Skip to comments.Was 70 mph a bad idea?
Posted on 07/20/2011 7:47:43 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
WOODSTOCK -- The last few days have been busy for Shenandoah County emergency personnel on Interstate 81.
Or, as some people may feel, it's been like old times.
Four notable crashes in a 10-mile stretch since Thursday afternoon -- there were two that day, one on Friday and a tractor-trailer overturned Tuesday morning -- may have been the most in such a short period of time since the Virginia Department of Transportation raised the posted speed limit throughout most of the jurisdiction to 70 mph last the fall. Official crash data, though, is not yet available for the past few months, although for all of 2010, there were 29 fewer crashes in the county than a year earlier, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
The DMV does not track road-specific crash data.
However, speed is not necessarily always the culprit. On Friday and Tuesday, for example, it appeared to be driver fatigue, said Sgt. F.L. "Les" Tyler, a state police spokesman. Felton L. Joseph, 59, of Pearland, Texas, was charged with reckless driving on Tuesday after overturning his tractor-trailer hauling tea on the right shoulder at southbound mile marker 284. There were no injuries.
Based on what local officials have observed, after roughly nine months with the new speed limit, nobody appears to have found a reason yet to change their original impression on 70 mph.
"I don't think there is any good evidence that the interstate is more dangerous now than it was before or even that actual speeds have increased at all," said Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, who favored the move. "VDOT made the determination about which areas could safely support the speed limit increase, and I think we should wait and see additional data from them before we jump to any conclusions."
Shenandoah County Fire Chief Gary Yew said he has always thought the increase was a mistake. He is concerned about public safety, particularly in peak travel times, such as the current summer vacation period.
"The more serious crashes over the years, they certainly have been attributed to speed," Yew said. "I can't help but think it compounds our problems."
VDOT spokeswoman Sandy Myers said her agency is waiting to collect data for a three-year period before reviewing the effectiveness of the speed limit change. She echoes Gilbert in stating that it's too early to make any conclusions.
The data, when available, may not matter for some people. William Pence, president of Appalachian Freight Carriers in Edinburg, said 65 mph is fast enough for truckers, so the hike to 70 mph did not sit well with him. Drivers in his company, though, are directed to set their speed at 67 mph, which conserves fuel.
"And that's fast enough for trucks," Pence said.
He said too many crashes involve truck drivers speeding and following too closely, and that was before they were granted the opportunity to travel faster.
"Any rear-end collision involving our drivers," Pence said, "they're outta here."
The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing the increase last year. District 1 representative Dick Neese said his opinion hasn't changed and his concern for I-81 is so great that whenever he must make a Harrisonburg-to-Strasburg trip, he takes U.S. 11.
"I got stopped in [a crash backup] one time," Neese said. "I said there's no way I'm going to let this happen again."
Just a word of advice: Don’t cruise at 92 on I70 in Colorado.
Three of 'em.....I made the run thru the entire state just last week. Most of the western and plains states we hit allow 75, with a couple holding to 70.....I still pretty much locked in the Cruise at 82 with no problems. At that speed I get passed just enough to know there are no State Cops coming up from behind.
Still that way today.
According to VDOT, 19 to 40 percent truck traffic; designed to carry only 15 percent trucks. 35 percent of I-81 fatal accidents involved a truck. I would like to know the % of accidents overall that involve trucks. I couldn’t find the national average for truck traffic.
And no trucks allowed to pass
Makes for smooth driving.
What’s the posted speed there nowadays?
The posted speed is 70. I routinely set my speed at 78 with no problems from the troopers.
I recently completed a 4000 mile motorcycle tour. While riding I-95 from Georgia up to I-26 in South Carolina I decided to keep a tally of how many drivers I saw doing stupid stuff.
Kept count of how many out of each 10 cars I passed or who passed me. Fully 20% of drivers were doing something stupid. From texting, to makeup, to nail polish I noted just about everything anyone could do. I was amazed at the number I saw with a book or magazine on their steering wheel. Even counted two cars with people having sex!
We need to design our Interstates with lots of tight curves and such. I can say that on I-79 through West Virginia where it is particularly twisty and fun to ride that I saw lots less distracted drivers - I didn’t see anyone reading a book or having sex.
Cage drivers are just too relaxed most of the time to be safe.
***This was during the hated 55 mph days and at that time, I always did 70 mph on the open road.***
I got my first ticket barely going above speed limit through a bad section of Farmington NM.
I got my first highway speeding ticket doing 70 mph one week after the 55 mph speed law went into effect, outside Tucumcari NM on I-40.
Good to hear that. My parents are in PA, so when I’d go home or return from leave, it was 1,100 miles or so across I-70. On my return trips, I always seemed to hit KS at about 11:00 or 12:00 at night. I was a young hot-shot lieutenant and had a ‘92 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX Turbo. I’d push upwards of 90 or so if the road was wide open, and never got a ticket.
Oh, yeah!!! I like those too!
And unless you are teenage male the speed at which you choose to travel is likely to be a safe one.
A few years ago, there was a blanket 70mph pretty much over
all the rural areas of state highways. Many of those have been reduced since then to a more logical 60mph. I think due to the long time period at 55mph - many (newer) officials didn’t realize that not all highways are for 70mph.
“What a waste of time, money, and energy that was.”
Yeah, but you got to contribute some feed calories to the Judicial/LEO industrial monster.
“Even counted two cars with people having sex!”
I was nowhere near that area.
That stretch 81 between 66 and Woodstock scares the crap out of me. Granted, I only visit once a year so maybe you get used to the volume of trucks at some point. But it just seems like wall to wall trucks and two lanes in each direction is dangerous enough at 65mph.
My car is a “tool” that provides me the opportunity to move from one spot to another.
If you don’t how to use your tools correctly, please do not use them until you are competent.
I like to drive 75, with apologies to Sammy Hagar.
Yes - it should have been 80.
I remember a Keeper of the Speed doing that in Kansas. She was proudly humming along in her state owned car with a teachers union bumper sticker doing an easy 5 under next to a semi fully loaded and maxed out in speed. I geve her a courtesy blink of the lights...nothing. Another blink 2-3 minutes later. In mortal fear, she shot past the truck and I passed. As I saw her reaching for her phone to call the police on me, I slowed down so she could read my license plate. Surprise, nothing happened.
I hope you kept it down to ‘reasonable’. I once drove a 327/350hp Nova SS. It had the straight line stability of a slowing top. Also couldn’t corner worth a damn. A few years later I drove a Datsun 240Z. While not as quick in a straight line quarter mile, you could drive 100mph all afternoon feeling very secure.
Yeah, well it is downhill... ;-)
What causes unsafe conditions is vehicles driving DIFFERENT speeds. As long as everyone is driving about the same speed, traffic flows smoothly and safely. It really doesn’t matter what the speed is, so long as everybody goes about that speed. Speed limits should be set to get the maximum level of compliance and uniformity in speed.
It frustrates me to no end that Illinois specifically sets different speed limits for cars and trucks. Could there be a better formula for an unsafe roadway? Stupid.
>>There is a huge Wal-Mart distribution center right by an interchange between Harrisonburg and Stanton with its own railyard.
There was talk that some of the truck traffic would diminish once the raillink was completed. I haven’t noticed it happening. Have you? <<
Remember that if you’ve got a truck brought it. When train traffic increases so does truck traffic. When the economy slows down there’s less trucks on the highway and vice versa. WalMarts, Safeway, Foodstuff, Sears, McDonalds or your local gas station doesn’t get stocked by air freighters.
You must not have gotten the right trooper - the one who pulled us at 82 knocked it down to 79 right there 'just in case' his/our instruments were off by a tad.
You can’t courtesy flash lights anymore here in the seattle area - that’s a hate crime ;-)
>>moving more freight traffic off the highways and onto the freight railroads, I think it would be well worth the effort.<<
Do you have any idea how it get to the trains and/or from the trains? By TRUCK, not helicopter or ship or taxi.
Than I guess my headlights are full of hate. I rarely do that but it’s better than a friend of mine who once bumper tapped someone for holding up a few hundred cars.
You need to include the definition of LTL: less than truck load, weight or bulk size. West of the Mississippi river we can pull 53 foot trailers, I imagine east of the river is still stuck with 48 footers.
I promise that I have not exceeded 106 mph this week!
The convoys of trucks I see moving along the interstate for hundreds of miles - often with empty railroad tracks in parallel - are not moving freight from the trainyard to a local destination.
I have driven I-81 many times in the past, and Montana highways recently, that said, I-81 in Va and Pa scared the crap out of me because of the tractor-trailers that dominate the road. They show no mercy and band together in convoys, God help you if you get in their way. My wife and I even reported one trucker who was running people off the road, and the State patrol’s reaction was “ho hum”. Montana, on the other hand, had all these little crosses at scenes of fatal accidents, which had a sobering effect.
>>Some slow down and speed up going up and down grades, some dont.<<
If one truck is hauling a load of light bulbs he won’t vary much but if the other truck is hauling a full load of heavy product then his speed will vary. Not everyone is a successful owner operator with a large horsepower engine in the truck.
Did she have Alabama plates? Seems that every state/region has its own set of driver idiosyncrasies. Some Alabama drivers love to hog the hammer lane, slowly passing cars on their right. As soon as they finish their pass, instead of moving over, they speed up so that the line of frustrated cars behind them cannot get past. Then they slow down again when passing another car.
I always pass them vigorously using the right lane.
Now, if we talk about most of I-95 from DC north to the NYC area, then I've got too many horror stories to tell.
All the best to you!
"Over 9, pay the fine". I can't speak for all jurisdictions, but when I was a young man working in a car wash, we washed the police cars of a few nearby communities. It was routine for them to set their radar for 10 over the limit or more. Based on my driving experience, that is still generally true, though there are likely exceptions.
“A most welcome sign on the German Autobahn:”
It would have helped if you’d hinted for us non-Autobahn folks what that sign actually _means_ ... :)
I’ll take a guess. Looks like a round sign that would normally contain a number that represents a speed limit. But there is no number, and the 45-degree “slash” (usually intended to mean “no [something or other]”) is supposed to mean “no limit”?
I drive on US 183 to and from work every day. I usually drive 65 which is the posted speed and stay in the right lane the entire commute. The left lane is often running at 75 or more, and the center is at least 65 - 70. About two weeks ago, some idiot in a Ford F250 decided he had to drive faster, so he passed on the right shoulder at about 80 MPH.
“Wir fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn...”
Oh, I know. I think the truckers are way less likely to be idiots, I think the majority try to do the best they can. I do think that things like having a computer record speed that goes over a certain mandated speed perhaps causes more problems than it solves. I think the food lion trucks were mandated to not run over 61 for a minute or it would be recorded.
I tried to find the national average for truck traffic on 4 lane interstates, but my google skils are weak. 81 runs 19-40% truck traffic, according to VDOT.
If you have a load going from Miami to Montreal, it takes 26 to 28 hours by truck not the 6 to 8 days by rail. What method would you ship with. Deliver it to the railyard, load it into the rail car. Let it sit for a day or two until enough cars are hooked up for them to make a dollar going in the direction your load is going. Then change engines two or three times, breaking the train apart and reconnecting it back up to allow the cars that are changing directions to be sorted in or out. When it reaches the destination city, unload the railcar, load it into a truck for local delivery. Is that what you would call efficiency?
In 1973 took me 39 to 44 hours to drive from one coast to the other depending on my route and destination. It took a train 12 to 14 DAYS to do the same route. Which produce would you care to have on your table?
You’ve heard of Amtrak I’m sure. Well they have priority on the tracks over ALL freight shipments. Ever seen a freight train sit for four hours waiting for Amtrak to pass. Why? Because the freight train has up to 120 cars and is over a mile long, has unionized crews and paying them overtime is not the way to make money so the trains sit until they have the time and space to run without swapping crews or starting, stopping, starting, stopping, starting and stopping while they juggle track space with a bunch of tourists.
I am amazed that we even have figured out how to get a freight train from one coast to another and do it in less than two weeks AND make money doing it!
Many of the shipments to the Walmart distribution centers consist of several pallets of product, not complete trailer loads. And even if the shipment might fill a rail car, rail freight is not responsive enough to satisfy most of Walmart’s needs. So most of the freight into Walmart is handled by truck.
>>81 runs 19-40% truck traffic, according to VDOT.<<
And the truck traffic percentage varies in direction twice each week plus the day, night operators slipping in and out.
One of my neighbors works in a super large warehouse that assembles loads for all the hard goods stores, no food products. He has trains, local manufacturers and assembly plants delivering to him. They assemble the loads for WalMart, Target, Cabellas, you name it. All done by a few rows of computers and hundreds of men and women, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
You know those boxes marked DELICATE, the handling they receiver in that warehouse is anything but delicate. It’s all in knowing how to ricochet the box off the wall to fill the trailer. LOL They stuff trailers full. They know what boxes on what pallets can withstand another pallet riding on top for 200, 400 or 600 miles and which can’t. Quite the place.
I ran across a similar twit a couple of years ago on BC#3. The road is a twisty 2 lanemountain road, with passing lanes every 15 miles or so, a cliff on one side and a rock wall on the other. Going through the twisty bits, this guy would drop to 30-40 mph. Then on the long uphill passing lane sections, he’d speed up to 60-70 ish.
I was driving a little 2.9 litre v-6 “powered” pickup that was loaded, so I couldn’t get past him on the 10% of the road that was safe for passing. I eventually got angry enough with him that I passed him using the shoulder in a hairpin corner, leaning on the horn the whole way.
(I was in a bit of a hurry, since my dad had called me for help, mom was in hospital, and I was 6 hours away when the call came. They’re both fine now, btw.)
A hint for my fellow drivers: if you’re not comfortable at the speed limit on a section of road, driving slower than said limit is fine, just STAY at that speed once a passing area comes up so others can get by you!
What happens a lot is that they don’t pay attention most of the time, but when someone starts to pass they snap out of it, check their speed, and start going a more reasonable speed if they have been doodling along. Meanwhile the passing car has to speed in order to now pass them. Of course sometimes I think it is just maliciousness. The worst is someone in the passing lane who does this, but for cars passing on the right.
The interstates were designed for 75mph speeds with 50s era cars. no way is 70 or 80 dangerous on most of the Interstates. The main problem, at least out west, is that Americans refuse to use the left lane for passing only. When traffic gets a bit heavy the arrogant @sses remain in the passing lane doing under 65 like they are self appointed traffic wardens or something.
>>I remember a Keeper of the Speed doing that in Kansas. She was proudly humming along in her state owned car with a teachers union bumper sticker doing an easy 5 under next to a semi fully loaded and maxed out in speed. I geve her a courtesy blink of the lights...nothing. Another blink 2-3 minutes later. In mortal fear, she shot past the truck and I passed. As I saw her reaching for her phone to call the police on me, I slowed down so she could read my license plate. Surprise, nothing happened.<<
Blink your lights and reach for YOUR phone.