Wingman For Grandma
January 7, 2007 3:43 PM   Subscribe

When you drive on local streets you can be a Wingman for Grandma. Help make Grandma safer when she goes out for a walk. Drive the speed limit on local streets. Help set the pace for your community. Small increases in vehicle speed increase the threat to pedestrians. By helping to calm your local streets you can make it safer and more pleasant for you and your family.
posted by meddeviceengineer (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I'm all for pedestrian rights, but traffic calming devices can easily be overused. They have rendered some streets almost undrivable. When I see a pace car, I think Days of Thunder:

[During a pit stop]
Harry Hogge: All right. While we're still under a caution, I want you to go back out on that track and hit the pace car.
Cole Trickle: Hit the pace car?
Harry Hogge: Hit the pace car.
Cole Trickle: What for?
Harry Hogge: Because you've hit every other goddamned thing out there, I want you to be perfect.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:04 PM on January 7, 2007


I guess in Denmark most of the speeders are horny men...? (NSFW)
posted by miss lynnster at 4:09 PM on January 7, 2007


Sounds a reasonable enough proposition. What justification do drivers have for exceeding the speed limit? I really can't see one.
posted by MrMerlot at 4:17 PM on January 7, 2007


Ummm... getting places faster?
posted by miss lynnster at 4:18 PM on January 7, 2007


I always drive below the speed limit these days, and it usually results in other drivers overtaking me dangerously. Frankly I sometimes wonder whether my actions are resulting in a net increase or decrease in road safety.
posted by chrismear at 4:22 PM on January 7, 2007


really? Is going faster a reasonale enough justification? Aren't the speed limits basically about right?
posted by MrMerlot at 4:24 PM on January 7, 2007


miss lynnster writes "Ummm... getting places faster?"


Ummmmmmmmm.... too bad?

They are the rules of the road. Want to drive on the road? Obey the rules.

That includes--and this is aimed at you, drivers of Toronto--coming to a STOP at crosswalks, especially when the lights are flashing and someone is STANDING THERE POINTING, Jesus.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:24 PM on January 7, 2007


MrMerlot writes "really? Is going faster a reasonale enough justification? Aren't the speed limits basically about right?"

I'd say so.

On a highway, I do think that we in North America should ideally follow the example of the Autobahn. No speed limits, just drive with the flow of traffic. Of course, that would require North American drivers to be, oh, considerate, intelligent, and concerned about the fate of everyone else on the road. This may take some time.

In an urban setting, however, pedestrians trump automobiles, and rightly so. My right to wlak where I want to go supersedes your right to pilot thousands of pounds of metal at high speed. Don't like the speed limit in the city? leave earlier, or ditch the car and use public transit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:27 PM on January 7, 2007


I tend to drive the speed limit always when I'm in residential areas, not just because of pedestrians, but also because of pets. I would feel terrible if I ran over little Susie Homemaker's cat. When it comes to the freeway, I do tend to drive over the speed limit, but I don't tailgate and get all bitchy about it if I get stuck in traffic...
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 4:36 PM on January 7, 2007


Aren't the speed limits basically about right?

Not normally.

Even when speed limits are set for safety, they're set low so that when the cops catch you going faster than the real speed limit you're doing a healthy 5--10+ over the posted limit and can't easily weasel your way out of it the way you might be able to if you were pulled over for doing 1mph over the limit. In other words, the limit that is posted is only rarely the limit that is intended to be enforced.

And speed limits, and local traffic controls more generally, are often a matter of revenue rather than safety.

None of which excuses tearing through residential neighborhoods at unsafe speeds, but being cynical about speed limits doesn't indicate that someone is an inch from recreating Mad Max.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:38 PM on January 7, 2007


OK, I also have to wonder about the obesity tag on this post...what's that all about? Is it because fat people have a harder time running away from cars?
The global warming tag I'm also wondering about. I realize driving slower burns less fuel but city driving is the worst on gas tanks, and if you were concerned about global warming, wouldn't you just ride your bike instead of drive?
I hope I don't sound like I'm attacking anyone, I'm just curious about the choices of tag...or I am just an idiot that didn't read the links close enough?
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2007


ROU_Xenophobe writes "you're doing a healthy 5--10+ over the posted limit and can't easily weasel your way out of it the way you might be able to if you were pulled over for doing 1mph over the limit"

Why not just drive the limit?

No, seriously. Why not? I understand on a highway it might be different--there are no pedestrians to worry about. But why not just drive the posted limit?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:42 PM on January 7, 2007


I was with this idea until this part of "the pledge":

Display my Pace Car Sticker and put something on or in my car that's designed to make others laugh.

Because distracting other drivers with laughter totally helps the situation?
posted by Airhen at 4:51 PM on January 7, 2007


The tags obesity and global warming are both related to cars supplanting the ability for people to walk as the primary means of transportation. The monkeys on this planet would not be as fat if we walked the recommended 5 miles per day.

A big contributor to global warming is cars. Design our streets to be safe and convenient for people instead of cars and the total CO2 we pump into the atmosphere will drop. Most older transportation engineers do not consider bikes or pedestrians to be their customers. That is why we have wide, fast, hostile streets in most of the US.
posted by meddeviceengineer at 4:55 PM on January 7, 2007


I'm all for safety.
Really.

But recently, my neighborhood decided to add stop signs to every intersection in my neighborhood.

Go ahead and look at my location in my profile. My neighborhood is a grid.
Every.
Intersection


Furthermore, they put HUGE "speed bumps" at the stop signs for the four intersections a tthe corner of the local school. You cannot do more than 10mph without severely fucking up your car. (Although it jostled a loose connection in my car radio and got it working again, so that's good.)

The funny part about these new additions?
There was no reason to put them in. No accidents, nothing.

They're also useless.

In my 92 Ford Taurus, I found I could go 45mph between speed bumps. If they had wanted to insure the safety of the school children, they would have put the speedbumps in the middle of the street, not at the ends. That way, you'd have to slow for a stop sign, slow for a speed bump, and slow for another stop sign.

There is a 3 way stop or "T" intersection next to my house. There never used to be any stop signs, people just used common sense. Never had an accident. Now, people run the stop signs all the time, assuming that the other person will stop. I mean all the time. I've yet to see anyone stop at them. I've nearly gotten into 2 accidents while trying to turn onto my street because some bonehead ran the stop sign as I was turning. My mother has almost gotten into 3, and god knows how many other near accidents there are as a result of this.

Traffic control is only effective if you do it right.

(Sorry for the rant. I just had to get that off my chest.)
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2007


Our nice suburban street is used to cut between major city arteries at rush hour to avoid several long stoplights. A mother was killed last year walking her son to the bus stop. A neighbor is a cop and put one of those radar speed post signs in front of his house. He gave us a copy of the db that charts date, time and speed. Many instances of >60 mph. Three at >75 mph. In a 25 mph zone.

Takes some effort to get speed bumps installed and none of us in the neighborhood want them. So we do the next best thing and park our cars on the street, both sides and staggered. Now to get through the neighborhood you have to run a slalom. Plenty of room for emergency vehicles but drivers have to pay attention to oncoming traffic.
posted by hal9k at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2007


Ummm... getting places faster?

In a built up area you often don't, though. I've so often seen people make stupidly dangerous overtakes and tear off down the road, only to catch right up with them when they have to stop for the next set of lights. Pointless.

Are you always driving at a speed where you're able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear ahead? Would you abe able to stop if a kid unexpectedly walked out from between parked cars? If not there's a fair chance that, eventually, you're going to hit something or someone.
posted by boosh at 5:02 PM on January 7, 2007


Aren't the speed limits basically about right?

Besides what others have said, there are too many examples to name where a local community sets a blanket speed limit on streets, regardless of the actual street conditions.

For example, a city might say, "all residential streets are 25 mph," and then classify empty, semi-rural areas as a residential area, not because of the presence of actual houses, but due to the lack of commercial buildings. Or the community might label as residential a wide, well-lit boulevard, when the engineers actually designed it to accommodate higher speeds.

The worst set-up, of course, is where a higher-speed area directly abuts a residential area because of poor city planning, and there's no proper engineering review. So, your 40 mph thoroughfare turns into a 25 mph residential zone with no warning.
posted by frogan at 5:05 PM on January 7, 2007


Hal9k: People speed down my street too. The parking cars on either side thing is something we already do, but since I've lived there (3 years) I have heard of six parked cars getting hit by speeders.
posted by Holy foxy moxie batman! at 5:09 PM on January 7, 2007


Why not just drive the limit?

No, seriously. Why not? I understand on a highway it might be different--there are no pedestrians to worry about. But why not just drive the posted limit?
Again, "Ummm... getting places faster?" Maybe that's not a good reason, but it's a reason.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2007


Bullshit. Going 5km over the speed limit hardly ever gets you to a place further. I go the speed limit and I always end up catching up with those speeders at the traffic light. Losing my life because you want to shave off a couple of seconds? No thanks.
posted by liquorice at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2007


MrMoonPie writes "Again, 'Ummm... getting places faster?' Maybe that's not a good reason, but it's a reason."

Yes, a stupid one. More to the point, one that completely ignores the fact that there are people walking, biking, etc., around you who have just as much right to get where they're going safely as you do.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:28 PM on January 7, 2007


Speeding, hard stops and hard takeoffs will get you to your location faster. For most trips, this usually is less than 1-3% faster.

Is all that mental stress and wear and tear on your car worth it? Is the noise pollution worth it? The severely decreased safety? I don't really think that it is.

You want to get somewhere fast in an urban environment? Ride a bike!

Between the ability to slice through traffic like it doesn't even exist, the ease of parking and today's ability to hop on buses and trains, bikes make all kinds of sense.
posted by loquacious at 5:36 PM on January 7, 2007


Okay folks, I was just kidding with the "getting places faster" thing. It just seemed the overly obvious response.

For the record, I am firmly against mowing down grandmas. And I work at home, so my current commute consists of changing out of my pajamas & walking into the next room. And I always do that at the posted speed limit in my hallway.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:50 PM on January 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Look, you can take my license and all that jive, but man... I just can't drive 55.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 5:50 PM on January 7, 2007


I'm with you on the bike thing, loquacious.

Good slogan too.

Bikes: They make all kinds of sense.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:54 PM on January 7, 2007


Yeah, holy foxy. Still working a few bugs out of the system.

A sort of ironic twist: In August, my wife was driving with our three kids down a campus area street. Cars parked on both sides. Guy runs a stop sign on a T-intersection and plants his grill into the driver's side door. He was traveling 45 mph (per est. by the police). Wife was knocked unconcious, kids banged up a bit but everybody is on the mend.

Except for property (car was totalled) we've not yet settled because of ongoing therapy. I'm in no rush because of a stupid excuse I overheard by the driver when I arrived on the scene: "I didn't see there was a stop sign because of all the cars parked on the street."
posted by hal9k at 5:55 PM on January 7, 2007


I still want a mountain bike (would have one if I had a clue what to get or the time to really figure it out, the damn things are expensive and there are zillions of them) but I have no desire for a street bike. Aside from the fact that I do not live in an area where bike-riding as anything but a hobby is reasonable, people on the roads simply do not pay attention to or give a shit about people on bikes. You rarely see people on roads biking around here. And still hear about a handful of bike riders getting smashed by cars each year.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:04 PM on January 7, 2007


Aren't the speed limits basically about right?

I'm sure you could check out any of the millions of other speed limit debate threads archived on the internet for the benefit of future generations and learn more than you ever wanted to know about it, but basically, no, they're usually not. The appropriate speed to drive varies too widely with the conditions of the road, car, and driver for a single number to come anywhere close to capturing it. Thus the eternal injustice of fixed speed limits that are less than the maximum speed you might ever want to go, which would be way too fast under merely average conditions. On residential streets, I find, they are often about right, and just as often too high or too low.
posted by sfenders at 6:10 PM on January 7, 2007


I still want a mountain bike (would have one if I had a clue what to get or the time to really figure it out, the damn things are expensive and there are zillions of them) but I have no desire for a street bike.

Weretable, my man, you ever want some pointers on how to get the right bike in the right size, just drop me an email. We'll set you up with a nice AskMe and point you out to some shops near you and all that.

Yeah, I don't ride a "street bike", either. They're too uncomfortable and fragile for me. There's a lot of options besides "street" and "mountain" now, though, with options like comfort cruisers, town/suburban commuters, hybrids and more, with a wide range of performance/comfort ratios.
posted by loquacious at 6:48 PM on January 7, 2007


I understand on a highway it might be different--there are no pedestrians to worry about. But why not just drive the posted limit?

Because the posted limits are not normally what the local authorities actually intend as a speed limit, so by driving the posted limit you would usually be unnecessarily delaying yourself.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:18 PM on January 7, 2007


"Again, 'Ummm... getting places faster?' Maybe that's not a good reason, but it's a reason.

No, all all does is get you to the light while it's still red. Then when I arrive, about the time it turns green because I'm doing the speed the lights are synchronized for, I have to stop because you're sitting there. Repeat at the next light. And the next. Your speeding slows both of us down.

I see this every single day. And because I drive the same commute at roughly the same time every day, I often see the same people doing it, day after day, because they're far too stupid to figure it out, which in my book makes them too stupid to drive.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:20 PM on January 7, 2007


"Why not just drive the limit?

No, seriously. Why not? I understand on a highway it might be different--there are no pedestrians to worry about. But why not just drive the posted limit?"

Christ, the poster forgot "axe grinding" in his tags, and all we're hearing from is the Holy Sanctimony Choir and Knitting Group.

Here's why I don't go the speed limit down the street that leads to my house: It's too low. I coast (I have a stick) above the speed (25 mph) on this gentle grade, and hitting the brakes again and again is retarded. No one else goes the speed limit, and when they do, the road will back up for miles, because the number of cars that have to go down that street are far higher than its capacity at speed limit. So for the one jerkoff to go 25 down the hill, that means people sitting behind him, braking and starting, braking and starting, going less than 15.
And yeah, I ride my bike and take the bus when I can, but the bullshit from DNAB about public transit just isn't applicable. I can get to class in 25 minutes in my car, or in two hours on the bus (probably about two hours on the bike, though I think I'd die when I got to larger streets).
I even know that they do periodic speed traps on my road (specifically because there's no way to stay under the limit without riding your brakes), and y'know what? Those are bullshit too.
The pedestrian issue is largely a canard. We're not talking about crosswalks, which are tied to lights (though I will say that it's fucking retarded to wait through a full red light at 3am with no traffic), and aside from that people walk on the sidewalk. Contrary to the "Everybody has a right to be there, man," crap, pedestrians shouldn't be in the street unless they want to get hit. Just like how bicyclists shouldn't ride the wrong way, or go out at night in black sweatshirts and pants with no reflectors on their bikes. And they certainly shouldn't be the fuckers who ride in the middle of the lane, huffing up a hill at five miles per, refusing to let you by.
Again, I ride my bike, I walk, I take public transit. But these blanket exhortations based on some thin principles are simply disjunctive with a large, large portion of American urban planning, culture and even broader common sense.

This is a flat-out shitty post, filled with flat-out shitty thought that has only continued to live because most of MeFi is filled with the "cars are bad for children and kittens and other living things" ego-hippies.
posted by klangklangston at 7:34 PM on January 7, 2007


Sitting here near the window, I see people blow through the stop sign and speed on my small residential street all the time. I walk the few blocks to work and am often sworn at or nearly missed as I cross a busy street. People who drive too fast, cut through neighborhoods, cut off pedestrians and bikes may save a minute or 2 a week. They're always late, always rushing, and way too stressed.

Slow down. It's not worth those 2 minutes a week if you end up with my kid's blood on the grill of your car. Take it a little easier and calm down.
posted by theora55 at 8:08 PM on January 7, 2007


Wow. Who knew that speed limits would get MeFi's dander up?
posted by lilithim at 8:15 PM on January 7, 2007


Do the fat people break the speed limit, or observe it? I don't know how to align my prejudices here.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:35 PM on January 7, 2007


Our neighborhood solution to speeders wasn't working all that well until a few of us started parking cars, and now old trucks, out on the street. This all came to a head a few months ago when a hit and run driver knocked down the neighborhood mailbox station in front of my house. This was a multi-mailbox station on a 4"x4" aluminum post set in concrete, and the guy left ruts 6 inches deep in my yard, so it must have been an epic event, but I missed the actual collision, being away for the day when it happened. So, a few of us were discussing it a few days later, and decided to make it a little tougher for people to build up any speed going through the neighborhood.

I have a 1997 Dodge Intrepid, that I rarely drive anymore, and I started parking it out in the street, instead of in my drive. Other neighbors started parking trucks and cars in the street, too. Suddenly, you had to do a serpentine down our street, and there was a lot less traffic moving through. I think once there was a covenant banning on-street parking in the homeowner's association documents, but, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, to stay safe.

This is working for us. And considering it took the USPS 5 months to replace our mailboxes, it's something we have a vested interest in continuing.
posted by paulsc at 10:14 PM on January 7, 2007


I live in a cul-de-sac, and when my neighbor at the far end comes down the street at 30 mph and my kids are playing in the front yard, it feels subjectively like she is going 50 mph.

Most of the time my kids are in the backyard, yes I should keep them penned up, etc. etc. but the fact is that neighborhood driving around kids is always going to evoke a deep visceral reaction and staring at freaked out parents quizzically, with one eyebrow raised like a bad Leonard Nimoy impersonation isn't going to change that.
posted by craniac at 10:21 PM on January 7, 2007


I was taught by a policeman that 55mph is substantially less safe than 70. Why? Because 55mph isn't fast enough to keep a healthy brain fully occupied, and attention wanders. 70 is fast enough to allow the best focus, and nearly all freeways were designed with 70mph speeds in mind.

Obviously, this doesn't apply in residential areas, but speed itself is not automatically dangerous. Reckless driving is, inattentive driving is, but speed in and of itself shouldn't be demonized. The speed limit is not always appropriate. Sometimes it's even too high; I've seen roads posted at 45 on which I wouldn't dare go much over 35.

That said, 75 in a 25.. dayam. If I had kids in that neighborhood, I'd probably go for speed bumps. Or, possibly, speed-triggered heat-seeking missiles.
posted by Malor at 10:27 PM on January 7, 2007


hello pace car, i'm the pass car. i think you have an epic front end in the half-second i could see it before it became a receding dot.
posted by bruce at 11:09 PM on January 7, 2007


The UK's been running a Public information ad with the interesting statistic that if a car hits a pedestrian at 40mph, there's an ~80% chance of fatality while, at 30mph, it's ~20%.

(Another Related ad. And of course, some people have their own opinions)
posted by Luddite at 12:28 AM on January 8, 2007


I was taught by a policeman that 55mph is substantially less safe than 70. Why? Because 55mph isn't fast enough to keep a healthy brain fully occupied, and attention wanders.

That sounds very much like a rationalization concocted by a policeman who likes to drive fast, considers himself too smart ("healthy brain") to follow the rules designed for the simple folk, and, like 90 percent of all drivers, thinks he's one of the best drivers on the road.

speed itself is not automatically dangerous. Reckless driving is, inattentive driving is, but speed in and of itself shouldn't be demonized.

All else being equal, a higher speed is automatically more dangerous than a lower speed, and because they can't make all else equal, they post a speed limit that they hope will save lives while letting you get to your destination within a reasonable time.

If you want a perfect speed limit, you'll have to install a wireless system in every vehicle that changes the speed limits (upper and lower) of your particular vehicle (model, year, inspection record, passengers, loaded weight) driven by a particular driver (ignition linked to license card, automatic license check to consult driver's record) depending on many other variables (current weather and light and time and construction, cabin noise, other vehicles and drivers coming and going on this same stretch of road, local emergencies, current distance from schools and homes, etc.). In real time, your maximum speed would be calculated and displayed on your dash and you would be billed/fined (and reported to your insurance company) automatically every time you stray from the specified speed.

Or you could obey the signs.
posted by pracowity at 1:24 AM on January 8, 2007


I don't know how true it is but over here (in Australia) we're constantly being told that even shaving 5km off driving can reduce a serious injury/death to something very minor.

And klangklangston? We're not all part of the "Holy Sanctimony Choir and Knitting Group", I lost a close family member due to someone's idiocy while speeding, so forgive me if I feel the need to tread over your "right" to speed.
posted by liquorice at 3:13 AM on January 8, 2007


Wow.

Some of you people really need to learn that driving is a privilege, not a right. And if you wish to enjoy that privilege, you have to follow the rules.

It is not impossible to drive the limit. Unless I completely misunderstand the way that cars work, they don't have a minimum speed. Drive the damn limit when within the city. There is no excuse, short of woman-giving-birth-in-the-back-seat level emergency, for going over. None. Sorry if the low speed annoys you, and sorry if you feel that impinges on your perceived right to drive wherever you like as fast as you like, but the faster you go the longer it takes you to stop. Urban streets are filled with surprises--cats, someone opening their door unexpectedly, children dashing out into the street for whatever reason. And while I would agree that pedestrians do need to look both ways, it's ridiculous to suggest that the entire responsibility is on them. You're the one with thousands of pounds of deadly metal being piloted at what has been deemed an unsafe speed for the area. You are, therefore, the one with a duty of care to those who share the road with you, and those who use the sidewalks.

Drive the limit. Don't like it? Get it changed. Until then, drive the damn limit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:00 AM on January 8, 2007


Driving faster to get someplace is an illusion in an urban environment. I constantly see people drag race from a red light to get to the next red light 10 seconds quicker than me. Bravo! People need to relax much more, wtf?
posted by JJ86 at 5:43 AM on January 8, 2007


Driving faster to get someplace is an illusion in an urban environment.

It also doesn't make much difference in rural areas, not for most trips. AAA example: "The average time saved on a 5-mile trip, driving 65 mph on a 45 mph posted road is only 1.9 minutes." So you drove 20 mph over the limit and still saved less than 2 minutes? You could have finished listening to a good song. Instead, you're at Walmart with a couple of minutes more to spend among the Walmartians. Yay.

The only time speed will make a real difference is on a long, monotonous highway trip, but then you're a sucker for driving at all. If your time is so valuable and you want to save it, don't waste it staring at the road. Take a plane, train, or bus and then you can read or use your laptop or rest while the pilot or engineer or bus driver wastes times staring ahead.
posted by pracowity at 6:29 AM on January 8, 2007


klangklangston posted: Here's why I don't go the speed limit down the street that leads to my house: It's too low. I coast (I have a stick) above the speed (25 mph) on this gentle grade, and hitting the brakes again and again is retarded. No one else goes the speed limit, and when they do, the road will back up for miles, because the number of cars that have to go down that street are far higher than its capacity at speed limit. So for the one jerkoff to go 25 down the hill, that means people sitting behind him, braking and starting, braking and starting, going less than 15.

Wow that's a mouth full of justification. Nixon, Haldemann and the boys had many good sounding reasons for doing what they were doing too. If you have a stick then you don't to use the brake or coast. Try driving in 2nd and use engine braking to keep you at a constant 25mph. I do this all the time on any slope. It works like magic.

Other people's poor driving habits are no reason to follow the pack. The reasons why there are traffic problems on high volume roads are because of overly anxious drivers trying to play NASCAR. It happens even on high volume roads where people are driving 10mph over the speed limit. Some idiot always wants to go faster and cut in front of others causing everyone else to drive evasively. The jerkoff isn't the person going the speed limit, it is the person trying to drive like they are in Talladega. Drive for the situation and the road conditions. Tailgating isn't going to make everyone magically go faster. Relax, take a deep breath.
posted by JJ86 at 7:20 AM on January 8, 2007


Or you could obey the signs.

Or just drive at a little bit (5--7mph) over the limit, which would almost certainly be closer to what the people posting the signs intended, and to the way in which the limit is enforced. Equating this with Talladega is hysterical nonsense.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:50 AM on January 8, 2007


Or just drive at a little bit (5--7mph) over the limit, which would almost certainly be closer to what the people posting the signs intended,

I know some UK traffic engineers; that is not what they intend. They have some opinions regarding motorway speed limits, but when they put up 30 signs in an urban area they damn well mean 30 or less.
posted by Luddite at 8:09 AM on January 8, 2007


"Drive the limit. Don't like it? Get it changed. Until then, drive the damn limit."

Or don't, since there are next to no consequences. I go about five to seven over, and the last time I was pulled over was because I was obviously tired, not speeding.
I'll ignore the rest of your comment, since it was more binary bullshit from someone who has consistently refused to use their brain once they've seized on a moral position.

"Driving faster to get someplace is an illusion in an urban environment. I constantly see people drag race from a red light to get to the next red light 10 seconds quicker than me. Bravo! People need to relax much more, wtf?"

And yet, to make all the lights down 5th Ave. in Ann Arbor, you need to go exactly three miles over the limit for the entire strip (though Huron's sometimes off rhythm). Or, in Detroit, making the lights usually means going about seven over the limit. If you don't, you get stuck at a light at every corner down Woodward.

"And klangklangston? We're not all part of the "Holy Sanctimony Choir and Knitting Group", I lost a close family member due to someone's idiocy while speeding, so forgive me if I feel the need to tread over your "right" to speed."

Ah, the classic ad hominem. Were they also high on the pot? The fact that they were speeding is much, much less important than, say, how much they were speeding by, and what else they were doing that led to the accident. People also die all the time when there's no speeding involved, and while speeding can increase the risk of an accident, it doesn't necessarily. Further, just because you've been personally touched by the issue doesn't mean that you don't like to knit. Many of the most sanctimonious have a personal reason for it, but that doesn't make them right.

"It also doesn't make much difference in rural areas, not for most trips. AAA example: "The average time saved on a 5-mile trip, driving 65 mph on a 45 mph posted road is only 1.9 minutes." So you drove 20 mph over the limit and still saved less than 2 minutes? You could have finished listening to a good song. Instead, you're at Walmart with a couple of minutes more to spend among the Walmartians. Yay."

Yeah, but on a 40 mile trip, that'd be around 15 minutes, which can mean the difference between making and missing an appointment. But hey, way to bring Walmart into it. Nothing makes for reasoned discussion like Walmart at Metafilter.

"Wow that's a mouth full of justification. Nixon, Haldemann and the boys had many good sounding reasons for doing what they were doing too. If you have a stick then you don't to use the brake or coast. Try driving in 2nd and use engine braking to keep you at a constant 25mph. I do this all the time on any slope. It works like magic."

And worries the transmission. Or, I could go 30 in a 25 and be happy. Perhaps the problem is that I only drive when I have somewhere to go?

"Other people's poor driving habits are no reason to follow the pack. The reasons why there are traffic problems on high volume roads are because of overly anxious drivers trying to play NASCAR. It happens even on high volume roads where people are driving 10mph over the speed limit. Some idiot always wants to go faster and cut in front of others causing everyone else to drive evasively. The jerkoff isn't the person going the speed limit, it is the person trying to drive like they are in Talladega. Drive for the situation and the road conditions. Tailgating isn't going to make everyone magically go faster. Relax, take a deep breath."

First off, speeding on that road isn't a poor drving habit, and second, the flow of traffic IS a good determiner for the correct speed.
I did a long interview with a civil engineer who designed highways, and what he said was that on any given road, 80% of people will naturally find the most safe speed, and that 10% will go too fast and 10% will go too slow. The correct way to set a speed limit is to monitor the road and let the vast mode determine where it's set. Then, you should equally ticket those too slow and those too fast. The way speed limits are set is entirely arbitrary, and based on the "fund-raising needs of the governments that set them."
And I've seen far more accidents caused by the jerkoffs who insist on going 55 in the left lane ("It's the speed limit, dur-de-dur") than the people who drive around them. For most high volume roads, it'd be easier to solve the traffic problems by reminding people that the left lane is for passing, and that you should strive to get to the right if you're not passing.
Driving for the conditions and situation often means going above the speed limit, and moralizing prigs who venerate the law before logic are far more of a danger than the moderate speeder.
posted by klangklangston at 8:18 AM on January 8, 2007


Drive the limit. Don't like it? Get it changed. Until then, drive the damn limit.

dnab, is there a particular reason you're being so unpleasant about this? i'm coming from a sympathetic position here but every comment you've made on this post has a coda that makes me want to run you over with a speeding car. instead of repeating yourself over and over, maybe we could get into a deeper discussion about how limits are set and whether the process works etc etc but barring that you don't need to say the same thing again (even one more time). i think i'm speaking for the group when i say you're hurting your case here.
posted by radiosig at 8:26 AM on January 8, 2007


when they put up 30 signs in an urban area they damn well mean 30 or less

Then they're deeply foolish people. How on earth do they expect local police to be able to secure convictions for people doing 31 in a 30 zone?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:53 AM on January 8, 2007


I'm all for driving the limit, but having the same limit now that you had 40 years ago is sort of stupid. Particularly on the highways. Cars are much better. Having said that, my speed limit rants in order are:
Isn't it ridiculous that you have a posted limit, and an actual (you'll get a ticket if you pass a cop going faster than 10-15 mph over) limit? I'd prefer a real posted limit.

Isn't it a fact that most places, you take your life in your hands if you drive the limit, no one else comes close, and the people passing on right etc if you are driving 55 and it is severely dangerous. Esp on a motorcyle...Friday night I-95 North out of NYC - traffic moves 85 mph - 55 posted, with cops passing on right and no tickets being handed out.

Which leads me to, cops driving significantly faster than traffic, seeing folks speeding, and then pulling them over on blind narrow corners to give them tickets.

/end rants
posted by sfts2 at 10:01 AM on January 8, 2007


But a real posted limit isn't, well, realistic.

Getting a conviction for someone doing 1mph or km/h over the posted limit isn't feasible since the driver can reasonably enough claim that either his car's speed indicator isn't accurate to that degree, or that the detection gear was slightly off, or that the officer's hand holding the radar gun was moving when the speed was detected, or some combination of all three, or other reasonable excuses for why the driver was not actually (or at least intentionally) exceeding the posted speed limit by 1mph or km/h.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:30 AM on January 8, 2007


People really do get tickets for going trivial amounts over the speed limit. I know this from second hand experience. Cops have no compunction about writing them, and I assume judges have no reason to find such a practice abusive.

My college physics instructor contested a ticket on the grounds that his excess speed was within the margin of error for the radar device, and the police brought out their speed-gun expert who routinely testifies to the accuracy of these devices. He lost.
posted by popechunk at 10:57 AM on January 8, 2007


"Ummm... getting places faster?"


Next time you are in London take a black cab and notice how slow they go. They do this, not to filch more money from you, but because the UK traffic lights are timed to coincide with the speed limit. If the cabbie times it right, they need not stop at traffic lights on a straight road. You might be able to overtake a pace car, but necessarily get there much faster.
posted by MrMerlot at 11:32 AM on January 8, 2007


"I realize driving slower burns less fuel"

To add some fuel to the fire, I'd like to point out that this isn't exactly correct in general. Around 55-60 MPH is where the fuel efficiency gained by higher speeds and wind resistance are evenly matched in a typical sedan. Less for a truck, more for a something sporty and streamlined.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2007


ROUX: Or just drive at a little bit (5--7mph) over the limit,
Me: I know some UK traffic engineers; that is not what they intend.
ROUX: How on earth do they expect local police to be able to secure convictions for people doing 31 in a 30 zone?
...
31/30 = +3%
37/30 = +23%
Different order of magnitude argument, I'm afraid.

To cut to the chase, I think it's antisocial to selectively break laws when there's no clear moral case to do so. (I'm the sort of person who'll wait on a bicycle at a red light at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere.)
posted by Luddite at 12:05 PM on January 8, 2007


klangklangston posted: blah, blah, blah.

MeFi doesn't really work too well for those type of back and forth arguments. Find some other forum for that type of stuff...

I applaud the sense of your convictions although not the convictions themselves. The final verdict from the majority here is that speeding does more harm and little good. Think more of the dangers to the community and less of your own selfish needs.
posted by JJ86 at 2:18 PM on January 8, 2007


klang, I'm not being sanctimonius I'm jus' saying that I don't want to die of your stupidity. Is all. (me argue goodly)
posted by liquorice at 2:46 PM on January 8, 2007


"Some of you people really need to learn that driving is a privilege, not a right. And if you wish to enjoy that privilege, you have to follow the rules."

Nice sentiment, but not very realistic. Anyone who has driven in the U.S. recently should notice that the majority of people these days drive as fast as they want with little consequence.
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:15 PM on January 8, 2007


"I applaud the sense of your convictions although not the convictions themselves. The final verdict from the majority here is that speeding does more harm and little good. Think more of the dangers to the community and less of your own selfish needs."

Wait, the final verdict from the majority HERE is something I should value over common sense and personal judgment? Well, that's retarded. But thanks for framing it as my selfishness. Hey, just think how safe we'd be if no one drove ever! (Pointing out that arguments privileging safety have to have some limit, but yours don't seem to).

"klang, I'm not being sanctimonius I'm jus' saying that I don't want to die of your stupidity. Is all. (me argue goodly)"

Dude, you totally called me out on that time I killed a guy by doing 30 in a 25! You're so right!
posted by klangklangston at 6:10 PM on January 8, 2007


Or don't, since there are next to no consequences. I go about five to seven over, and the last time I was pulled over was because I was obviously tired, not speeding.

That's true, which is why the speed control has to be built into your car. Don't call it fine, call it a toll for exceeding the limit. At the end of your trip, you pay automatically a toll determined by how long you drove over the limit and by what percentage you exceeded the limit. Plus you pay a real fine (points against your license, suspension, etc., all the usual stuff) for exceeding the limit by, say, a third -- so rich folk don't drag race through school zones. In a 60 zone, you can go up to 80 without legal consequences, but you pay for every bit of it. In a 30 zone, you can go 40, but you pay for every second you spend driving over the limit, without the police having to catch you. If you want to zoom past a car that's doing the limit, OK, but pay for it. Then the police could take care of real business instead of hiding behind bushes with radar guns. Market forces would keep traffic down near the limit.

Or opt out of such a system, but expect your insurance company (if you can find one) to price your policy at about 10 times the cost of a policy on a car with such a system.
posted by pracowity at 12:35 AM on January 9, 2007


"Dude, you totally called me out on that time I killed a guy by doing 30 in a 25! You're so right!"

30 in a 25 is 20% over the speed limit. Bearing in mind that your kinetic energy goes as the square of your speed, that's a non-trivial increase in the damage you'll do if you hit someone. According to this document "children are eight times more likely to die if hit by a motor vehicle moving at 30mph, compared to 20mph or less." (There's a reference to the research that comes from.)

Doing 30 in a 25 is much more irresponsible than doing 55 in a 50 zone.
posted by Luddite at 7:50 AM on January 9, 2007


Pracowity— Does this nanny also wipe your ass?

"30 in a 25 is 20% over the speed limit. Bearing in mind that your kinetic energy goes as the square of your speed, that's a non-trivial increase in the damage you'll do if you hit someone. According to this document "children are eight times more likely to die if hit by a motor vehicle moving at 30mph, compared to 20mph or less." (There's a reference to the research that comes from.)"

And if the speed limit was one mile an hour and I was doing twenty-five, I'd be doing 2500% over the limit! Imagine how much more damage I'll do if I hit someone going 25 than if I hit them going one mile an hour! You, sir, have convinced me to never touch The Devil's Pedal, right next to God's Brakes.
posted by klangklangston at 9:02 AM on January 9, 2007


And if the speed limit was one mile an hour and I was doing twenty-five, I'd be doing 2500% over the limit! Imagine how much more damage I'll do if I hit someone going 25 than if I hit them going one mile an hour!
Uh... yes. That's why in this country you'd probably receive a jail sentence for such behaviour, as opposed to probably getting a fixed penalty for doing 30 in a 20 zone.

There are many places with speed limits of 5mph; carparks, pedestrianised zones, school exits, etc. If you did 25mph you would indeed be vastly more dangerous again than if you were doing 30 in a 20 zone.

(sigh) Even if you're of the opinion that limits are set deliberately low, surely you'd be of the opinion they're set at 80% (or whatever) of what's sensible, rather than a flat 10mph less?

But, yes, I am a bit of an anti-private-car bigot. And, in the best bigoted tradition, nothing you say will convince me - it'd probably take some sort of magical experience where a private automobile saved my hypothetical baby's life, whilst I taught it something about itself, and we all grew as people. Or something.
posted by Luddite at 12:11 PM on January 9, 2007


"Uh... yes. That's why in this country you'd probably receive a jail sentence for such behaviour, as opposed to probably getting a fixed penalty for doing 30 in a 20 zone."

The point, which went whizzing past you at commuter speeds, was that justifying speed limits based on safety without regard for situation is absurd. Several people upthread had the right idea— if you want people to go slower, you narrow the roads, and they'll react. But the argument that one speed is more dangerous than another based on some Platonic ideal is bullshit.

But hey, you're a bigot.
posted by klangklangston at 12:29 PM on January 9, 2007


But hey, you're a bigot.

And feeling mighty smug with my moral superiority right now, I can tell you.
posted by Luddite at 2:19 PM on January 9, 2007


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