Skip to comments.Drive 55, Try to Stay Alive (students film the results of going the speed limit)
Posted on 03/02/2006 7:29:00 PM PST by Turbopilot
They knew it was dangerous.
"We could have really been hurt," said one of the Atlanta college students after their experiment.
It won't win an Oscar, but 'A Meditation on the Speed Limit,' a short film that was the brainchild of college student Andy Medlin, is quite a hit.
Some strange scenes, including a car passing in the emergency lane, were the product of Georgia State students simply following the speed limit.
"I was pretty sure that I was doing something stupid," said another.
That may be true. But, young and brash, they had a plan.
They wanted to go the speed limit on I-285.
In four cars, on all four lanes, the students from Georgia State University and other local colleges paced the entire midmorning flow of Perimeter traffic behind them at 55 mph for half an hour. They call it "an act of civil obedience."
"I get a lot of tickets," said Andy Medlin, 20, the Georgia State student who came up with the idea. "The best way to expose the flaws in the system is by following it."
Thankfully, they survived unharmed, though much maligned. The eight students captured it all on video for a student film competition, and the five-minute piece has fired up the country this week on blogs, talk radio, and national news broadcasts.
"NPR was the first biter," said Jordan Streiff, 21, the group's experienced filmmaker and an Asian Studies major at Georgia State. "Initially, we were going to be on ABC's cable network and Web site, but overnight the traffic to the video spiked so they put it on World News Tonight."
The film, "A Meditation on the Speed Limit," was intended as a drama, but won best comedy for Georgia last month at the Campus MovieFest, a traveling movie competition. It will compete against other states' winners for a national title later this spring, said David Roemer, one of the film festival's founders.
In the meantime, driven by blog attention to the video that Streiff posted on Google, a national discussion has bloomed about what is legal and what is right. One of the filmmakers, Georgia State student Amanda Hunter, was interviewed about it on Neal Boortz's radio show on WSB.
"It's just so overwhelming," Hunter said Thursday, after leaving a midterm exam on Sufism and Islamic mysticism. "Jordan's calling me today like, 'Do you have time for CBS?' I called him back and he said, 'Don't worry about that now, just take your test.'"
David Spear, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said if the students weren't blocking emergency vehicles and were going the speed limit, "they didn't do a thing wrong." Spear added that the speed limit was lowered to 55 because it saves lives. "In Atlanta, the actual effect of it is we expect the people going 75 to move over so the people going 95 can have the right of way," he said.
There was little doubt what the students' companions on the road thought that sunny Friday in January. The video shows drivers' steadily mounting hostility to the blockade. Cars honk. They drive onto the shoulder to speed around the students. Obscene gestures are made. The money shot, however, was captured beautifully by Hunter, who stood with her camera on the Church Street bridge over I-285 to watch the approaching traffic.
What she saw was ... nothing. An empty highway, with one or two stray cars. And then, like the hordes on the horizon, over the rise come the students backed by a phalanx of cars, cars, cars. The film plays it for all it's worth, bouncing the image back and forth to the funky beat of the Guru Fish song "Plush."
"It was so fantastic," said Hunter. "I just started jumping up and down and going crazy. There's beeping horns and craziness."
Then it passed, Hunter said, and a woman driving on the bridge stopped and asked, "What was the point of all that?"
Hunter explained the project. It was to make people think, she said.
The woman amicably rolled her eyes, Hunter recalled. "It was kind of like, 'Oh, you kids and your statements.'"
Even better would be a law requiring you to keep right except to pass,...PA does. And they have troopers who hate NJ drivers going down the middle of the PATP.
Our freeways are designed for much higher speeds. I'd sure like to see limits of 75 on the freeway.
I drive faster. I have to get to work. Highways were designed for rapid travel. 80 is normal for me....New cars (if properly maintained) are also safer than when the speed limit of 55 was thought up. My Tib at 90 mph is much more stable than my KR 500 was at 70 mph.
If I move to Texas, I will use my Emperor of the World powers to limit the slow drivers to county and township roads. If that's a problem, they'll only be permitted to use bicycles and rickshaws. The ones that really tee me off will only be permitted to travel on foot when I am asleep.
Just wait until you see my solution thatfor people who get in the 10 Item or Less checkout lines with a cart full of stuff! You'll love it!!
You said -- "By the laws of physics, perhaps, but by no law of this country."
Well, I've seen it happen in two states -- Oregon and Texas. In both cases, people traveling the speed limit were "blocking" traffic in the left lanes (on a freeway, in both states).
I say "blocking" because there were cars in all lanes across the freeway. In Oregon, it was three lanes and three cars across. In Texas, it was two lanes and cars in each (I was the other car).
In both states, even if you are going up to the speed limit, if you are "blocking" the lane, you are going to get a ticket. Like I said -- I saw it happen (plus the fact that I know it's a law, too in both states).
That's why I said in another post, that what a person better do is accelerate around the other car, even if it means going faster than the speed limit -- and then slow back down when you pull over a lane to the right.
I've done that several times with a state trooper behind me. They usually come up on you really fast, even if you are going the speed limit. You can accelerate to faster than the speed limit and then slow back down again -- as long as you do it almost immediately.
Yes, it does have to do with the speed limit. Yes, it's unsafe if people are having to brake and take evasive maneuvers, but if it is because they are going way beyond the maximum allowable speed, that's their fault. Trying to put blame on the person who is going as fast as possible under the law rather than the person speeding is ridiculous.
It wont be fiction when it happens.
In essence, the speed limit is discretionary, and the "effective" speed limit varies based upon how many tickets Mr. Officer needs to write....
Which section of the Constitution authorizes the federal government to set speed limits?
How come nobody called *47? The Highway Patrol would have put an expensive end to this stunt.
When you're driving across country, it should be 75. Used to be you hit Nebraska and Iowa, you had to drop from 75 to 55, just idiotic. It has changed though. By the way, out in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Montana Wyoming, I never do under a 100. Never got a ticket either.
"Even better would be a law requiring you to keep right except to pass,...PA does. And they have troopers who hate NJ drivers going down the middle of the PATP."
Great. Clog already clogged roads MORE, and give the donut munchers another 50,000 cars to choose from when it comes time to fill the monthly coffers.
That said, I always wanted to do just what these college kids did - follow the stupid speed limit rules, clog up the highway with infuriated drivers, and cause general havoc by following the letter of the law.
No and no. The law requires traffic going slower than the posted speed limit to move to the right. Also, by going the speed limit they were not 'impeding traffic'. Had they been going 54 mph they would have been impeding traffic. As it was, they were only impeding speeders, which is not illegal. They were not blocking emergency lanes, nor were they blocking emergency vehicles. Nope, no laws broken. Were they being obnoxious? Yes, but that in itself is not illegal, either. At least they didn't shut the road down completely like they do for bridge jumpers or crane sitters!
I really don't have a problem with this little act of civil obedience with one caveat - blocking emergency vehicles is dangerous, inconsiderate, and illegal. However, the kiddies should not be surprised that people got upset at them - when you step into someone's life and use them for your own purposes, whether that be politics or performance art, you are courting a punch in the nose for presumption whether you are technically legal or not.
A couple of Drivers/writers from Road and Track proved this long ago. The safest highway is when people all drive around the SAME speed. If traffic is moving at 80, drive 80.
If you do not like how slow the person in front of you is going, then you should get up earlier. Sounds like theses people were effectively setting the flow of traffic.
The snide and tepid point has been made time and again. Notwithstanding, federal laws exist. You are welcome to break them and then deal with the aftermath.
You said -- "And you are relying on the trooper's discretion in not ticketing you for violating the law."
Well, if you're talking about getting a ticket for impeding traffic in the left lane, you wouldn't get that if you move over. In other words, as long as you "pass" and get around and then over to the right -- you're not impeding traffic. The ticket will happen if you're "sitting there" and blocking that lane of traffic -- just because you happen to be going the speed limit. You can't do that -- even if you are going the speed limit. Therefore, what I'm saying is that as long as you *pass* and get out of the way, there's not a problem (with "impeding").
But, if you're talking about getting a ticket for "speeding" -- you wouldn't get it as long as you *get around* and slow down again. Speeding up is preferable to slowing down (to go back in the right lane) -- because if it's a question of "impeding traffic" -- slowing down is going to impede it even further. Speeding up to get around and then slow down again (immediately) -- is not going to get you a ticket.
Again, the scenario is first going the speed limit, and gradually passing, but having traffic coming up behind you with you starting to "impede traffic". In that case, you speed up faster than the speed limit for a few seconds, and then immediately slow back down again when you get over.
So, either way, you're not going to be getting ticket.
You said -- "That doesn't make any sense. You can't be cited legally for impeding someone's "right" to go 25 MPH over the speed limit especially if you are already going the maximum allowable speed."
Well, in Texas and Oregon (from the law and from me seeing it happen) you can very well get ticketed for impeding traffic. No matter whether it makes sense to your own logic -- it is the law and it happens.
You said -- "Even better would be a law requiring you to keep right except to pass, but I don't think anyplace in the U.S. has such a law on multilane roads."
It's posted in certain places (on certain highways) in Texas and I think Oklahoma. So, if it says so on an official highway sign (which it does), then you're going to get a ticket if a trooper is around and he doesn't have anything better to do.
For years I have had one of those daytime nightmares (daymares?) of bored college kids going out on a busy Interstate (say I-70 in Ohio) on the Friday of a holiday weekend, filling all available lanes and going 55 or even much slower just to see how much havoc would result.
Haven't watched the film but I plan to. My only concern is that the 'punk kid' angle and/or the speed limit Nannies may get more play than the obvious conclusion that speed limits as posted/enforced are a joke.
Fascinating quote - may have to pick up that copy of Rand at long last.
An angry, frustrated driver at 55 is more dangerous than a happy, relaxed driver at 75.
I live in West by God Virginia so we don't have too many problems but I have heard of the practice you describe used regularly by cops in Southern California in an attempt to create buffer zones in order to prevent gridlock. I have no idea if it works but there you go.
On any major freeway in California, that stunt would have definitely gotten you a ticket for impeding traffic.
Why would Canadians visit the American South and leave their beloved socialized medicine behind? /sarcasm
I don't agree with Larry King on too many things (like most Freepers) but he once suggested that every American obey the law to the last letter and punctuation mark just for one day - the resulting hole in the flow of funds to government(s) would be shocking.
I believe you to be mistaken.
I'm not getting up earlier. Too many hours of my day are already accounted for. I get a minimum amount of sleep as is. If you must drive slower, then stay off the Interstate. Otherwise, you're creating a problem, because the vast majority of the people who drive on the Interstate agree with my philosophy. If you doubt it, go drive in the left lane at 55 and see what happens.
So you could theoretically be pulled over for speeding if you're moving with traffic and for impeding traffic if you go the speed limit? Is there a legal way to drive?
I live near the I10 in SoCal..in the Inland Empire...posted speed limit is 70. Most cars are doing 80-90 with big rigs doing 65-70. It's getting wild out here.
i drove a cab a few yers ago and was picking up a lady at a grocery store and saw two people get into a fistfight over the express lane cause a guy had 14 items in a 12 items or less line :-)
I'm pretty sure a jury would disagree with that. The law certainly would.
You see 75 do once you hit states like Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and most of the interior west.
Oh good grief. If you're having to brake or take evasive maneuvers, you're blind. It would be different if they were cutting people off, or slamming on their brakes. But if they are driving at a constant speed on the highway and you have to "take evasive maneuvers", you have your own personal problems.
That is true, and I am glad my home state of New York has a law against it (one of the few laws for which we deserve credit).
How does moving to the right after passing a slow moving car clog up the Road? Donut munchers? You must be from NJ?
Been trying to tell my representatives (?) this for years and get the same ol' shiess about saving gas. Notice at 75 you get better gas in a new car than 60 at the old standard?
I should have been clearer: available stopping distance will be proportional to speed minus a constant; required stopping distance is proportional to velocity squared plus a constant times velocity. So assuming vehicles enter every R seconds and are L feet long, and required stopping distance is proportional to half A times velocity squared plus T times velocity, the "excess" stopping distance will be:
RV-L - 1/2 AV^2 - TVThis establishes maximum and minimum speeds that would allow any vehicle to stop safely even if the vehicle before it were to stop instantly. In practice, vehicles generally don't stop instantly and thus it's usually possible to get away with shorter stopping distances.
-1/2 AV^2 + (R-T)V - L
I should mention, btw, the importance of leaving extra stopping distance behind vehicles that can or might stop suddenly. If one is following a passenger car ahead of which is visibly-clear road, that car isn't going to come to an instant stop and one's own vehicle won't have to. On the other hand, if one is following a semi that's too tall for an overpass, the trailer might stop extremely suddenly--to the great detriment of anyone immediately behind it.
Then you don't understand the reflexive property, it's role in math or Aristotelian logic (which brings us to another point: Ayn Rand did not come up with this gem... it comes from Aristotelian dialectical reasoning: the base of reasoning by logic---or do you think that's for dopes, too?)
A=A for example may be used as a point of departure for any logical argument, such as that what we believe to be right derives from natural law. Without such a property, you cannot argue the validity of the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. The concept that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights derives from Natural Law. If you don't accept Natural Law as the basis for a discussion on what it right and wrong, then you have no basis for discussing the legal basis of our society... and the whole thread unravels.
Ergo, the reflexive property is useful and interesting because without it we have no common basis for discussion, we can agree about nothing because we cannot agree upon a starting point, and logic and reason cease to exist. If you still believe that this property is "for dopes", I suggest reading a little more on the basis of Western Civilization and Aristotelian logic. If you *still* don't change your mind, then you must believe that logic, reason and Western Civilization are for dopes. :-)
Assume allowable braking decelleration of 0.5g (16 feet/second^2), and that "bumper to bumper" traffic would represent one vehicle every 16 feet. Reaction time is 1/2 second, and one vehicle enters a stretch of road every two seconds.
If all traffic is in one lane, the minimum and maximum safe speeds would be 16 and 32 feet/second (11 to 22mph). If the traffic is divided evenly among two lanes, the maximum and minimum safe speeds would be about 5 and 107 feet/second (3.5-73mph).
In the former case, at 32 feet/second, vehicles would be 48 feet bumper to bumper. A vehicle would travel 16 feet during the driver's reaction time, and would then take two seconds to stop. During that two seconds, it would travel an average of 16 feet/second. Total distance would be 48 feet.
In the latter case, at 107 feet/second, vehicles would be 412 feet bumper to bumper. The vehicle would travel 53.5 feet during the driver's reaction time, and then take 6.7 seconds to stop, going another 358.5 feet. Total distance would be about 412 feet.
Thus, in the presence of a 900 vehicle/hour traffic load, having everyone pull over to the right all the time would reduce the safe speed of the road from 73mph to 22mph.
The congestion is in the opposite direction's morning commute. He did a good job at getting drivers to tailgate and fume though.
You must be a city boy. You just go drive across the desert at a mile a minute. I'm the guy doing 90.
To Hell with a constitution, huh? Hope you got your asbestos handy.
I am a big fan of the passing lane. It is not practical where there are left exits, ect. I am saying that if the road is filled with people driving 55, then people wanting to drive faster are causing problems and vice versa. I think the law should change. Also, the sleep deprived are not the people I would prefer to have speeding around.
CT does, on the local blotter it's called "failure to drive right." Being new to the Least coast, I once asked an orificer if that meant failure to drive right, or failure to drive correctly. He, not surprisingly, said, "yes."