Dependable Erection

Monday, May 14, 2007


The N&O has started publishing its four part series on speeding on the Triangle's highways and byways. It got quite a bit of real estate in yesterday's dead tree edition, at least 4 pages in the main section and a couple in the supplementals, as i recall.

I'm going to withold judgement until i get a chance to read the entire piece, which will conclude in next Sunday's big paper. So far, they seem to be concentrating on lax enforcement and a court system which doesn't take speeding seriously, especially those who are caught doing 90+ on our superhighways. Seems like as long as you don't actually kill someone, well, no harm, no foul.

Reader comments show the typical mentality of drivers, as Jim Wooten of Angier demonstrates:
As an NC native who has been driving for 33 years now and speeding for most of that time, I can tell you that speeding doesn't make you a bad driver. I have driven to California and back 4 times, out to Denver twice, up to New York innumerable times, down to Florida a bunch, and currently do a daily 88 mile round trip hike from Angier to RTP. I can pretty much guarantee that speeding was involved in all of those trips and in my current commute. But in all the miles I have racked up, I have touched another car once . . .

It's the casual, "I do it, and i've never had a problem" mentality, writ large and clear, which is at the root of our willingness to accept "accidental" death and injury on our roadways. Collisions on the highway or the local street rarely have accidental causes. And while i accept (and, if the N&O runs my quote, i'll be published saying) that going ten or fifteen mph over the limit on a freeway is generally not a safety problem, the comfort level with someone doing 80 in a 65 leads to someone doing 90 in a 55, and allows that person to ride up another driver's tail who is only going 65, or to change lanes recklessly, possibly causing other vehicles to collide.

So let's see where the N&O ends up with its piece. Hopefully, they'll touch on all three components of excessive speeding: poor road design which encourages unsafe speeds, lax law enforcement, and a culture which privileges drivers above pedestrians, bicyclists, and other users of our public facilities.



  • Barry

    Thanks for touching on roadway design - I'm hoping that the N&O piece will go there as well, but I'm not hopeful. We are stuck in a rather perverse logical fault loop, designing roads for high speeds and wide margins for error, and expecting a sign with a speed limit lower than the intuitive design configuration to slow people down.


    By Blogger Gary, at 11:05 AM  

  • It is far less-PC, but not too different, to claim that one can drive safely with a BAC of .08. I'm sure lots of people do it, but it doesn't make it legal or right.

    As for speeding, I personally think it's terrible to have legal speed limits of 70 MPH anywhere. Besides causing a hit on our energy supply, it reinforces the idea that it's okay to drive 75 or 80 on the interstate, so when there's a reduction to 55 of 65 MPH, drivers feel more at ease making a judgment call and going 75 or 80 anyway. (And then when they turn off the exit ramp and enter the neighborhoods, they can't allow themselves to slow down to 35, so they're going 50).

    By Blogger toastie, at 12:19 PM  

  • People drive 85 MPH because they can--not just because the road designs, lax law enforcement, and general culture encourage it, but because THEY CAN: they have vehicles that are capable of these speeds. If vehicles were designed to max out at a speed of about 70, then driving 85 or 90 simply wouldn't be possible.

    Hybrid vehicles can apparently display your miles per gallon as you drive: and the faster you drive, the less efficient (and more expensive) your trip becomes. This has become a "problem" in California, where a limited number of hybrids were given access to the carpool lane even when occupied by a solo driver. Apparently their efficient 55-60 MPH pace was really pissing off the regular drivers who were accustomed to going as fast as they could go without smashing into the car in front of them.

    By Anonymous cd, at 9:03 PM  

  • The court system may not take speeding seriously, but once you get tagged, the insurance folks sure do!

    What other state has mandatory increases as draconian as NC, where 2 points gets you 45% increase and 4 points gets you 90% increase. Seems like the ins companies should be paying for the troopers!

    By Blogger Phil, at 9:31 AM  

  • "Seems like the ins companies should be paying for the troopers!"

    I suspect that the insurance companies are very grateful for the support provided by the state of NC and that they do provide some sort of reciprocation.

    By Anonymous DTH, at 12:55 PM  

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