How speed kills your pocket book
I live in the Vancouver area and recently viewed the video that takes a deep look at vehicle speeds, road safety, police ticketing, and how the media puts a spin on a story.
A major conclusion that is reached is that people drive with a speed that is reasonable for the road’s design, the weather and light conditions, and the capability of themselves and their vehicle. The only reason that the white speed limit signs play a role at all is because they are afraid of being ticketed. I have always been of the opinion that people are better off concentrating on the people and traffic around them, and having to watch their speed while looking out for the cops is dangerously distracting. While reading this you will notice that I also agree that speed kills your pocketbook.
A case for speed limits
As pointed out in the video, there are times where some of the speed limits make sense.
School zones, tight urban streets, narrow residential streets with children nearby, and downtown access routes with heavy rush hour congestion. Speed bumps are effective at this as well though.
It also makes sense that the speed limit could be higher for a dry road in day time, and then changed for nighttime, fog, rain, or other dangerous conditions. Say a speed limit of 130, 140, or 150 km/h on the freeway during a dry day, but dropping to 120 at night, 110 when wet, or 80 when it is foggy. You don’t have to have fancy digital signs to accomplish this – all it takes is some static signs and education.
Different roads need different limits
The example in the video is a perfect one. Marine Drive is a well engineered and constructed road. Three lanes in each direction, smooth surface, and wide curves – sounds like a 70 or 80 road right? Nope its speed limit is 50 km/h in Vancouver, exactly the same as many narrow, crowded routes heading to and from downtown. There is no comparison between the speeds I drive and my safety on the tow roads. I don’t remember driving under 70 on Marine, unless weather and traffic dictate that it would be smart to do so. But Main St is a different story, with cross roads, traffic lights, cross walks, merging busses, right turners, left turners, parallel parkers, pedestrians, and probably a dozen other road hazards. My speeds on this street vary from 30 to 60 for the most part – hitting 80 on here would be reckless unless it was closed off to the public as part of a movie set.
Perhaps different speeds for different vehicles is a part of the answer
I have worked hard in my life and am blessed to have purchased a nice car. I have also owned old pickup trucks, rented cheaper cars, and driven heavier shop vehicles.
There is no comparison between these vehicles when it comes to brakes and stopping distance, handling, tire quality, weight distribution, or all around effect on the safety of myself, my passengers, or drivers and pedestrians around me.
Why then, should I drive them at the same speed or have the same speed limit enforced. My sports sedan can stop in 1/2 or 1/3 of the distance that my old pickup or shop trucks can. Conversely I could probably drive 40km/h faster in my car than in the truck, and still stop in the same distance.
Some roads do have different speed limits for cars and transport trucks, and I applaud this. But these are typically on freeways where stopping distance is less of a worry than on city streets, biways, or highways. The practicality of different speeds for different vehicles is, admittedly, difficult to enact – but in this day of traffic police knowing everything about us from their laptops anyways, this is certainly worth discussing.
Are speeding fines just revenue generation for the police?
I can’t be the only one who thinks that some speed limits are enforced to help fill the gaps in police budgets. A sort of involuntary user funding. This is the most likely reason I can think of for the continued existence of the Marine Drive 50km/h zone. In fact, in the video you will see how the Vancouver Police Department brags about the number of people it catches on Marine Drive during speed blitzes. During the creator’s research, not a single car was going 50, in fact I believe that the average speed was around 70. So when then does it seem that the speed is more intensely enforced on Marine than on Main? Is it to dissuade speeders or is it to generate revenue? A police car sitting by the road is just as effective at slowing down cars if traffic safety is their real desire.
My opinions on speed and safe driving
I have lived and driven in Germany and other parts of the world. Travelling at 180 on the AutoBahn is not a big deal there. The cars are made for it, the drivers are trained and experienced with it, and the roads are properly designed and constructed. Oh and 180 is just a suggestion, some will drive at 150, some at 200. People drive within their ability, their car’s capability, the traffic, and the weather conditions. Signs slow people down when necessary, and this condition-induced limit is enforced. Did I mention that the accident and fatalilty rate is much lower there than here? The video presents the specifics figures – and they are significant. My personal experience is that I feel much safer on a two lane Autobahn at 170 than I don on the #1 or 401 at 120 – because I am paying attention to my driving, as are others, and none of us are bored out of our minds and daydreaming due to the artificially low speed for the driving conditions. In fact, I find that the only thing I am looking out for on those highways is a police car, because I really don’t feel like contributing to their slush fund.
Read the engineers’ speed recommendations, they are unilaterally more capable at setting them than politicians, civil servants, and others who just happen to find themselves in that position. The recommendation that I saw was to set the speed at the 85th percentile speed of a large sample group. Well I think that’s a reasonable place to start. Just try it and watch the results, debating and predicting does little compared to real world results. If the traffic is going to drive that speed anyways, then this is the prudent thing to do. If this equates to 70 on Marine, then so be it. In fact, removing the 50 signs and changing to 70 would increase the safety on the road, since it would limit the possibility of people driving 20km/h below the flow of traffic in fear of the police enforced driving tax. Irrationally slow traffic is one of the most dangerous obstacles that I encounter on the road – especially when they stay in the left lane. This causes other drivers to step on their brakes, pass on the right “undertake”, tailgate, or perform a number of other driving maneuvers that are much, much more dangerous that ‘speeding’
You can view the “Speed Kills You Pocketbook” video right here:
Interested in more?
In support of the movement to raise speed limits on some roads, there are education & petition websites for BC and Ontario – please visit them if you want to learn more or to let this voice be heard.
Sign the BC Petition
Sign the Ontario Petition
Do you have an opinion on speed limits? Have you received a ticket due to an unreasonable speed limit? Are police in your area hiding to try and catch ‘speeders’ just in the name of revenue generation? Or is your opinion different – I’d like to hear it as well. Please comment below.