Speed Rules
July 23, 2003 2:00 AM   Subscribe

Technology is about finding the best road to your destination. Some are fast. Others are slow.
Having one speed limit seems redundant. Put it to a test and let skills decide.
posted by lightweight (22 comments total)
posted by delmoi at 2:04 AM on July 23, 2003

Give good drivers a higher speed limit.
posted by lightweight at 2:30 AM on July 23, 2003

I have a hangover so maybe its just me...but what delmoi said....
posted by mattr at 2:37 AM on July 23, 2003

this is awesome.
posted by luckyclone at 2:56 AM on July 23, 2003

I'm not hung over, and... WTF? Did you read the posting guidelines even a little? Why not just post "Give good drivers a higher speed limit" to the front page with no link...

Oh and, yeah, give good drivers a higher speed limit.
posted by nicwolff at 3:14 AM on July 23, 2003

Can't see this one lasting.
posted by Joeforking at 3:27 AM on July 23, 2003

Thanks lucky. One smile is enough.
Good night ya'll.
posted by lightweight at 3:33 AM on July 23, 2003

Between this and lightweight's last FPP, anyone else get the idea that lightweight likes to drink half a beer and then post to MetaFilter?

*goes back to lurking*
posted by mokujin at 4:27 AM on July 23, 2003

Don't give good drivers a higher speed limit! Firstly, how would you define a fast driver. Driving's a pretty multi-dimensional skill set, and you can be good a certain aspects and rubbish at others. (e.g. fast hand eye co-ordination; poor ability to read the road). Secondly, I can't think of anything worse than roads filled with traffic that can move at two speeds. One of the things that (to me) contributes to road safety is the concept of "driving at the same speed as the local traffic". Thirdly, increasing the speed limit for safe drivers will only make them into less safe drivers. Considering how dangerous the roads are anyway, that's a pretty dumb idea.

Finally, I'm pretty opposed to giving bad drivers more to think about. "Hmm - This is a class two road. That means that I can only drive at... Carry the three, take away 5mph for every point on my licence... ermmm... crash."

A stupid idea for stupid people who think that they're better than anyone else.
posted by seanyboy at 4:37 AM on July 23, 2003

What has the plane got to do with it?

I'm outta here.
posted by Frasermoo at 4:55 AM on July 23, 2003

Firstly, how would you define a fast driver

Well, Firstly, you'd look at the speedometer...
posted by thanotopsis at 4:56 AM on July 23, 2003

If you vary the speed limit on a per-driver basis, enforcement is flat-out impossible. Police would have to stop and query every single car in order to find any violations at all.

And no, you can't tag the car with the driver's permitted speed, because if my limit is different from my wife's and we share a car, you can't tell from the cruiser if either of us is in violation without stopping and asking.

So on the whole, this is the dumbest idea I've heard in long time.
posted by Cerebus at 5:49 AM on July 23, 2003

differences in speed on the road wold not be good.

slow drivers can be as dangerous as fast drivers.
posted by Frasermoo at 6:24 AM on July 23, 2003

One thing's for certain: pike should under no circumstances be allowed behind the wheel.
posted by stonerose at 7:02 AM on July 23, 2003

Or we could set the speed limits where they actually belong.

Speed doesn't kill. Speed differential kills.
posted by trharlan at 7:05 AM on July 23, 2003

conspiracy theories aside, WTF is up with the commonly-used "55" speed limit? go look at your speedometer. nearly every car i've driven has numbers that increase in multiples of 20 (0, 20, 40, 60...). there's a large tick mark between those numbers, and then usually 4 smaller marks between the number and the middle mark.

what it comes down to is that the smallest increment on the speedometer is 2 MPH --so if you want to be a good, law-abiding driver, 55 MPH is somewhere between two small tick marks. it's a hell of a lot easier to keep your needle right over the "60" than it is to keep it between 2 tiny lines somewhere before the "60" mark.

so back to the conspiracy theory... i think the automakers and the government are in bed with each other, TRYING to make it hard for us to abide by the speed limit. (yes, i'm wearing my tin foil hat.)
posted by bhayes82 at 7:55 AM on July 23, 2003

Actually, I'd say if you think you're a hot shit driver and you want to "put it to the test", you should try this first, and prepare to have your preconceptions about what a good driver you are shattered.

Firstly, how would you define a fast driver.

Simple: test them. The standard American "go around the block, turn left, and park it" drivers exam is complete BS, and there are too many people on the road who couldn't even begin to handle their car in an emergency. Allow drivers to take an optional high-performance driving test which covers the basics of high speed car control and emergency handling. Those who pass get special tags and a 50% buffer on all speed limits on limited access highways and non-urbanized surface streets. Make there be an annual fee, and an annual requalificationt test. And make the fine for allowing a non-licensed driver to drive an exempted car very strict -- such as immediate loss of high-speed priveleges.

And no, you can't tag the car with the driver's permitted speed, because if my limit is different from my wife's and we share a car, you can't tell from the cruiser if either of us is in violation without stopping and asking.

Well, if you want your wife to drive your car, you don't put the high-speed permit on it. Or she takes a high-performance driving course and gets her own license. It's that simple. This isn't meant to be convenient. It's meant to allow people who have *proven* in a serious manner that they can handle a car at speed to do so freely, without being limited by the restrictions laid down for Joe Yuppy in his rusted-out, bestickered Volvo.

Speed doesn't kill. Speed differential kills.

Not necessarily. Look at the autobahn. Speed differential doesn't kill if lane discipline is strictly enforced.

Or we could set the speed limits where they actually belong.

That, on the other hand, is something I could get behind. Full 85th percential speed limits on all roads, no more cash-cow speed traps. It's more likely to happen than my high-speed permit scheme, but it will still never happen as long as there are so many towns who like to pad their coffers through speed fascism.
posted by jammer at 11:17 AM on July 23, 2003

The problem with any scheme that allows different speed limits for different drivers is that those speedy drivers still have to drive on the same roads as the rest of us losers. The speedy people may be able to handle their vehicles at that speed, but having them around makes it that much more likely that Joe Yuppie will do something stupid.

If I can't look in my rear view mirror, see a car, and have a pretty good idea of when it might be next to me, I can't ever make a safe lane change. And if I'm driving 100[1] and you're driving 150, safely making that estimate is pretty damned difficult. And when I do something stupid, because, hey, I'm a sucky driver[2], and pull out directly in front of you, it's not going to matter how great a driver you are, and that it's my fault. We're still going to kill people when we collide.

As for the whole 'lane discipline' thing, I find that point nearly laughable. The people who violate lane discipline most often are the speeders. I can't imagine they're going to all of a sudden take "no overtaking on the right" to heart.

[1] All speeds in km/h, because, well, miles suck.
[2] I am not, in fact, a particularly sucky driver. Nor, for that matter, a particularly slow one.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:10 PM on July 23, 2003

For both of your points, jacquilynne, I refer again to the autobahn. If you always assume that the car in the lane to your left is faster than you, until you have positively ascertained otherwise, then you'll let him pass before you pull out to overtake. Wow. No collision.

As for speeders being the worst lane discipine violaters -- I'd dispute that fundamental assertion. If *slower traffic* would *keep right*, there would be no need to violate lane discipline. It's only because the left lane hogs don't realize that they're completely disrupting the normal flow of traffic that people driving faster have to violate lane discipline, in turn, to go around them.

Most of the serious accidents on the unlimited sections of the 'bahn are of the single-car sort, and caused by drivers exceeding their own limits, rather than the mayhem of not being able to pass safely that you fear.
posted by jammer at 12:37 PM on July 23, 2003

I used to pull my hair out, literally, in anger because I refused to pass on the right. I finally got sick of people doing 45 in the passing lane for no discernible reason, and pass in any damn lane I can. If people actually stayed the hell out of the passing lane except to pass (which I make a point to do), there woulnd't be near as much road rage.

What ever happened to flashing your lights to request that someone move over and let you pass? now it's responded to, universally, with the finger.
posted by notsnot at 1:20 PM on July 23, 2003

It's not just a question of faster, but how much faster. If I'm approaching a car going say, 10kmh slower than me, and there's another car going 10kmh faster than me a few hundred meters back, it's not unreasonable for me to get over into that lane. Because by the time that car catches me, I'll be very nearly past the guy I'm overtaking and ready to swing back into my own lane anyway. But if the car that's a few hundred meters back is going 50kmh faster than me, he's going to have to slow down a lot to avoid hitting me. So either I jump in his way and force him down to normal speeds or I stay where I am and I never get to pass. Because once I let him by, behind him, there's another car with same problem. It very rapidly creates a scenario where the leftmost lanes are effectively 'officially licensed high speed drivers' only lanes, and frankly, we just don't have enough lanes to go around now.

And that's all assuming I'm a good, and courteous driver who doesn't want to slow down and inconvenience the flow of traffic in the left lanes. Chances are, I'm not. The basic flaw in your plan is that it fails to recognize that outside of car commercials, driving is primarily about the interplay between your car and other cars, not your car and the road. Even if you're the best driver in the world, all that means is everyone else on Earth is worse than you. Letting you go faster than them just makes it more likely that they'll screw up in your path.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:38 PM on July 23, 2003

conspiracy theories aside, WTF is up with the commonly-used "55" speed limit?

Ah, kids today, they know no history.

55 mph used to be the highway limit on the interstates, and by dint of threatening to revoke highway funds, on state and local roads as well.

The argument-- which actually holds some water-- was that 55 mph was the best compromise between speed and fuel efficiency. It represented a minima on a graph of economy v. speed.

To assist drivers, speedometers had 55 mph prominently marked. If you check older cars, you'll see some marked in 10 mph increments starting at 5 mph (i.e., 5, 15, 25,35, etc.). Others marked by 10 mph starting at 0, and had an extra mark 55.

Gotta go take my Geritol now.
posted by Cerebus at 5:23 PM on July 23, 2003

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