The German equivalent of AAA, Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC), has long been a proponent of a limitless Autobahn. However, the group recently walked back its zeal for the cause amid demands from environmental groups to enact speed limits in a bid to curb emissions.
While most of the Autobahn has the same posted limits you’d find on most North American highways, there are plenty of sections where people can drop the hammer and go as fast as conditions permit. Safety advocates have often raised an eyebrow, encouraging regulators to limit additional sections of the roadway, but universal limits have always been a bridge too far. Now that environmental groups have joined the fray, the issue has garnered a lot more attention.
While California has some of the best driving roads in the country, large swaths of the state suffer from serious congestion issues. For years, the preferred solution was to bolster public transit in San Francisco and Los Angeles while simultaneously establishing high-speed rail lines between the two areas. Unfortunately, costs ballooned and support for the project dwindled.
Legislators are now left with a problem. Abandoning the rail program means settling for partially completed lines incapable of transporting passengers directly between LA and the Bay Area. California needs a different solution, and Sen. John Moorlach (R-CA) has a doozy of a proposition: highway lanes with no speed limit.
Effectively, an American Autobahn.
No, this isn’t a question about resurgent — and somewhat ironic — demand for the Geo Metro and its tepid ilk, but Timothy Cain probably has something to say about the chances of success of a latter-day model. Rather, this is a question about the way you drive, and the decisions of those who govern us.
We’re all cool with who we take orders from, right? Okay, good. Lest this writer stand accused of not getting to the point in a swift and efficient manner, here goes — are you willing to get to your destination in a less swift manner?
The Interstate Highway System is pretty much set in stone (or concrete and asphalt, to be exact), so there’s little hope of more driving engagement for bored motorists who long for a few twisties during their long-distance slogs.
Governments can raise or lower speed limits, but they sure can’t do much to alleviate boredom. In our morning discussion here at TTAC, Indiana and Pennsylvania came up as the worst offenders for yawn-inducing drives. Geography is fickle like that. Of course, a sure-fire way to reduce the boredom that sets in between cities is to simply close the gap in less time.
Just think: fewer awkward silences between yourself and a passenger, fewer awful songs on local radio, and more time saved, at the expense of more gas consumed. It seems a decent trade-off. We’ve come a long way since the dark days of the 1970s, when crossing a state at 55 miles per hour felt like taking the Oregon Trail.
However, have we come far enough?
I remember the day I committed the minor misdemeanor offense of reckless operation as if it was yesterday, although it was actually one day longer ago than the statute of limitations regarding minor misdemeanors in Ohio. I was surrounded by my accomplices — my “gang” if you will — and we were hell-bent on committing some serious traffic offenses.
The situation was this: We were all driving through Cincinnati, Ohio, at approximately 65 miles per hour. This is the speed limit for Route 71 on the north side of Cincinnati. Approximately five miles south of I-275, the speed limit on 71 drops from 65 to 45. There’s no visible logic or reasoning behind this; I-71 is still a five-or-six-lane road at this point. There are certainly times when the road is brought to a standstill by traffic, but the same is true of I-71 between Columbus and Delaware, Ohio, which has a marked limit of 70 mph.
As I passed the speed limit sign together with my gang of approximately 20 visible vehicles — most of which were doing about 70-75 mph but a few of which were going slower or faster than that — not a single driver touched his or her brakes. In the space of a few moments, we had gone from being legal or semi-legal road users to serious violators of the Ohio Revised Code. Had there been a sufficient police presence in the area, every one of us could have been sentenced to 60 days in jail and been subject to impounding of our vehicles.
This is clearly ridiculous, so it’s time to ask the question that is always relevant in situations like this: Cui bono?
When driving, consider how often you look down to check your speed. Even with a good sense of your current velocity, entering a known enforcement zone or seeing a posted limit forces you to stop what we are doing and take quick peeks at the speedometer. It may only be a fraction of a second each time, but that’s still a fraction of a second where you aren’t paying full attention to the road ahead.
You might think that the average motorist is perfectly capable of such basic multitasking without causing additional risk. According to new research, you might be wrong.
“How do I name drop, how do I name drop, how do I name drop?”
I couldn’t find the words.
Last Tuesday, I was driving GCBC’s long-term 2015 Honda Odyssey across Halifax, Nova Scotia, (where my best friend Ken is a police officer) to a very expensive dental appointment.
As soon as I noticed flashing lights in my rearview mirror, the first image that flashed into my mind was of Ken’s hairless dome and bearded face.
“Maybe they know each other,” I thought. Maybe this cop and good ol’ Ken had their seatbacks kicked by the same juvenile delinquent. Maybe they share boxes of Tim Hortons donuts while parked side by side in a mall parking lot waiting for crime to happen on cold winter nights.
Maybe, on the merits of Ken’s good name, I’ll be allowed to go free.
Dozens of factors combine to determine posted speed limits on highways and local roads. Among those factors are vehicle limitations, weather conditions, non-motorized road users, old ladies writing letters to city council, and — perhaps most fundamentally — design speed.
What is design speed? Read on, my friends.
After speculation that Germany’s famed Nurburgring would lift speed limits at the track for manufacturer testing this year, GTSpirit.com has reported that officials will keep the limits in place for at least this year.
“There is no change in the situation so far and the speed limit at three sections of the Nordschleife will not be lifted during the 2015 season,” track spokesman Uwe Baldes told GTSpirit.com.
Nurburgring management implemented speed limits in three portions of the track after a Nissan GT-R GT3 crashed and killed a spectator during a race held in March. The limits effectively ended the manufacturer arms race for the fastest production time around the circuit.
Per Road and Track, the operators of the famed Nurburgring in Germany may be preparing to dump its speed limits for manufacturers and may mean a return for manufacturer records.
After a Nissan GT-R GT3 crashed and killed a spectator, the famous road installed speed limits during specific sections for safety and enforced those limits during testing for manufacturers — effectively ending record run chest-thumping.
The European Union Commission has pushed back against reports from within the UK government that the EU was considering implementing devices in private cars that would prevent them from exceeding the speed limit, calling the reports “inaccurate beyond the limit”. In an unsigned statement on the EU’s official blog, the EU obliquely criticizing the British government and suggested that the British media deliberately misrepresented the EU’s position. The remarks denied that any such proposals or even non-binding recommendations are “in the pipeline”. The full statement is below the jump.
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