Wednesday, December 5th, 2007
Speed Limits Kill

I enjoy driving on the open highway. Warm air blowing over your well tanned arm as you cruise down an open road at 125Km/h is a great feeling. Or hauling ass on a flat straight country road, down a 3 lane highway, or an urban superhighway. All in all driving with confidence at speed is a great feeling.
I’ve long argued that the faster drivers are no more, and probably less, dangerous than the assholes who go 5 under the speed limit in the middle lane, and choose to pass at exactly 2 km/h faster than the car they are passing. I’ve also argued that speed limits are arbitrary and harmful. Harmful because they eat your life one hour at a time.
And hey, turns out I’m right. in 1995 the U.S. ended their idiotic 55Mph maximum, and traffic deaths dropped to record lows. In fact the lowest death rates are when their are no speed limits at all. on top of that a U.S. National Research Council panel pegged the cost of the 55-mph limit at about one billion person-hours per year.
That’s about 1500 entire lives eaten up sitting in the car per year!

  1. Ninja Man: With Ninja Powers!
    10:37 pm on December 5th, 2007 1

    I too share your “speed don’t kill, morons do” perspective. I’ve always figured driver distraction or poor temoral-spatial judgement was more to blame than speed (although I assume when you’re up around light-speed things like traction, stability and reaction/response time do undoubtedly come into play).

    What are the possible outcomes of raising or removing speed limits in regard to traffic deaths?

    1. They could go up
    2. They could go down
    3. They could remain unchanged.

    The study claims deaths go down. Which means that speed is a factor in traffic deaths (otherwise we’d expect no change at all).

    So it would seem that allowing people to drive faster by raising or removing speed limits saves lives. Does it? Why?

    First of all, we’d have to consider what speeed people are actually driving at. Does raising limits encourage more people to drive faster as a result? Will speeders simply “up the ante”?

    Let’s assume that in general, people as a whole will drive faster. Some people of course, will continue to drive “under the limit” due to personal pyschology, confidence and ability; but perhaps we can assume they’ll drive a little faster as well. However, it would make sense that the “speed difference ratio” between fast and slow drivers wouldn’t change too much as a result.

    Perhaps we need to consider the relation between fast and slow cars. Could it be that slow people “cause” accidents simply because they get in the way of fast people? Perhaps, but if that’s the case one could still argue speeding is the problem.

    Maybe the key has nothing to do with speed at all. What if simply raising or removing the limit is enough to reduce traffic deaths? How could this be?

    Perhaps in the absence of a speed limit, drivers will be more likely to “herd” in an “organic” manner. Flows of fast and slow traffic will tend toward moving together. So, perhaps there is an improvisational and emergment speed of traffic that result from the interaction of cars on the road.

    In such a case, people would be less worried about loooking at their speedometers, and more time watching the traffic around them?


  2. The Runs
    2:16 pm on December 6th, 2007 2

    I agree that speed limits factor into traffic accidents, but I completely disagree that they cause them. Bad, impatient and distracted drivers, along with random events cause accidents. Any attempt to blame it on speed limits is complete and utter horse shit. If everyone drove predicatbly, and at the same speed, a lot of accidents could be eliminated. You can remove the speed limit, but if people still drive 100km/h in the fast lane, you have not made the situation any better, because someone else going much faster will still end up passing in the slow lane rather then slowing to the other’s speed. This is the kind of thing that causes accidents.

  3. Brother Greg
    4:42 pm on December 6th, 2007 3

    I agree that it’s not going to be slow people causing accidents, but more the differences that arise when some people are going 130 and some are going 95.
    I know that I feel a lot safer on the 401 than the QEW, probably because everyone is going at a similar speed.

Leave a Reply