20 September 2011

Remember this is for your safety

Probably a good idea to reach for your wallet when this phrase appears.

For example. Traffic laws often bear no resemblance to actual road safety needs. They do look a lot more like taxation for operating a car at a reasonable speed instead. My own state is routinely among the worst states for issuing traffic tickets (that is: that it writes a ton of them). Part of this is that we have a lot of people driving through to get to other states. Some of which have higher highway speed limits (Michigan, Pennsylvania). But a large portion is that the limits are deliberately too low in many places. Downtown areas especially routinely see limits of 50 or 55. The average speed is probably 65-70. Average speed is generally whatever people feel safe driving at, and in most cases, is about what the road will safely allow. There are plenty of side roads with limits around 35-40 that that's pretty much what people drive on them. Simply because it doesn't feel like it is safer to go much faster than that. But a relatively straight limited access road, even with lots of traffic, is perfectly safe. If there is too much traffic, well you just don't move at all anyway and the speed limits become moot. If there's just enough though, it's going to go whatever speed is deemed appropriate by drivers.

And so it's not surprising that when there's a lot of accidents on a road that has a speed limit well out of proportion to the average speed. The traffic law doesn't make you any safer, in fact it makes you worse off than before. Because now you're at a higher risk of accidents AND you can be fined for what in effect is driver safety (driving at volume of traffic speeds). Similar effects happen with red light cameras. They can (but not always) reduce deadly t-bone accidents. As a cost, they amplify greatly the rear-endings and fender benders that can cause some minor injuries and damage. And sometimes the local city decides to fiddle with the light timing settings to get some extra revenues. At the cost of even more accidents.
Post a Comment