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.'"
Of course both of you are right in that there are traffic laws against impeding the flow of traffic. I happened to be taking a Freerepublibreak from studying a particularly challenging theory of electrodynamics when I read Star Traveler's following comment:
"If the flow of traffic is faster than you are driving, regardless of whether or not you are driving the speed limit, then you are impeding traffic."
So in a wry moment of inside joking where I was the only one privy to my (lack of) humor, I read the statement as a general physical law (it kind of has that form). The word 'regardless' made me think of someone driving 170 mph with another guy driving 190 zooming up on his bumper. The 170 mph guy might get a ticket, but I meant I doubted he was breaking any law of "impeding traffic", thereby violating Star Traveler's law of traffic. Yes, that is all extremely nerdy.
We lost the war once by being slow. Not gonna do it again. ;-)
But we lost that war, unfortunately. More to the point, I don't particularly care for the constitution as a defense of anything. I do believe in the right to bear arms, but only for the many good reasons that we should have such a right (and the right to speech, privacy, etc).
That some government document coincidentally agrees with God's gift of freewill shouldn't mean anything.
As long as we are tying this in with Ayn Rand for some reason, the same should be asked of her "A is A" obsession: Why is the obvious treated as genius? Why is the Constitution so worshiped, given its highly redundant declaration that "We may talk..." (Gee thanks, Maaaay I???)
Nonsense. It should have its sirens and lights on, which should compel all intervening vehicles to yield. When the EMT was behind the "pace cars" then they would be obliged to move to the right as well and no doubt would have. But if you need an excuse to be angry, I guess any one will do.
Nice try, moron. Back to the minors at DU for more seasoning.
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.
Your given assumptions are flawed. You wouldn't need to slow down again after you passed a slower moving car. You would simply move over in front of him to fill the gap he caused by driving slowly. You would then continue on and outdistance him at a normal rate of speed.
Same goes for Houston. I evacuated their a few hurricanes ago. Even though I have family there, I hope I never, ever go back!
NOT breakin' the law, NOT breakin' the law [insert Judas Priest riff here]
I was stuck in a pack of people on I-75 behind a couple of FHP cars doing this. It just shows how absurd the !@#$@!%$@ speed limits are in the first place. The sad thing is that nobody seems to care. I hope this film is enough to jog the heads of some folks in the U.S. I doubt it.
The politicians prolly told him if the Highway Patrol kept that stuff up he'd make clear that the beltway boys were doing exactly what Rand says implementing the double-nickel in the first place. Can't have that, not with control at stake.
"Which section of the Constitution authorizes the federal government to set speed limits?"
The same section that allowed the feds to build highways and impose gas taxes for their construction and maintenance, I'm sure.
I don't know about any other states, but Maine has such a law as does Illinois.
"If you *still* don't change your mind, then you must believe that logic, reason and Western Civilization are for dopes."
I don't think that will be compelling argument to many folks on FR, who think that logic and reason are what politicians do every day, i.e., state talking points, insult the other party, impugn the motives of the other party, bring up irrelevant conflicts of the other party, repeat talking points, etc. This is the political dialogue that currently exists, and what many have subsequently confused with logical argument, since they've heard that it is 'argument' between the two parties. I sometimes wish that just one candidate would explain basic logic to his crowd before speaking. Just seeing a single one say that because we know A->B does not mean B->A or -A->-B, and give an example, would warm my heart.
IL actually has made it a law that the left lane is the passing lane. I think it just went into effect Jan 1.
Last fall I fell from my treestand while deerhunting and hung upside down for 9 days. Odin arrived and told me that the rate should be 12 spear throws per mug of mead.
Ive spent the last several months testing to come up with a MPH rating.
If my car can be pulled out of the ravine again to finish testing or if this hangover ever clears up to try to decipher my notes then Ill get back to you...
There should be NO set speed limit at all, which used to be true in some states before the Fed. blackmailed the free states into compliance with their demands.
Basic Speed Law, do not drive faster than the conditions will safely allow.
Crowded road = slow down.
Bad weather = slow down.
Crap car = slow down.
Open road, good weather, good car = GO FOR IT!
The lower limits are for revenue, nothing more.
If speed really killed airlines would only do 55 MPH, not 550 MPH!
There should be no national speed limit.
All we need is some bunch of slick politicians or bureaucrats 2000 miles from here telling us how fast we can or cannot drive in rural North Dakota. NO thank you.
Besides, in Wyoming, the death rate went UP when the 55 mph limit was passed. People accustomed to making a 600 mile trip in 8 hours were taking over 12 at the new limit, and falling asleep at the wheel.
That's been explained ad nauseum in Texas: That does not apply to vehicles already doing the maximum speed allowable by law. You cannot ever get a ticket for impeding traffic if you're doing the maximum legal speed.
Simple: point out how bad it is to go faster than 55 mph--(oh the carnage)--force all the speed limits to 55 or less. This will slow down truckers, cut their pay, and slow down truck carriers who move a very large share of food, fuel, mail, etc.
Ask any trucker. Slow down here, slow down there. Soon Atlas will Shrug.
1. Deliberately creating a situation where more than five cars are closely following you--a major no-no!
2. Side-by-side driving is a MAJOR no-no in California, even more so than tailgating!
The only way to get back into the right hand lane would be to reduce speed to match the traffic in that lane. And if most of the people are in the right hand lane it will have to be moving pretty slowly. The way to get maximal throughput is to have traffic roughly balanced between the two lanes.
The car in the right lane in front of you is traveling
at forty-five MPH. There is no one in front of him
because he has been traveling at that rate of speed
since Toledo. You see a break in the left lane
and pull around him. You then get by him, pull
back in front of him, and accelerate to sixty MPH.
If the slow car had been keeping up with the flow-
of-traffic there would have been no reason to go
around him. That's how it works on I-285 - drive
fast and stay alive.
Because the law in question is effectively a tax. Motorists either have to pay a time tax in the form of time wasted on the roads, or else a monetary tax if they get caught trying to avoid the former.
Further, depending upon the assumptions one makes regarding reaction times, braking effectiveness, and stopping scenarios, there are some traffic conditions where lower speed limits can increase the likelihood of accidents by causing vehicles to be spaced closer together than they would be at higher speeds.
BTW, posted speed limits are generally safe to drive under mildly-unfavorable conditions. In most places, under favorable conditions, a competant driver could safely travel much faster. While it is certainly useful to have signage advising drivers of the relative safe speeds of various roads, there is no reason why a road which can be safely travelled at 55mph during moderate rainfall could not be safely travelled on a clear day at a faster speed.
I drive the speed limit. And I rarely find myself caught in a pressure wave. No traffic to the front, left, or rear. I'm safe as houses and, to date, have never been in an accident. I'll continue to drive the speed limit :)
You've got to be kidding. In far West Texas it's 75, and it could easily be 80, which everyone drives anyway. The biggest danger on West Texas highways is falling asleep, and at least at 80 one isn't on the road as long.
Well there is a little loophole in the Georgia traffic code which states you cannot get a ticket for speeding if you are going at the same speed as everyone else.
In other words, it everyone around you is driving at around 80 mph, so can you without getting a ticket.
And in Atlanta, they do drive that fast on the interstate.
Awesome. I'm glad they did it and didn't get killed. The 55 laws are designed for revenue enhancement and insurance company enrichment.
Can you cite that law? I can't find it, and I've certainly tried - could have saved on my "tax" bill in years past.
I am talking about the traffic code, not tax law.
It's a euphemism - one is "taxed" for driving at a reasonable and prudent speed, if that speed is greater than the number on a sign.
Like I said, I can't find anything in O.C.G.A. saying what you said. Can you point me to the right place? Thanks.
If the state forces someone to drive 55mph on an 75-mile stretch of road where 75 would have been a prudent and safe speed, the state in so doing will deprive that person of 22 minutes of his life that he could have used to do something else.
The loss of 22 minutes isn't a fine, and it's not just a consequence imposed by physical necessity (if the prudent and safe speed was 75mph, the extra ten minutes required to go 75 instead of 90 would be imposed by physical constraints; the extra 22 minutes required to go 55, by contrast, are state-imposed).
So what would you call the state's actions to deliberately deprive the driver of 22 minutes of his life, if not a "time tax"?
Well, oftentimes with traffic lights, the most important "law" is that entering an spot on an intersection that another vehicle has just entered or is about to enter will result in some problems as two vehicles can't inhabit the same point at the same time. Since traffic lights serve as something of an indicator as to what other vehicles are likely to do, they help to avoid such unpleasantness.
The annoying "red left turn arrows" that illuminate even when there's no other traffic around I obey purely for fear of being observed by a cop. I've often seen cops proceed through them without bothering with lights, but that doesn't mean I want to do so and risk getting caught.
In the 2005 Driver's manual .pdf file, page 53: In any case, you must not dirve slower than the minimum speed limit or so slow as to interfere with the normal flow of traffic.
Note, it does not say maximum speed limit, but instead states the "normal flow of traffic".
These kids are 100% right.
No one wants anyone to drive the legal limit. It is a fiction put out there to appease the Envirowhackos.
OK, I am sure that is arithmetically accurate and I see pi there, but the meaning?...
ps: thanks for posting the link
Me too! And all I want to know is where the proverbial 'road rager' was when the traffic behind these little pricks of academia needed him!
True. I know a lot of people who would have been tempted.
In many cases, traffic engineers have designed the roads to be safely navigable at 75mph during good weather. But the state can get much more revenue if it can fine/tax people who want to actually go that fast.
What cracks me up are the arguments among the autobahn-advocates trying to argue that their system is safer. The fatality rate among crash victims in Germany is actually much higher than the U.S. and just ask them about the kinds of traffic tie ups their high speed accidents cause. You'd be losing a hell of a lot more than 22 minutes of your life there.
Autobahn speeds are often over 100mph, are they not? Indeed, from what I understand, on the autobahn many drivers routinely go faster than some vehicles are capable of safely going, creating significant speed differentials.
One principle that can be formulated various ways, but should generally apply to traffic rulemaking is this: Most people are reasonable and prudent. If most people on a stretch of road are doing something, that's a pretty good prima facie indicator that such an activity is reasonably safe. Obviously there are exceptions, but it's generally true.
Note that people's actions in the absense of a particular law may be a barometer for what's considered safe, but the presence of a law or perceived ruthless enforcement thereof may alter people's behavior in a manner not required for safety.
1 Cubit = 18 inches.
One handsbreadth = 4 inches.
Pro 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
Not sure exactly. It suggests that 172 degrees is very nearly 3 radians, or that pi is very neary 135/43. Nice small fraction, but not sure what obscuring it with bigger numbers is good for.
Personally, I like an observation by Tom Duff (creator of Duff's Device): "Pi seconds is a nanocentury." Actually, it's 0.995531902 nanocenturies, but still pretty close.