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How fast is too fast?
Washington Times ^ | Friday, July 5, 2002 | Eric Peters

Posted on 07/04/2002 10:53:25 PM PDT by JohnHuang2

Edited on 07/12/2004 3:55:10 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Reasonable speed limits are in everyone's best interests. The question is, how do we agree on what speeds are "reasonable"?

By observing traffic flow on any given stretch of road, traffic safety engineers can arrive at a scientifically objective speed limit that corresponds to the rate of travel the majority of drivers naturally gravitate toward. This so-called "85th percentile" speed is based on the altogether sound idea that most drivers are neither reckless nor suicidal and usually drive within safe limits.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: driving; speed; speedlimits
Friday, July 5, 2002

Quote of the Day by usconservative

1 posted on 07/04/2002 10:53:25 PM PDT by JohnHuang2
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To: JohnHuang2
This author seems to believe "speed limits" were and are somehow intended to make motor travel safer.

This is a fallacy. I won't flat-out tell you what "speed limits" are, but I'll give you a hint: Starts with a "t" and ends with "ax".

2 posted on 07/04/2002 11:19:41 PM PDT by Jonathon Spectre
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To: Jonathon Spectre
Thye author makes sense!

Germany, for example, sets speed limits only in areas that actually need a limit because of conditions. They also have the three lanes of major autobahns clearly marked with speed MINIMUMS (right lane is 60 kpg, middle is 90 and laft lane is 100 kph MINIMUM!

Germany also has stringent requirements for drivers' licenses adn vehicle registration (you learn the road rules and demonstrate competetnce behind the wheel) and you'll not see any beat up, smoking, broken glass (or plastic taped in place of glass), no lights, bald tire rust heaps there...they haul them off the road! Insurance is mandatory...or jail time results!

Overall, this nation needs to look at speed limits, vehicle registrations, and insurance. It has become a joke in this country!

3 posted on 07/05/2002 12:01:02 AM PDT by NMFXSTC
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Do we really need to care what Germany does?
4 posted on 07/05/2002 12:08:50 AM PDT by FreedomFriend
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I've driven plenty in Germany on the autobahn. You see two situations. Fast cars with not a scratch and accidents where all involved are dead with totally destroyed vehicles. I have yet to see an in between case. The damned big trucks make travel a chore. Fortunately, there are "no truck" days during the week.

The Germans are so hung up on finally earning a driver's license that you will find cards celebrating the acquistion of the "Fuehrerschein" at most card shops. Frankly, I think they all drive like teenagers with hot Corvette. I'm thankful to be finished with my contract work there. It was an interesting experience.

5 posted on 07/05/2002 12:09:35 AM PDT by Myrddin
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To: JohnHuang2
I've driven the I-15 from San Diego, CA to Pocatello, ID about 20 times over the last year. The top posted speed limit is 75 MPH from North Las Vegas to exit 260 south of Provo, UT. The only slowdown is the segment from Littlefield, AZ to St. George, UT where the winding Virgin River Gorge makes slowing down necessary for safety. In all those trips, I've seen few drivers anxious to exceed the 75 MPH posted limit. There is a construction area immediately north of Beaver, UT where the speed is limited to 60 MPH for a 3 mile stretch because of construction equipment. Be advised that 18 wheel trucks maintain a 75-80 MPH speed in Utah and Nevada. There is no lower speed limit assigned to big trucks in those states as one finds in California and Idaho.

The San Diego area has max posted speeds of 65 MPH on I-5 and I-805. It is rare to see people drive under 70 MPH when the traffic flow will allow it. CHP simply doesn't have the manpower to ticket everyone violating the law. If you actually try to OBEY the speed limit, you may get a citation for dangerously impeding traffic flow.

6 posted on 07/05/2002 12:20:48 AM PDT by Myrddin
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To: Myrddin
Welcome to California!

Now keep to the slow lane. :)

7 posted on 07/05/2002 12:24:57 AM PDT by The KG9 Kid
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To: FreedomFriend
Yeah, FreedomFriend, we do (or should).

The Germans have far better engineered roads, cars, and conditions.

We fail to enforce insurance laws ("gee, I can't afford insurance, but I need and "deserve" a car"). OUr DWI rates are hugely more than the Europeans'.

Stop by any metro court and watch the "no insurance, noe registration, speeding" the majority of cases, judges simpy ask (yeah, "ask") the defendent to return within a 30 day period and show insurance and problem? My mother was KIA by a driver in an uninsured and unregistered vehicle. I got a "sorry" from the courts and a "no way" from attorneys I contacted to see if we had a case (and the driver was 84 years old and had just renewed his license for an eight year period?)

Yeah...maybe we can learn a bit from these Germans.
8 posted on 07/05/2002 12:30:13 AM PDT by NMFXSTC
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To: Myrddin
I agree here, Myrddin...partially. I wouldn'y say they are "hung up" on getting a DL, but they do pay, on average, in excess of 2 grand to farchule and pay insurance, maintain vehicles very well, etc.

The autobahn can be frightening (I lived in FRG for 9 years), but it is predictible! That driver in the left lane IS gonna overtake you and get back in line in a hurry so that other guy coming up can overtake you both! And the signal! Imagine that? Actually using turn signals and passing lights!

The trucks can be a pain, but...they do have restrictive days and times.

Yep...I fel mucho safer on the 'bahn than on the interstates.
9 posted on 07/05/2002 12:34:59 AM PDT by NMFXSTC
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To: Myrddin
I just got back from Germany where in one leg I made it from Bonn to Kiel (345 miles) in under 4 hours. In a Volvo Cross Country. The only bad drivers I saw on the road were Brits and Nederlanders.

I thought the locals did an admirable job of driving fast but safely.

Maybe you were in East Germany where the ex-East Germans still drive their Trabants and pull out in front of you at 39 mph when you are closing 100 mph more! I wish Americans were as courtious as the German drivers!

10 posted on 07/05/2002 12:36:52 AM PDT by Bartholomew Roberts
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To: madfly; Free the USA
11 posted on 07/05/2002 12:37:17 AM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP
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To: Bartholomew Roberts
Yup...and I did 16 countries and logged more than 90K miles on an ;84 Harley during my stint...never felt suseptable at all...but on our interstates? ya never know what's next on the road...road kill, an "alligator" from a big rig, a hubcap, oil bottle, lumber, or WTF...once I came upon a damned driveshaft!

The Germans keep those roads clear of debris for that reason...speeds that are reasonable. Here, we just plod along complaining that the truck rubber, the plastic trash and bottles littering the roads are "bad"...

Gimme a Beemer or Audi and a strech of authobahn or primary route any day!
12 posted on 07/05/2002 12:46:12 AM PDT by NMFXSTC
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84 Harley

Anybody out there ever buy a bike from Berlin's "unofficial" Harley dealer back in the late 70's? I helped a buddy of mine pick up old choppers in the States and ship them over there to be sold with California registrations. Customized bikes are verboten in Deutschland, but the Polizei didn't know what to make of the foreign regs, so they didn't do anything with them. The bikes were very popular with the local pimps and a huge profit was made on them. (If anybody asks, I made this up!)

13 posted on 07/05/2002 1:24:26 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler
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To: Bartholomew Roberts
My major autobahn venture was on a trip from Mons, Belgium to Landstuhl, Germany. I spent a week working at Ramstein and staying at a very nice hotel near Kaiserslautern. It was an all day trip with the autobahn segment falling after dark with a raging rain storm and big trucks.

Subsequent experiences were around Frankfurt am Main. That is where I sensed the reckless teenager behavior on the city streets.

The standard European road etiquette of driving in the slow lane and only hopping one lane left to pass is something American drivers don't appreciate. It is a necessary survival skill on the continent. When you visit the U.K., you have to remember the right lane is the FAST lane. You hang out in the left lane on the M roads unless you need to pass.

14 posted on 07/05/2002 2:18:08 AM PDT by Myrddin
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To: Bartholomew Roberts
One of my co-workers decided to show off when we were working at SHAPE one summer. We took a trip to Brussels for dinner and a movie. He returned us to Mons in 15 minutes flat in a Volvo 470. The speedometer was pegged at 220 KM/h. The guy races cars at home in the U.S. and outfitted the car with Z rated tires so he could "play around" on the European roads.
15 posted on 07/05/2002 2:22:17 AM PDT by Myrddin
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To: JohnHuang2
Good article. We recently traveled to Pa. and kept the cruise control at 73mph. Were passed by many even at that. Only problem I had was someone passing me and swerving infront of me and slowing down to avoid a speed trap. 75 is a perfect speed for the interstates.
16 posted on 07/05/2002 2:35:18 AM PDT by KeyWest
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To: JohnHuang2
I drive about 8 mph over the posted speed limit on interstate highways. I've passed by many radar sites and have never gotten a ticket.
17 posted on 07/05/2002 2:44:39 AM PDT by RightWinger
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To: JohnHuang2; NMFXSTC; Myrddin
I lived in Germany for many a year. My apartment was in a city called Erlangen- near Nuernberg and the post where I was stationed was in Schweinfurt- 100 km (60 miles) away. I drove back and forth every day (weekends excepted) and had a choice of two routes- up the A3 or up the A73/A70. This totalled 1,000 kilometers weekly or around the Earth more than once each year. (in case anybody's curious- Subaru Justy- not a speedy car- just reliable). I also took many, many trips to other places and countries and have been on most of the major Autobahns that Germany has to offer. You want the best one to drive on?- The stretch of A3 between Nuernburg and Munich- 3 lanes no speed limit and a sheer pleasure to drive.

Anyway, from my personal experience, this article is dead on the money. Most people, I found, seemed to be comfortable driving between 120 and 140 km/h (approx. 70 to 85 mph). Me and my Justy, we did 120 and used 130 for overtaking to maximize the fuel economy versus time spent travelling. My 60 mile one way trip took one hour on average (this is, of course the little roads before and after the Autobahn figured in too). Of course there were people who drove faster- and not just faster but dramatically faster. Mostly BMWs, some jealous Audis, the occasional Porsche- that sort of thing.

But by and large, most people tended to stay within that range I've just described. I never once saw an accident, although I was in quite a few Staus (traffic jams) which were caused by a few. Most of the Staus I ran into were caused by construction (which the Germans are always doing to the Autobahn). As a child and adult in America I witnessed more traffic accidents, some with fatalities than I can count. I don't have any hard facts or statistics, just my personal observations and they back up what the article says.

I think a higher speed limit would be a good thing and also I didn't find the Germans to be unsafe drivers- actually, to the contrary. They took the rules of the road seriously- especially the left lane for passing only rule. I mean Germans take rules seriously as a general rule period- traffic laws especially. I'd like to see some statistics comparing German versus American traffic fatalities but I would be surprised if Germany had more statistically than the USA (even adjusted for population).

18 posted on 07/05/2002 3:51:11 AM PDT by Prodigal Son
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To: Myrddin
Subsequent experiences were around Frankfurt am Main.

Also, I'll grant you that. I never like driving to the airport. Around Cologne isn't too nice either. The one Autobahn I found to be the most similar to an American interstate was the A6 which runs East- West from Nuernberg to France. For some reason, driving this one always reminded me of I-75 down to Florida ;-)

19 posted on 07/05/2002 3:54:20 AM PDT by Prodigal Son
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To: JohnHuang2
so if the cars of the 1950s were deemed safe to operate at 75-80 mph

I was there, believe me, they weren't. Every other part of the article I basically agree with. My own view is that on a typical three-lane highway, the speed limit in the right lane should be 60, and then 65 and 75 in the center and left lanes.

20 posted on 07/05/2002 4:03:29 AM PDT by medved
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To: JohnHuang2
If the majority – indeed, the overwhelming majority – of American motorists are driving faster than the posted limit, the limit is clearly too low. Something is amiss when the majority of drivers on any given road at any given time are technically guilty of "speeding." We're either a nation of maniacs who love to defy death – or we're simply guilty of paying no mind to legal technicalities erected by greedy politicians to help them rob us blind.

With more people opting to drive rather than fly, raising the speed limit may become necessary. Raising the speed limit will then make driving competitive with the shorter commuter flights.

Yesterday, while returning from Texas to SC, I noticed most people were driving 80 mph. The highway patrols were out in force, but were not pulling a lot over.

21 posted on 07/05/2002 4:32:05 AM PDT by CWRWinger
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To: JohnHuang2
This so-called "85th percentile" speed is based on the altogether sound idea that most drivers are neither reckless nor suicidal – and usually drive within safe limits.

Since reading about setting the original Interstate speed limits at the 85 percentile several years ago in the WSJ, I began to think the 85 %ile and other super-majorities would very comforting alternatives to simple majorities for many of the activities of government. For example, how about an 85% majority to increase taxes? Or to pass major new legislation. Hillary Care would never have stood a chance (not that it passed anyway, but there were some tense moments) of getting a super majority.

Super majorities would provide additional checks on power. Currently, special interest lobbyists, needing only a simple majority need only to lobby for a few votes to add to those honestly in favor and those corruptly bought, to pass bills not favored by the citizenry. Just this week, the citizens of Tennessee fought heroically to thwart yet another push for a state income tax opposed by the citizens but favored by those with power and those who expected to benefit.

Simple majority democracy favors minorities seeking benefits over majorities who will pay for them. Benefit recipients, both direct and indirect, stand to gain proportionally more than those who must pay stand to lose. Ergo, they expend more effort attempting to enact and expand the benefit. The pressure is to grow government.

Super majorities in the legislatures would ensure that significant change has broad support. Simple majorities can, and often do, produce divisive laws that increase the level of hostility in society and serve to divide, rather than unite. Here in Connecticut, we "enjoy" a state income tax that passed by a single vote. It divided the state. Its main proponent, Lowell Weiker, Jr. refused to face an enraged electorate and high-tailed it out of the state when his term was up.

Super majority rule would have saved our country from the uselessness and corruption of the Departments of Energy and Education. For those who think this would mean the end of government actions, I point to President Bush who proposed the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of September 11. Does anyone think a super majority will not be found for this?

22 posted on 07/05/2002 5:19:42 AM PDT by laredo44
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To: JohnHuang2
80 mph? What do we do with the people who can't drive? I like it the way it is.....speed limit of 60 ----it's easier for me to pass everybody.
23 posted on 07/05/2002 5:22:39 AM PDT by The Raven
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To: JohnHuang2
Moreover, people who still insist upon driving 55 or 60-mph in the far left lane

Ahh yes, the Minnesota Flying Wedge! Who else has had the pleasure of tailing the bozo for 15 miles on an Interstate because he just knows he can pass that other car when they both have their cruise control set at five miles below the posted speed limit?

Around Minneapolis and St. Paul (Heck, most of Minnesota and parts of Iowa), I found that it is quicker and less congested in the far-right lane.

Hmmm, that was about the time I found out I really was a Republican.

24 posted on 07/05/2002 5:24:42 AM PDT by woofer
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To: JohnHuang2
Cool! Didn't know I had QOTD! Next time flag me will ya?

Far as speed limits go, I have two thoughts on them.

First, we need them as a matter of public safety. Along with MAXIMUM speed limits, we should have MINIMUM speed limits and they should be strictly enforced too! Anyone driving 40 on the highway should be ticketed and REMOVED from the road, period.

Second, Our speed limits are TOO LOW. Our roads were built to handle 70+ and cars today are MUCH SAFER than they were in the 60's and 70's where the school of thought was "bigger, heavier, more rigid" bodies that didn't absorb impacts. We could easily have speed limits of 75+ on highways outside of metropolitan areas. Just my opinion though.

25 posted on 07/05/2002 5:31:42 AM PDT by usconservative
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To: JohnHuang2
299,792,458 meters/second. It's not just a good idea, it's the law.
26 posted on 07/05/2002 5:53:47 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
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To: Myrddin
Germans actually drive mellower after a couple drinks. When sober they are effing nuts. But there is one thing you should know: German and Austrian police DISPLAY the wrecks in front of police stations, as a warning. So the deadly wreck image is really at least as much the result of an official propaganda policy as it is anything else.
27 posted on 07/05/2002 6:16:02 AM PDT by eno_
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To: JohnHuang2
...and by cars passing "left lane hogs" occupying the far-left (passing) lane who refuse to yield to faster-moving traffic.

These folks are democrats by and large -- they naturally gravitate to the left and want to hold other folks back.

28 posted on 07/05/2002 6:16:31 AM PDT by Junior
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The problem with American drivers is they think of driving as a right and not a privilege that bears responsibilities. Here, anybody with a beat up Chevette or some land barge from the '60s thinks that they can drive anywhere at any speed, whether it be too fast or too slow. Ideally, a drivers license should be something that is awarded to those who have proven that they are capable drivers (and not just with a short test and a trip around the block)and they have a car that is safe. Allowing unsafe drivers in unsafe cars on the roads can get a lot of people killed.
29 posted on 07/05/2002 6:52:27 AM PDT by yawningotter
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To: Libertarianize the GOP
thanks for the ping
30 posted on 07/05/2002 9:55:12 AM PDT by Free the USA
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To: Free the USA
31 posted on 07/05/2002 5:25:06 PM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP
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To: laredo44
You're ABSOLUTELY Correct;--The "Trick" is to delineate when your "Super Majority" will fail us ( I Believe our Constitution addresses that Problem), so we Don't "Trample" our Fellow Citizens!


32 posted on 07/05/2002 6:20:58 PM PDT by Doc On The Bay
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To: Junior
These folks are democrats by and large -- they naturally gravitate to the left and want to hold other folks back.

LOL, that's funny! I'll have to remember that one.

33 posted on 07/06/2002 1:31:56 AM PDT by Prodigal Son
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