Speed Kills?

I’ve been sitting on this potential post for a couple of days but was prompted to put it up in light of Bitter’s revelation about Virginia traffic fatalities over the Thanksgiving weekend.

I don’t agree with this author’s tongue in cheek implication that low speed limits, in and of themselves, cause crashes, but the fact that lowered speed limits don’t decrease crashes is telling to me.

In my experience, crashes aren’t caused by people driving too fast, they are caused by people driving “differently”. In other words, they aren’t necessarily caused by speed, but by rapid changes in speed.

If the government truly wanted to reduce traffic crashes I don’t think it would be that difficult.

Step 1: Eliminate speed limits on highways except in tight turns or urban areas (or, perhaps set the speed limit at 100mph to discourage blatant stupidity).

Step 2: Introduce stiff penalties for both obstructing traffic (by driving slower than the flow of traffic) and “aggressive driving” (by attempting to drive faster than the flow of traffic). People should be encouraged to “go with the flow”.

Step 3: Require all traffic to stay right except when passing or allowing traffic to enter the highway.

Of course, this wouldn’t end ALL highway crashes…some people are just DETERMINED to be as retarded as they possibly can behind the wheel. But if the flow of traffic can be maintained, many crashes would be prevented.

This will never happen in this country because traffic citations are a source of government revenue. Even if a law is initially passed to enhance citizen safety, once the revenue stream is established it will rarely be voluntarily given up.

That’s why red light cameras aren’t going away even though they demonstrably don’t work for their intended purpose and as simple an act as extending yellow light times by a few seconds has been demonstrated to be MUCH more effective at reducing intersection crashes. The red light cameras produce revenue…extending yellow light times does not. All extending yellow light times does is…well…work.

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