lane for the normal flow of traffic at 70mph.

          All these big rigs that were passing him were causing a backup line of cars more than a mile long behind them.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            That hardly sounds like singling out a stereotype. If he was forcing all those trucks to move out like that, then he was certainly going too slowly. Personally, 50 is too slow to be using the freeways in the first place, though U-Haul trailers are very clearly marked for a 45mph maximum speed.

            On the other hand, maybe those trucks were speeding, because SOME freeways post truck speed limits 5mph below cars. You didn’t exactly state what the speed limit was, only what the “normal flow of traffic” was. He may have only been doing 5-10mph below the posted speed limit. Either way, he wasn’t singled out for being an out-of-state driver, but rather for being a rolling hazard on the road.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Those trucks were speeding, trying to get into the climb up over the mountains. I believe the speed limit for big rigs is 55mph on I-10, and 70mph for all others, although traffic routinely moves along at 75-80mph.

            While we were coming back from visiting our grandson in Fallbrook, we noticed that the cops were heavily mining Eastbound I-10 well before the AZ border. There were no cops on the Westbound side. And we noted that none of the cars we saw pulled over had CA license plates.

            Could it be that they leave CA plates alone because they’re all in the same bankrupt boat?

  • avatar
    JohnAZ

    This is amazing. Lt. Megge must have been listening for years to my wife and I arguing about normal road speed limits and policing of real traffic offenders. I agree with everything in this article and especially that it is not speed that kills. It is poor driving that kills and that needs to be addressed through more police attention.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Interstate speed limits in California are 70mph, even in the desert where there is little traffic.

      But they sure that work those Interstates leading East to collect the bounty for California before those drivers leave the state. It was that way when my #2 son was a CHiP for 12 years and it is even worse now that California is officially bankrupt.

      A rich source of income for bankrupt California, for sure. And New Mexico where I live isn’t any better either. Heavy law enforcement scrutiny along Interstates leading out of the state.

      Arizona? Hardly a cop on the Interstates and most people routinely cruise at 85mph and higher through Arizona without being financially molested.

      Same with Colorado, Utah and Texas, Realistic speed limits. A joy to travel in these states.

      Kansas not so much after you leave the turnpikes. Oklahoma? Watch out around the little towns. Cops are lurking in the berms.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        Highdesertcat if by “bankrupt” you really mean “billion dollar budget surplus” then I guess California is “bankrupt” [Correction: 1.9 billion dollar surplus].

        Forget about speeding. We need to get on top of pedestrian fatalities one way or another. (including bicycle, I suppose). They are rising sharply, all over the country. I don’t know what the answer is, but I applaud Manhattan for trying to get on top of the problem in some kind of systematic way.

        This 85 rule is an excellent one. While they are at it, they should pass legislation against the use of stop signs for speed control. We should ask our legislators to pass similar legislation. Its not all about revenue. There is plenty enough localized impulses for unnecessarily low speed limits.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Kudos to Cali but does this include all unfunded liabilities?

          “There is plenty enough localized impulses for unnecessarily low speed limits.”

          Bingo. State gov’t and local fifedoms should have zero say in speed and safety limits on road they do not pay to maintain.

          • 0 avatar
            jim brewer

            Well, if not the state and not the “local fiefdom” then who?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The feds if its their highway. If its a state road, the state, If its 123 Main Street than the fifedom. Where I live the state likes to alter the speed limits on federal highways in certain sections, but the state is not the one paying for the construction projects. So if I drive from I-81 in PA to Roanoke VA, I should be doing a constant speed set by the highway commission. It should not go up and down as I cross state lines or past cities. One speed, one standard.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The problem with your argument in part, 28-cars, is that the state pays about 50% of the cost for federal highways as well; this is VERY evident when you cross state and even county lines.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Jim, much of my family lives in California. They believe California is bankrupt and want to leave the state.

          The outflow of people and businesses from California is such that it is great for the real estate business of my wife’s family (in New Mexico and Colorado). They sell a lot of homes to these transplants who cash out of California.

          Members of my family living in California would leave the state if they only could. They can’t for a variety of reasons, among them careers, property, business interests, and other sources of income.

          Hopefully, there will come a time when all the people who live in California actually want to be there.

          (BTW, I was born in Huntington Beach, CA and grew up there)

          The 1.9 billion surplus does not offset unfunded liabilities.

          If California could get all the illegal aliens in California to pay taxes in California, that would go a long way to offsetting the bankrupture.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @HDC – I agree the CA is replacing their best residents/customers, like Toyota and Honda, with illegal aliens and other drains. Except illegal aliens using bogus SSNs never collect their tax returns or other benefits. The Feds and states don’t mind this part one bit.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            DenverMike, my wife has a sister who lives in Littleton with her husband and family, and they have told us that many of those former CA residents are actually moving their way.

            In a way this is good for their business, which also is real estate, but it does create pressure on the current residents to pay increasingly higher taxes as these new residents from CA pay cash for their homes and expect lavish services and law enforcement from the city.

            So as nice as Littleton is, my wife’s sister planning on selling their home near the reservoir to take advantage of the higher pricing and moving to an area with lower taxes and newer homes.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            “If California could get all the illegal aliens in California to pay taxes in California, that would go a long way to offsetting the bankrupture.”

            Why not increase sales taxes and reduce payroll and property taxes? Well if CA has property taxes?

            Seems to me if you have a large migrant or illegal population that uses services mostly funded by payroll and property taxes shifting to something everybody has to pay and cannot avoid would bring in more revenue.

        • 0 avatar
          ixim

          “Systematic way”? Suppose the 85 rule supports speed higher than 25mph?

  • avatar

    I like this guy. It is important for citizens to respect the police, but it is hard when so many officers spend most of their time as increasingly armed toll collectors.

  • avatar
    turboprius

    Depends on the roads. In a place such as my neighborhood, which has thin, windy roads, lots of trees, and people who never use the freaking sidewalk, 25 is logical. 30 is way too fast and feels dangerous.

    Meanwhile, on a place like 285, a 55 speed limit is ridiculous. I don’t think anyone goes that. But around here, any road that is somewhat straight screams “Speed on me!”

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Very interesting. Norwegian authorities have it in their backbone to reduce speed limits on accident-prone stretches of road.

    I live close to a road that was build and designed for 90kph in the 90s. After several, partly severe, accidents, the speed limit was lowered to 80, and is 70kph for most of the road now. We’re talking about 50 minutes of comparably high standard road.

    Many people still drive 90. Some drive 70. Tourists and campers surprisingly regularly do 50-60kph, to “take in the view”. The huge difference in travel speeds creates a massive amount of friction. Accidents are still very common, and because of its history, the road is littered with a street signs (speed, corners, this and that).

    B-roads are usually not speed-regulated at all, except for in front if schools or at particularly narrow/dangerous stretches. People have to stay awake and – important – THINK WHILE DRIVING. Guess how safe these roads are.

    Because of the conditioning of the Norwegian city driver to not think – some get angry about stretches of road not announced as twisting, some ignore everything etc – I actually prefer variable signs now. Lots of people just need a sign that tells them: When there’s frost, there can be ice.

    So to the point: Overregulation kills the good driver. Too low limits raise conflict and are in line with Megge’s argument about road-feasible speeds.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    We’ve all known this. It’s just nice to hear someone in law enforcement confirm it.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      These unrealistic low speed limits and the mandate from the Courts to enforce them to pad out their budget, was one of the reasons my son left the Highway Patrol.

      Several judges complained to his superiors that he and several other officers weren’t writing enough speeding tickets and it was affecting their cash flow and budget.

      My son had other options and went to work for Federal Civil Service with higher pay, but some of his best buddies are still working the highways and byways of California. And as soon as they retire, they’ll leave the state for better states like Arizona, Nevada or Texas.

      But those 12 years my son was a highway cop are not lost. When he turns 62 he gets to collect a pension for life from them, somewhere in the vicinity of 50% of what a full-retirement would have been after 20 years.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I didn’t realize that local judges administered those budgets or had input to the state police on individual officer citation rates. It explains quite a lot actually. Thanks.

        • 0 avatar
          jim brewer

          The cops I’ve talked to say that they would have no problem filling up their ticket book every day if they wanted. I’ve lived in jurisdictions where all traffic fines go to the state and therefore there is no economic incentive for over-aggressive traffic enforcement. Even still, the superior officers want to see enough citations to prove that the cop was awake.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Well, if a cop is handling a traffic accident that can pretty much wipe out a big chunk of their shift.

            There are many other reasons why cops are taken off the roads, i.e. to attend classes, teach courses, etc.

            And cops are constantly being monitored by Dispatch and GPS to prove that the cop is awake.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Officers are not constantly monitored by dispatch to check for an alert status, at least not on the overnight shifts where I live. The officers I am told blast their radio volumes and generally the more senior ranks have sleeping spots they go to and nod off after 3am when/if things are quiet. If there is a call out, they awake and respond but I am told this is seldom on weeknights after 3am as the perps are typically sleeping.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28-Cars-Later, interesting. I didn’t know that.

            Both my son when he was a highway cop, and my grandson’s wife as a Deputy Sheriff have told me that they are constantly being monitored by GPS and stay in contact with Dispatch during their shift.

            In fact, when on traffic duty, a cop will usually get on the radio to notify another cop up the road if a motorist needs to be slowed down. So they don’t have to give chase. In some cases it is dangerous to enter the flow of traffic from where they are parked.

            For a routine traffic stop, the cop pulls over the motorist, radios Dispatch with the license number, make and color of the vehicle before exiting the patrol car.

            Dispatch runs a trace, although in the newer patrol cars the cops can do this via the laptop in the cruiser to identify the owner of the vehicle.

            Then the cop places his fingerprints on a designated spot on the car he pulled over before talking to the driver.

            Where do you live? Are the procedures different there?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Here in Yinzer City USA aka Pittsburgh, the newer patrol cars have cameras (MY10+) but the older ones do not. The newer Fords are frequently in the shop, so you’d be surprised of the number of barely running and sometimes unsafe 100K+ W-impala patrol cars the city runs (emergency vehicles are exempt from inspection and emissions, conveniently). GPS was never mentioned to me, but if they do have it, evidently no one is doing anything with the data. I would not be surprised if the new Fords have it but the county dispatch doesn’t know how/is able to use it. The police radios evidently date from the late 80s in some cases.

            One of the perks of seniority on the overnight shift is the sleeping, and in at least one zone the 10 or 15+ year veterans get take homes. Because the city mandates its officers live in the limits, most of these overnight folks simply live in their zone and park their cars in their own driveways after 3 with the radio turned up. I am not sure if they too are sleeping or simply mucking around in their garages/homes.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28-Cars-Later, every cop car I have seen on the road during my recent road trips had a camera, and none of the cruisers were old.

            Most of what I saw on the highway were current model Dodge Pursuit, Tahoe, Explorer, Durango and the occasional F150.

            In towns along the way, lots of new Chevy Police Vehicles, Explorers and Dodges. All of them had a camera and a computer console in the middle.

            I do not remember seeing any Crown Vics. They’d be too old by now.

            The only active cop in my family is the wife of my grandson in California.

            She works a standard eight hour rotating shift as a Deputy Sheriff but what she is dispatched for during the shift varies from welfare calls to traffic to drug interdiction with the Border Patrol, and sometimes really weird things for backup.

            She has applied for transfer to the California Highway Patrol because with her Law Enforcement degree she can get promoted faster in the CHiP than in the Sheriff’s department.

  • avatar
    Pan

    Remember the MG motto: SAFETY FAST

  • avatar
    chaparral

    I like 85th percentile speed limits. They are great in theory, great in practice, but require too much political courage to implement because no politician wants to see a 95 MPH crash three days before Election Day on the road he got raised to a 90 MPH limit.

    I try to drive the 85th percentile speed as much as I can, but 25 MPH over the limit is considered “reckless driving” in Michigan and can get me arrested. In the greater Detroit area, passing 5 cars for each 1 that passes you on a clear day in light treffic requires:

    I75 north and south, exits 82-60: 85 MPH (limit 70)
    I75 south, exits 60-45: 80 MPH (limits from 55 to 70)
    I75 north, exits 45-60: 75 MPH (limits from 55 to 70)
    M10 north and south, south of Telegraph/696 Mixing Bowl: RK
    M39 north and south, freeway section: 75 MPH (limit 55)
    I275 north and south, I94 to I696: 90 MPH (limit 70)
    I696 east and west, St. Clair Shores to I-75: 90 MPH (limit 70)
    I696 east and west, I75 to I275: 85 MPH (limit 70)
    M14 east and west, I275 to US23: 85 MPH (limit 70)
    I-94 from Detroit to Chicago: 85 MPH (limit 70)
    I96 from Telegraph to I275 is presently closed, but before that, the stretch from I-75 to I-275 required 90+ MPH.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “In the greater Detroit area, passing 5 cars for each 1 that passes you on a clear day in light treffic requires:”

      When figuring out the 85th percentile speed, how many of those 5 cars would you still pass without the threat of being arrested to slow them down? Eating a $150 ticket once in a while is just the price of doing business sometimes, taking a reckless driving charge is quite another.

      I-85 in southern VA is one of the best 100+ mph roads you’ll ever see people keeping it at 79 on.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        And with my current car, I’d be driving 60 or maybe 65 on that road, Dan. I value my gas tank more than I do getting from point A to point B in minimum time. If I wanted to go that fast, I’d charter a plane and go 125-150mph.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        “I-85 in southern VA is one of the best 100+ mph roads you’ll ever see people keeping it at 79 on.”

        I concur when I took I85 on the way to Charlotte NC it was a nice stretch of road which coincidently allowed me to get from the Tidewater area to Charlotte in four hours.

        Prior to that were the good ol’ days for sure when a lot of VA state police were helping out with a miners strike in West Virginia IIRC. Enforcement was pretty lax on the interstates at that time and I remember plenty of times going down 64 and 95 at or near triple digit speeds and in one particular instance getting passed by a fair clip by a 2nd gen RX7.

        Also of recent interest was the radar detector law in Virginia when they considered eliminating it. During the session where the merits of the law were debated, several localities showed up and made the case against ending the law since speeding tickets were there primary source of income.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Unless almost all the other cars with you on those stretches of road listed are traveling at your same speed, then I would personally consider YOU the reckless driver, Chaparral. If everyone else is doing 75 in a 70 zone, then you should be doing 75, not 85; then you’re not causing a conflict. if everyone else is doing 60 in a 55 zone, then you should be doing 60, not 75; because YOU are causing a conflict by driving too fast. I see too many people–typically younger, know-it-all drivers who fancy themselves race car/bike drivers blasting and weaving down the freeways every single day and I’ve seen more than one occasion where that same fool was on the shoulder–or in a ditch. At least on the shoulder he was still alive–albeit receiving a speeding ticket. When in the ditch, there’s no guarantee the driver survived.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Vulpine, I take it you have not driven I-80 around the Great Salt Lake where traffic routinely flows at better than 100mph.

        Last time I drove that stretch I was cruising at 105mph in a group of about 12 cars heading West of Tooele. And that was just keeping up with traffic. I was the last in line. Slower traffic stayed in the right lane where the big rigs that could cruised at 85mph.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I haven’t driven around SLC in 30 years–back when the speed limit was 55 and everybody was still doing 65. I’m sure things have changed a lot since then.

          Still, for me one of the conditions that must be considered for any speed limit anywhere is the amount of traffic on the road, as well as the road type and condition itself. If I-40 through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas is still as rough as it was when I drove 2,000 miles in 48 hours ON that road, quite honestly going any faster than about 65 is hazardous–you’d vibrate right off the highway out into the desert it was so rough. And I was driving a quite comfortable coupe at the time. (’79 Dodge Aspen SE)

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Vulpine, yes, I’ve been on some of those ratty roads, and often the speed limit is too high for the condition the road deck is in.

            But the current administration is funding much of the road-resurfacing projects in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Arizona, to where there is year-round construction of the major thru-ways, like I-10, I-40, I-70 and I-80, along with I-25, and others. Long overdue shovel-ready projects.

            The last time I traveled these roads, they were actually in pretty good shape to where traffic flowed briskly at speeds well in excess of the speed limit.

            I-80 around the Great Salt Lake is a real joy to drive, but the salt is another thing altogether. It gets into everything!

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        Vulpine, on M39, 2/3 of the traffic is going between 70 and 75 MPH.

        Passing five cars for each car that passes you is close to the definition of the “85th percentile” speed.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I think you will find that if you actually measured the speeds, the 85% speed of ALL traffic on those roads is between 70 and 75 mph. There may well be 15% of people going faster, but that is still right in line with the theory.

      We are going through this in Maine currently, and just like in Michigan it was lead by the State Police thinking the speed limits were too low. They raised the speed limit on the northern half of I-95 from 65mph to 75mph, and the average speed of traffic increased by *1mph*. The southern non-turnpike portion and I-295 half gone to 70 for now, and will probably also go to 75. The Turnpike requires a different legislative process to change, which is in progress. It will go to 70 for now. They even raised the limit on I-295 right through downtown Portland from 45 to 50, and also on a ton of secondary roads by 5-10 mph. The predicted carnage has completely not happened, of course.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      You know those numbers are interesting. On my trip through West Texas on I-10 last week, speed limit 80 mph, I’d say most traffic was between 80 and 85 mph I only saw a handful of people barreling through at 90+ and no real speed demons. I don’t know if the difference is a matter of enforcement, or if the Texans are trying to save gas money on their famously long trips.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Much has to do with the temperature of the road deck and the condition/rating of their tires.

        Only a moron would do much over the I-10 speed limit in Texas on a day when the ambient temperature is over 100-degrees while riding on S, T or H-rated tires. The vast majority of drivers in that part of the country know and understand this.

        Many of those who did not know their limitations are memorialized by a roadside cross.

        It’s not about trying to save gas money. If it was, they’d be driving 55mph or slower, in econoboxes.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Jim, look at the actual vehicles driving on rural interstates. Not many sports cars being driven on that part of I-10. 85 mph feels about as fast as you want to drive an average family car or light truck, especially if you have to drive for many hours.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      To get around the parking lot that I witnessed on SB I-75 between the downriver Detroit ‘burbs and the Ohio line as I was going north last week, I elected to use I-696/I-275/M-14/US-23 to head home from the St. Clair Shores area, even though I might have cut ten miles/minutes off by the more direct I-94/US-23 jaunt to Ann Arbor going through downtown; I’ve had great fun on those stretches with higher speeds — at even 90mph, you are moving with most of the traffic, and you can still have the side of your car ripped off in the slipstream of some of the vehicles screaming past!

      I kept my cruise between 80 and 85, but on a couple stretches, including the WB M-14 one, I bumped it all the way up to 90, the limit of my Accord on Adaptive Cruise. Nary a whimper, nary a hiccup, was passed by a Mercedes E-something and a Range Rover, among others, and NOT ONE Johnny Law out! (Perhaps during vacation season around 4:00pm on Sunday, they might assume that most people are trying to get home from vacation and hafta restart the normal routine the next day, so we’re not going to stress them out any more, who knows!)

      OTOH, Ohio is THE HOME of the left-lane bandit!!! We’ve raised our speed limits to more closely conform to the 85th-percentile standard, though my suburb of Toledo would set things so low that you might as well just get out and push, and nearly every freeway in the Toledo area itself is going to be a giant construction pit for the next couple of years! But it would be nice if Ohio would go the last step and make it illegal for the self-righteous “I’m going the speed limit, so I don’t have to move over” idiots to continue to clog Ohio’s highways!

      (For those thinking about gas-hogging, that trip home still netted ** 33mpg ** with A/C running a little sluggishly, but still enough to be comfortable (since I was using the “ECO” mode in my Accord, which I hadn’t tried before on a road-trip-length drive with A/C being a necessity) — probably doesn’t make enough of a difference in actual mileage, but ya don’t know ’till you try!)

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    He makes sense, but too bad most will ignore him. There’s just too much money for insurance companies and municipalities to make. To anybody who drives the highway system regularly, it is very obvious that the limits are designed to make money, ironically while they reduce traffic safety. While those doing 90 in moderate traffic are certainly a hazard, those drivers are a small number indeed. The biggest hazard comes from the wide range of speeds that artificially low limits create. A road that can safely handle 70 will have most drivers between 65 and 75. But add in the small percentage of way over the limit drivers and worse, the at limit or less dawdlers that clog the center and left lanes. Now you have a recipe for disaster. But there’s no money to be made in addressing this problem so it will not happen. As BigTruck pointed out the speed limit in NYC is now going to be 25 MPH, ostensibly to protect pedestrians. Lost out on the politicians is that the drivers that go 30 are not the ones mowing down pedestrians. And the Mayor has no intention of enforcing any rules on pedestrians and bicyclists who are responsible for nearly half of the deaths in the first place (as stated in the Vision Zero document online) as enforcement would be too difficult and less money is made that way. But hundreds of new speed cameras are already installed. Here’s to a one term mayor….

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Insurance companies make money by not having to pay out claims. Every time they have to pay out, they’re losing profits. In other words, they want to see fewer accidents, fewer injuries and less damage, not more. I’m sure they support lower speeds and more effective enforcement and if changing the speed limits to truly suit the roads means fewer accidents, then they’re probably all for it.

      Now, before you fly off the handle about how high insurance rates are, keep in mind that most of it is due to stupid drivers crashing their cars and causing injuries and other real property damages. They have worked out the odds of certain age groups and certain automotive types and models getting involved in collisions and other incidents. Worse, because of what I consider to be excessive safety protocols our cars today are simply no longer repairable even after what some would consider a minor collision. If someone’s insurance rate goes up, it’s because the insurance company doesn’t want to lose more money than necessary paying for repairs or replacement. And of course, their payoff is almost always in line with the depreciation of the vehicle and not what you may actually owe. You’ve got to pay extra up front if you want true 100% coverage.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        They also make money on durable premium increases… Aka pointed tickets. In ny they are always lobbying for camera tickets to be pointed, and they have full access to the camera database even though these tickets aren’t technically moving violations add of yet. There is a huge gap between insurance self interest and motorist self interest.

        Do your part… Never reference the IIHS.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        This is very true — if I hit something hard enough for my front bags to pop, there is NO WAY IN HELL my car will ever be right again!

        And if a messed-up sensor or SRS module on a slightly older car blows a front and/or side bag during a love-tap to a bumper or pole, it’ll probably cost more to replace those parts then to write a check for the value, so off to the boneyard the car goes!

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    It doesn’t matter. Everyone in New York and PA drive at least 10mph under the speed limit as it is. And if its raining outside, forget it. Might as well turn around and call out of work. 55mph limits all over the place and I get stuck behind people that consciously limit their speed to an even 40.

    This guy sounds awesome, and so does raising the speed limit. But, I really can’t imagine the millions of drivers that insist on driving at 10-15mph below actually driving any faster on the same stretches of road if their limits were raised.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The word that I’ve heard over the wall from the road engineering community is that most drivers react more to what they see in their surroundings than to the speed limit sign.

      So, if most people are voluntarily going 10-15mph under the speed limit, either the speed limit is too high, or the road needs to be fixed.

      Posting a higher speed limit probably won’t solve your problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Too broad a bruch, Ricochet; if you were right, even YOU would be doing it too.

      I do agree that there are drivers on the road today that seem simply “afraid to drive” and honestly, I can’t argue the point. I’ve been driving for over 40 years now and I see both idiots and cowards on the roads. And it’s nothing new.

      There’s a running story that I think originated in Alabama about a factory worker who more often than not got caught in a huge backup on a 2-lane highway for no apparent reason most of the year. The only time it seemed to dissipate was during the summer months for three or four weeks. It was so bad that nearly everyone on his shift raced to the doors at the whistle in order to beat that line. Finally, one day, he discovered the cause as he was just a hair too slow getting out and got stuck behind a “little old schoolteacher” who drove 35mph on the highway despite the road being clear in front of her and ignoring the horns and lights of the big pickup truck behind her. For just about 5 miles she held that speed and because of conditions and posted traffic markings he could not pass her–at least, not legally.

      Well, to make the long story short, he mounted a heavy wooden bumper on the front of his truck and several weeks later ‘lucked up’ and got behind her again. After again flashing lights and blowing his horn several times, to no avail, he eased up and planted that wooden bumper against her back bumper–and hit the gas. He then proceeded to push her all the way into town at the posted speed limits and finally backed off once he crossed the city limits. Of course, she pulled into a store and called the police. The final offshoot was that she ended up getting a ticket for obstructing traffic while he received an official warning–the officer telling him unofficially that they’d never discovered the cause of the backup and thanking him for his civil service.

      Whether the story is true or not–the location and details may be different–with every myth there is a grain of truth. In that story, the “little old schoolteacher” always drove the speed limit after that event; those driving too slowly need to be singled out and ticketed just as much as those exceeding the limits. But how do you determine who’s going too slowly and when? Most interstates used to bear signs posting minimum speeds as well as maximum. I don’t remember the last time I was on I-70 and saw the Max 70/Min 40 signs. I’m sure some of you will remember them. I too question why some drivers feel they have to go 10 to 15 miles below the speed limits on state and county roads without cause (I consider an Amish buggy valid cause for traveling more slowly). On the other hand, some roads have speed limits that change so frequently and sometimes so widely you simply don’t know what the speed limit is at any given location. Another highway near me goes from 45 to 55 to 45 and back to 55 three times in the course of 5 miles. Over one stretch, due to the amount of traffic lights and side roads, drivers assume the limit is 45 over the entire length, which creates unnecessary congestion and frequently some stupid maneuvering to pass the slower traffic. On another road, the speed limit changes multiple times per day depending on time and season. Some drivers habitually drive the slower speed simply because it’s easier than paying attention to a LIGHTED speed limit sign.

      So. How do you resolve that kind of issue?

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        It’s certainly a tough issue to tackle. I actually had a conversation with my step father, a former Police Officer for over 20 years, about the same topic.

        What is driving too slowly and/or impeding traffic? Where do you draw the line? He explained that it’d be very hard not to be laughed out of traffic court for issuing a ticket for driving 5-10mph under the speed limit. Even for miles at a time. Maybe, if the conditions were perfect and it were a friday night at 2am after the bars close, then maybe there’d be a chance. I personally think that’s silly. The roads around here are freshly paved, 55mph state routes that extend for dozens of miles. Most turns are minimal and without a steep grade or off-camber feel. And yet, there are plenty of people that drive on these roads as if they were actually 40mph zones, riding their brakes for centuries to make sure they don’t exceed it while coasting down a hill. It has to be fear. It absolutely has to be. Watching them slam on their brakes as they approach turns has lead me to believe that people actually think that their car will flip over going around a turn traveling at more than 30mph.

        Incompetence and fear. My point is, wouldn’t you agree that a hesitant, fearsome driver that is afraid of executing a simple right on red or traveling at perfectly safe and normal speeds more dangerous than a confident law abiding driver? With that in mind, I would much rather see a person being ticketed for 15mph below the speed limit than a person doing 5mph over. Ever see PA drivers try to merge on I-80? The horror.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          That may explain the tendency in many drivers which I’ve seen in the past ten years or so, which is to use the acceleration lane to merge onto a freeway as a mere suggestion!

          Fifteen years ago (before big rigs had ABS and stability control), I was behind two cars, one in each lane, on the SB I-75 onramp from downtown Toledo. Both cars were doing 50mph, the limit on the main arterial coming out of d/t Toledo. (The speed limit on I-75 in that stretch was and remains 60mph with little enforcement; traffic usually moves between 65 and 75.) I was in the right lane of the two, which merges into the center lane, while the left lane of the onramp becomes the third lane. Something caught my attention in my rearview, and to my horror, I saw an 18-wheeler, with all of ‘em locked and smoking, and the trailer starting to dart around just a bit! In hindsight, I figured that he might have seen me a little earlier if I had hit my four-way flashers. So now I hit my flashers every time I’m forced behind traffic that is going below the posted speed limit, and it’s saved my bacon more than once! ODOT has since narrowed that onramp to a single lane which becomes the left lane, but I’ve still seen folks flying along and almost punting a put-putter after moving over into that lane past the on-ramp; usually, four out of five workdays, I’m behind ONE idiot who won’t attempt to accelerate until they’re well up onto the freeway itself, so my flashers are a-blinking behind them! (The exception is if I can be the first car at the last traffic light before the on-ramp/arterial split; I will have my cruise control set on 72mph well before I actually enter the freeway — and I barely have to utilize one-third throttle to do this! (I call that “Entering A Freeway 101!” My driver’s education book stated that “when you’re in the acceleration lane..accelerate!!!” Where have we lost that??!!) And sometimes, like the idiot in another Accord this past week, they don’t even accelerate past 50 until OVER the Maumee River bridge, oblivious to the honking horns and obscene gestures of the pack building behind them back to the Michigan line, when one can FINALLY get enough room to zip around them on the right! (After I made that maneuver, I kept watching this yutz — it took him another half-mile to get the hell out of the left lane! Should have called the police on him — see below!

          At least three days out of five at my “home” onramp onto NB I-75, I have to hit the flashers behind idiots doing *** 45mph *** entering 70+mph traffic! Coming SB, the onramp from the Ohio Turnpike and the right lane of the stretch of freeway to my exit is used as a giant deceleration lane..routinely, the traffic slows down to ** 40mph and sometimes slower ** because of a couple of idiots. (In fact one day after over-reacting and ABSing off onto the shoulder, I wrote an E-Mail to the Ohio Highway Patrol stating that they could get rich from nabbing folks impeding traffic in that stretch, and asking WHAT denotes “impeding traffic in Ohio?” Answer: They would look into things, and 50mph on a limited-access freeway. They haven’t done much about the first part, but its good to know about the second part!)

          Finally, most cowardly driver ever? The one in an AWD Kia Sportage SUV who was ahead of me on a cloverleaf ramp in a light snow, which should have been a piece of cake even in a FWD vehicle — doing all of **** four miles-per-hour!!!! **** That’s insane!! If you’re that scared, stay home!

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            In Newport News Va at the Jefferson Avenue/I64 interchange they have a beautifully designed clover leaf with long feed roads on and off the highway with a speed limit of 60 mph along that stretch. I’ve never measured it but on the west bound feed road that merges with I64 there is at least 1/3 to 1/2 mile of acceleration lane yet people just plod along and merge anywhere from 45 or 50 to maybe 60 mph.

            All that space and I cannot understand why people just plod along and merge at less than the posted limit when the road is not congested.

            Conversely up the road is the worst possible design at two on-ramps. Both the east bound Lee Hall and Fort Eustis I64 on-ramps which have practically no acceleration lane and have Yield signs that could require drivers to come to a complete stop at the highway if traffic is heavy enough.

            I have seen people pull into traffic at 35 mph or so expecting (could they be so oblivious?) traffic to slow for them. Its an area of constant accidents between these two on-ramps as traffic does 65 mph or faster in the right lane. Also since its all two-lane road there people also do speed up to cut drivers off when entering the highway in the right lane.

            Eventually its all supposed to be four lanes with HOV lanes all the way from VA Beach to Richmond and perhaps points past as it intersects with I95 in the Richmond area. Hopefully they will redesign the on-ramps at Fort Eustis and Lee Hall significantly.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            They all need to watch Disney’s short, “Freewayphobia”. Probably the best driver’s ed film ever made.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I don’t mind the ridiculously low limits. I’ll take my chances if I need to. It’s the speed bumps (mounds) through certain neighbourhoods that really P!$$ me off. I’m almost sure it’s unconstitutional. I almost have to come to a complete stop. If I’m late, I’ll launch over them in my work truck. The crashing sound will wake the dead. I’m sure it shakes their houses too.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Denver, you simply should have kept quiet. Too many people are aware of your opinions on choice of vehicle; now we know why. You’re an habitual speeder who has to drive fast no matter the conditions. Those “mounds” are there specifically to slow people like you down. They’re perfectly legal as long as they’re no taller than a certain height, so any damage you do to your vehicle because of them is all on you.

      Hey, be happy. The HOA where I live wants to put them in, but the town says they will no longer plow our roads during and after a snowstorm if we do. Now THAT’s a serious threat–here.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I just drive at what ever feels right, given blind intersections, weather conditions, glare, etc. that’s often slower than most everyone else that just drive about 10 mph over the speed limit, no matter what. So I rarely check my speed, but when I do, I’m usually over or under by 2 or 3 mph.

        But if HOAs are unhappy with the speed limits on their streets, they need to lobby to have them changed to 5 mph. But when did I sign off on putting damn obstacle courses on the streets I travel on and pay dearly to be as smooth as silk?

        It’s 40 mph on my residential street and I know for a fact it’s these same HOA A$$HATS that drive past my house at 50+.

    • 0 avatar
      turboprius

      Speed bumps are dangerous if you’re walking backwards and they blend in with the road (happened to one of my friends), but otherwise, they stop speeders.

      They painted the speed bumps yellow and added a sign after the mentioned incident. For that stretch of road, where the other set of amenities is located (yes, some of these Georgia neighborhoods are mega-sized), speed bumps are necessary, mainly because it’s a perfectly straight gateway between two streets. A street like that is tempting, but with parking spots, you don’t want to run the risk of hurting anyone or anyone’s vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I can point out one community that tried speed bumps to slow traffic on a road just as you describe, Turbo–they failed. They ended up having to install high-curb chicanes–yes, literally road blocks that force you do drive around them–to slow traffic. You’d be surprised at how scarred they are after only about 3 years in place but daytime traffic through there now really does go only about 30 mph instead of the previous 50. The speed bumps had almost no effect at all on their speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        If it’s too dangerous to drive the speed limit on a particular street, then it’s set too high. Streets with speed bumps aren’t special, except the kid that live there must be…

        Speed bumps on public streets are irrational and anti-social behaviour. No one’s kids or property are more important than anyone else’s.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          You’re missing the point, Denver. Once that residential community is built, all its streets are PUBLIC. If drivers refuse to obey the speed limit, the community can petition for speed control devices to be installed. In some cases they don’t even have to go that far; they can go ahead and build them. As I pointed out in one case near where I live, the problem was so bad the city installed real chicanes–forcing drivers to slow down or risk serious damage to their vehicles. Those chicanes are only a few years old and already badly scarred, too.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            No, you’re missing the point. If drivers aren’t obeying the speed limit on a particular street, they’re doing the same all over town, on every residential street. I don’t think there’s anybody that wishes cars would drive FASTER in front of their house. Most would choose much, much slower. So are we going to put obstacle courses everywhere people live and cars drive past???

            If there was actually more incidents/accident there, the speed limit would be dropped down and cops would step up enforcement there. But some home owners feel like they’re special. And speed bumps should appear in front of schools before anywhere else. That’s not what’s happening.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Aw, poor baby. If your car gets well-known enough, I hope they lay down thumb tacks. Slow down!

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I’d like to see enforcement of lane usage on the highways. I drive lot of local highways where the speed limit is 65 and nothing below 80 will get you pulled over. In order to drive 78MPH which I like to do, I have to weave in and out of five lanes of traffic. Often the far right lane will actually be the lane you can drive the fastest in, as idiots seem to drift over the left for no reason whatsoever. Even in light traffic, people will spread out across all the available lanes, as if they each want their own lane. Infuriating.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    If only this officer would apply himself to convincing my sister that driving significantly slower than the rest of traffic on I-95 creates a hazard. You see, she has an issue with how she focuses, and the sign says 55.

    Good luck

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      If the sign says 55, then by golly she should be doing 55-or no more than 64. I see too many idiots driving through Delaware specifically who act like the speed limit is 75–when NO stretch of I-95 has that high a limit for 100 miles in either direction.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Sensible regulations and law enforcement? What-a-Concept.

  • avatar
    redav

    Yay! More drivel about unethical and conspiring laws & their enforcement! (/sarcasm) When a type of article becomes a trope, it’s probably time to move on to other things.

    There’s a real logistics issue with an 85th percentile law: build a road, let people drive on it however they want, measure, and then set a speed limit. For lack of a better word, that’s dumb.

    Another problem is that you can easily have 85% of drivers go 50 mph through a school zone, but that’s obviously irresponsible. Sure, the law will have exceptions for such obvious cases. But what about non-obvious cases? I cam agree that most people will drive at a speed they think is safe. But I can’t vouch for what they think is safe. The fact there are so many accidents does testify to the argument that people really don’t know what is safe. Not only does it depend on their perceptions (of the environment, other people, and their own abilities), but also the information that’s available to them. Is there a blind driveway, wild animals, large variance in road conditions (slippery when wet, likelihood of fog, etc.)? Any driver who doesn’t know all the hazards cannot make an informed decision on what is safe. There is also an issue of timing. Perhaps a certain speed is safe during the day, but is it safe at night, during rush hour or when school lets out, weekdays vs weekends, etc.? Will the 85th percentile change over time? Rules of thumb like the 85th percentile don’t address such things, and thus it’s difficult to defend it as a basis for law.

    I fully support that speed limits should be the ‘right’ speed. I agree that driving too slowly doesn’t improve safety. I believe the safest condition is when everyone dries at (nearly) the same speed. I don’t believe aggressive enforcement through speeding tickets is particularly effective at improving safety (but it is effective at finding people with outstanding warrants, which does wonders for improving the efficiency of police work). However, I don’t see an 85th percentile rule as being particularly effective, either. It doesn’t support people driving at the same speed; it doesn’t address propriety of enforcement (besides reducing the number of tickets issued); I don’t believe it can be (universally) shown to be the ‘right’ speed to optimize safety, convenience, pollution, etc. I don’t believe the motivation of the rule’s supporters is safety; rather, I believe they’ve picked it up as a talking point to control the debate (we see the same strategy used for abortion, immigration, equality issues, etc.).

    Attitudes of the ‘we need the right to drive faster’ faction will be one of the driving motivators to switch to autonomous cars. Perhaps ironically, their efforts to drive how they want may cost them the freedom to drive at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      This kind of article used to be more plentiful, so seeing only one every so often is tolerable. Nobody’s forcing any of us to stay here and read them, but yes, it did get tiring seeing “F*ck da police” in every other headline.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The 85th percentile limit is a concept that comes from traffic engineering.

      In effect, the 85th percentile tells us that the safe speed is usually determined by the flow of traffic.

      There are times when it is not, and it is up to traffic engineers to know the difference (and since this is more science than art, they usually do.)

      It’s not a political concept, but based upon an understanding of how drivers choose the speeds that they choose to drive. What’s political is the system that we have now, which involves state legislators setting statewide maximums based upon a whole lot of nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Sounds like too narrow of a viewpoint to me. In general the 85th percentile rule IS working, as exemplified by several comments previous to yours. On average, people tend to drive at a speed they consider safe depending on the road itself and its environs. A four-lane expressway with very limited cross traffic can get away with 60-65mph speed limits where a two-lane highway with private driveways hidden behind curves and embankments may only warrant a 45mph speed limit. The people who know those roads, the ones who drive them every day, are far more likely to know what speed is safe than some traffic engineer operating out of an office in the state capitol.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Gary Megge’s comments about the benefits of the 85th percentile and the effects of raising and lowering limits are supported by an abundance of research.

    But highway speed limits are usually set by state legislators who apparently aren’t fond of using research to inform their decisions. Which is to say that their powers of reason accurately reflect the mentality of much of the electorate, which uses gut feeling and bias instead of facts to make most decisions, and which resists most attempts to educate them to the contrary.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Yeah… until those state legislatures themselves get caught by one of those speed traps–at which point something is usually done pretty quickly.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, there have been times when the governor’s motorcade was turned in for speeding, but nothing ever happened. The privilege of the ruling class, as they say.

        Not the same as if you’re one of the great unwashed tax-paying masses.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    I don’t really feel I have a right to any strong opinions on the speed limit issue, since 80% of the time what I’m driving (tractor or truck) determines how fast I’m going. After sitting on an 18 mph tractor for an hour, anything else seems blisteringly fast. As long as I’m going 60 mph (a mile a minute), I’m happy. Makes for easy calculations.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Last rental Ryder Volvo I had was governored to 73mph. A real pain on the Kansas Turnpike where privately owned big rigs were routinely blasting past me at 85mph.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Now THAT’s the truth, Doc. I base all my figures on 50mph average (including stops) and usually come out dead on, no matter how far I drive. 1,000 miles in 20 hours is easy. 2,000 miles takes 48 hours because I have to stop for sleep. But then, my actual driving speed rides between 60 and 65 most of the time for comfort and economy. Even when I had my ’96 Camaro (extremely streamlined) long-distance trips rarely touched 70mph unless I HAD to pass a slower-moving wolfpack and managed over 32mpg as a result.

  • avatar
    jimble

    Cars have gotten much safer since most speed limits were set, in terms of both accident avoidance (better steering and brakes) and accident protection (air bags, structural improvements), so it’s appropriate to review highway speed limits and adjust upwards as appropriate. But what hasn’t changed is the physics of a vehicle striking a human body. When a vehicle hits a pedestrian, injury and death rates increase exponentially with the speed of the vehicle. So in areas with significant pedestrian presence, like most of NYC, a 25 mph speed limit is reasonable.

  • avatar
    zinnah

    Just returned from a trip to Idaho from California that included a drive through Nevada and the desert of southeastern Oregon. The speed limit in Nevada on two lane hwy 95 was 70. Hit Oregon and it dropped to 55 which I and all other drivers ignored, went up to 65 when we crossed the Idaho state line. This on a lightly traveled, well engineered road that was mostly straight across the desert. Absolutely ridiculous.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It’s all about the money.

    The state get a stealth tax increase, and the insurance companies love it because they get to jack up people’s rates when they get caught.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      No longer necessarily true. It’s a stereotype that has received enough attention that there are state and Federal laws limiting how much a given community/township/city can garner from traffic citations. I believe the figure comes out to about 10% or less of the community’s working budget.

  • avatar
    stuki

    –Michigan upping speed limits to more realistic levels given contemporary cars.

    –Germany being suckered and dragged by the rest of Eurodom into lowering limits for soda bubble reasons…..

    –> Ultimate driving machines about to start emerging from a different place?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Living in the Southwest I find most of our speed limits to be reasonable (with a few exceptions, like 4 lane rural highways set at 55 mph). The worst to me have almost always been Midwestern interstates, as soon as I cross the Mississippi River when heading east to visit my folks the speeds become numbing at 55 or 60. The thing that makes me crazy is that fact that most of the roads are table flat compared to the Rocky Mountain West, which has higher speed limits.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    Many drivers are too damn busy on mobiles to drive at speed limit or above. Drive any highway in Chicago, or any other city, and you’ll be kissing a bumper in the very left lane because of some moron operating a mobile device while going 45 or lower in a 55 zone. 65 zones gets worse. We are the only country, perhaps including China, that cruises in the left lane no matter what the speed. Those are the ones that need to be heavily penalized. When living in Japan I loved the fact that the left lane was strictly for passing, very fast passing and returning. Of course Germany, France, etc does this exceptionally well.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I thought some Chicago freeways, like the inbound Dan Ryan, require you to be going 80mph minimum to avoid being run over. Interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        My father, a good, law-abiding (mostly) farm-raised guy who generally does 5-10 over the speed limit, recently drove from MN to Hammond, IN (just past Chicago). As he entered the Chicago metro area and the speed limit gradually decreased to 60-65, he noticed very few, if any motorists paid any mind…so he just kept on going 80.

  • avatar
    its me Dave

    Average traffic speed on the highway is a pretty useless descriptive statistic. It’s the damn standard deviation that kills.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Interesting read.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/29/us/20-states-to-win-the-right-to-set-a-65-mph-speed.html

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The reality is that in a lot of cases speed limits are set lower than they should be purely for revenue enhancement purposes.

    Years ago there was a State Route that I used to travel very frequently. The speed limit on that road was 50 mph but the reality was that the average speed was 45mph because it was a two lane twisty road where there was zero shoulder in many areas and the corners were frequently blind. On the weekends it was also very popular with bicyclists. One day I noticed the speed measuring sensors strung across the road. Base on my experience of driving the road twice a day in most cases the 85th percentile should have put the speed limit at that 45mph mark and that is what the official state position was. Low and behold the limit was lowered to 40mph a couple of months later.

    Since it was a state route it was under the jurisdiction of the state patrol. They frequently set up speed traps a point where they could hide behind a row of bushes. The problem was that the County cops also liked to do the same. There ended up being a legal battle between the state and county as the state didn’t want the county cutting into their profits.

    A couple of years later the state patrol announced after years of maintaining that they didn’t give officers quotas publicly announced that they removed the ticket quota for officers and changed it to a “contact” quota. Of course this was back before the economic crisis. They have obviously reinstated the quotas based on my observations. Like clock work they set up revenue enhancement activities on the last 2-3 days of the month on the freeway near my house. There are a couple of on ramps where they can sit and take radar where you can’t see them until it is too late. A team of 3-5 cars will set up at one or more of those locations on the 28th, 29th, 30th or 31st and they’ll spend the entire day there, often two days in a row. The rest of the month you’ll never see a car in those places nor really see many cars on that stretch of road.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “There are a couple of on ramps where they can sit and take radar where you can’t see them until it is too late.”

      I used to see that all the time on I-70 through Colorado and Kansas. I got so I could ‘feel’ which ramps they were on and slow down. Never got caught in either state–including one time when I was leading a convoy of rental cars to Kansas City out of Denver for out-processing and sale. None of the drivers with me noticed him until he blasted past us chasing another car that didn’t want to slow down with us. Funny thing–I had a CB, but didn’t say a word, just double-clicked the mic for attention and slowed down. Whole crew slowed with me and avoided the trap.

  • avatar
    dontsh00tmesanta

    I’m always at 5 above the limit

    Anyone going faster can just change lanes or wait haha

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Started driving in the ’70s and have garnered exactly one speeding ticket. If nefarious revenue conspiracy this be, hasn’t much worked with me. Non-issue.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Increased speed limits on freeways would be nice, but I’d be afraid of merging. Not because I can’t get up to the required speed within the confines of a typical Minnesota entrance ramp, but because I always get stuck behind the people who don’t understand that getting to freeway speed is the who point of an acceleration lane – and usually hit the freeway at 40 mph.

    There’s nothing more exciting, in an explosive diarrhea kind of way, than getting onto a 70 mph freeway going 40 mph merging in front of a 70 mph semi with nowhere to go.

    There have been times that I have hoped for a red light getting onto the freeway (as long as I’m first in line) so that I could get to speed and safely merge. When I have my druthers I usually hit any freeway at 75 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      See my post above!! Right down to having my day — no matter how bad things may have gone at work — being made a little brighter by being the first person out of the blocks. (Well..as long as nobody pulls into the lane prior to the break-off. Haven’t had to ABS behind one of these fools yet, but it’s a buzz-kill for sure!)

      It’s one reason of many that I WILL have a V6 (or above) on the other end of my (lead) right-foot as long as I am able!


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