NYT Op Ed Calls for Speed Limiters

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
nyt op ed calls for speed limiters

New York Times Op-Editorialist Dr. Kent A. Sepkowitz is an expert in infectious diseases and something of a professional essayist. Having dispensed with the “ inexact science of penis length,” Sepkowitz is out to stop speeders. As you’d expect, he begins with a bit of statistical manipulation, or more, precisely, an accusation of same. “In Texas, in 2005, 3,504 people died in a traffic accident; 1,426 (about 41 percent) were considered speeding-related. In sharp contrast, for Florida, 3,543 died yet only 239 were considered speeding-related — about 7 percent. Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana and New Jersey, among other states, also report rates well below 20 percent. This variation is not just shoddy government work. With alcohol, for example, the 39 percent national rate varies only by a whisker when examined state to state (except for Utah’s admirable rate of 13 percent).” The bottom line for this non-expert expert: there ought to be a [new] law, ’cause speeding is dangerous and immature. “The technology to limit car speed has existed for more than 50 years — it’s called cruise control. In its common application, cruise control maintains a steady speed, but a minor adjustment would assure that vehicles, no matter the horsepower, never go past 75 miles per hour. This safety measure should be required of every new automobile, the same as seat belts, turning signals, brake lights and air bags. Sure, it would take us longer to get from here to there. But thousands of deaths a year are too great a cost for so adolescent a thrill as speeding.”

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  • Blastman Blastman on Sep 08, 2008
    “In Texas, in 2005, 3,504 people died in a traffic accident; 1,426 (about 41 percent) were considered speeding-related. Speeding related? What does use of the word related mean? This is similar to accidents that are deemed alcohol-related. It's simply a method to pad the numbers (statistics) by using the word "related" to impugn some possible relationship to cause that may or may not exist. Case in point: If I get into an accident, say … someone runs a stop sign and hits me. Suppose I was just coming home from lunch and had 1 beer (blood alcohol level 0.02 … well below the legal limit of 0.08). Well folks -- what we have here is an alcohol-related accident. Wasn't my fault, the other person wasn't drinking at all, yet here we have a crash that happened between 2 parties where one of them was drinking. So the government writes it up as an alcohol related crash. This is the type of nonsensical statistics that governments collect and publish and that organizations like MAAD use to pad their statistics in their public campaigns against drunk driving. It's complete nonsense and really amounts to lying to the public. If I'm perfectly sober and hit a drunk driver and kill him -- that would not only be an alcohol-related accident, but an alcohol related highway death. So, rather than telling us how many accidents drunk drivers actually cause, and how many deaths drunk drivers (over the legal limit) really cause on the highways, we get these padded statistics by use of the word "related". It allows organizations to make the problem look worse than it really is and sell more regulation to public through the fraudulent use of statistics that don't mean what they are implied to mean.

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Sep 08, 2008
    But domestically, it is not absolute number of deaths that matters but the rate, that is the number of deaths per population. I'd like to correct that. The standard benchmarks is fatalities per vehicle miles traveled, which takes into account the population and vehicle usage. The funny thing about using Florida as a contrast to Texas is that according to NHTSA, Florida had a higher fatality rate than Texas during every year between 1994 and 2006, except for in 2003 when they tied. In most years, Texas outperformed Florida significantly. Not only that, but Florida also performed below the 50 state + DC national average for every year of that 13 year period. Using Florida as a standard would increase the national fatality rate by 15-33% per year, which would be a good thing only if you have a death wish.

  • Aren Cambre Aren Cambre on Sep 08, 2008

    Florida's stats are an anomaly. Florida's police uses a "catch all" called "careless driving." Because of that, they badly underreport speed-related fatalities. Even then, however, "speed-related" is meaningless for two reasons: 1. They falsely presume the validity of speed limits. Simply being over the limit = "speed-related" even if the speed was not dangerous. 2. "Related" is not the same as "caused by." A crash can be speed-related when the speed did not cause it. Just one vehicle has to be "speeding," and whamo, it's speed-related.

  • Capeplates Capeplates on Sep 12, 2008

    Fit limiters and within a matter of weeks someone willl come up with a solution on how to bypass them. A total waste of time and energy - cars dont kill it's the idiot behind the wheel that causes accidents