Mike Beversluis

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I can't drive 55, or even 65, for that matter

No Respect for Speed Limits

When it comes to speeding, many American motorists don’t worry about safety. They just worry about getting caught.

Those are the findings by researchers from Purdue University who surveyed nearly 1,000 motorists about speed limits and driving habits. They found that many drivers are cynical about the safety benefits of driving within speed limits, and many think they can drive safely while speeding as long as they won’t get caught, according to the report in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour.

I often speed on the George Washington Parkway and I-270, where no one, meaning ZERO people, drives the speed limit. The speed limit on the GW Parkway between Alexandria and DC is 40 mph, but the traffic speed is around 50-55 mph, with the higher speed during the commuting hours when it is certain that there will be no speed traps. On 270, the speed limit is a 55 mph, and average traffic speeds during non-gridlock are around 70 mph, with 80 mph common enough. I tend to go with the flow, as driving at the speed limit would be dangerous due the speed differential between you and everyone else.

That said, I drive much slower at night, in strange places, or in bad weather, and I have not had a ticket in I can't recall how long. I think it was in 2002, when I was buzzing up 15 to get back to school, and I hit a speed trap along a lonely highway. That's the last one in 15 years.

There is, like our drug laws, a huge disconnect between what legislation can be passed, and what many people actually do. I suspect counter-intuitive road engineering to make roads seem much more difficult to drive would be better at reducing accidents, e.g., Roads Gone Wild.

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