This is likely false.
NYC changed the speed limit to 25 mph in Nov 2014. Pedestrian deaths have been sharply reduced:
At the same time pedestrian deaths in the US as a whole have increased:
The data is clear that lower speeds means accidents are less dangerous:
I don't think your interpretation about speed limits is correct compared to other factors mentioned in the nytimes article:
> more stringent enforcement of moving violations, revamping hundreds of street corners to slow down turning cars and rejiggering crossing signals to give pedestrians a head start.
For one, traffic in NYC just doesn't move that fast, especially on the streets where most of the accidents happened. It's not really appropriate to extrapolate NYC data to the rest of the United States unless you focus only on urban centers.
Second, almost all of the fatalities seem to happen around intersections. I'd expect to see more jay walking deaths in the years before the speed limit change if your interpretation was correct.
This is probably the biggest one. Lots of pedestrians and get hit by people turning right who can't see them until the last second because of other things on the street corner (like people waiting to cross in the other direction).
There are a few intersections in my city that are notorious for this; I have an extremely loud airhorn on my bike that I use to blast drivers who allow their vehicle to move forward without looking where it's going.
I no longer believe RTOR can be performed safely by the majority of drivers— it should be banned.
Having recently been teaching someone to drive, I have strongly encouraged them to not engage in right turns unless it is clearly safe and there is no on coming traffic. Better to wait a minute than to risk hitting someone. The problem is there parents feel differently, as do the drivers waiting behind us. If people were more patient drivers, less pedestrians (and drivers) would die.
My point though is that people do just fine without it.
I would like to be able wait for the light to change without feeling like I'm being an asshole to other drivers behind me.
All major pedestrian intersections should be "all walks," where a period of time is established where no cars may enter the intersection.
If you're turning right onto a road from a private residence, then you're probably only looking in the direction traffic is coming from. Someone biking the wrong way could easily be hit.
To slow down local neighborhood traffic my neighbors put out an old single construction cone (someone has a source of heavily used cones so when they're stolen no big deal) in the middle of the road.
Folks slow down and easily drive around it. It is highly effective even when it isn't there as I suspect the local speeder folks anticipate the random construction cone might be back at anytime...
2014 (2 months of 25mph) : 140 pedestrian fatalities
2015 139 pedestrian fatalities
2016: 148 pedestrian fatalities
For a limited-access road or grade-separated road (especially electronic toll roads), simply minimizing the speed difference between cars is enough.
For the pedestrian case, you want to minimize the speed difference between cars and pedestrians. Speed limits are only part of a plan to accomplish this goal -- instead, you want affordances that make people naturally drive slower: removing car lanes (replacing them with trees or sidewalk or protected bike lanes), narrower lanes, adding curves to the road (but without adding blind corners), adding pedestrian crossings, and so forth.
"The common US rule requiring speed limits to be set at 85% of actual average car speeds amounts to crowdsourcing the value of human life, on a platform where only motorists have a voice."
But in busier roadways, what I've observed is that slow drivers tend to be biggest danger now - and that is naturally because slow drivers tend to also be distracted drivers (by cellphones or otherwise). Naturally, such distraction is a bigger and bigger phenomena and dealing with them by making it clearer how they ought to drive seem OK.
Driving too fast results in more fatalities.
It might be nice to decrease both, but I know what I care more about reducing.
Devil's advocate, but crash fatality rates have been on a downward trend for decades.
Some safety features like automatic emergency braking, abs, stability control, and modern (more powerful) headlights protect pedestrians as well as drivers
Somewhat recently, many cars have been specifically designed to reduce injury when colliding with pedestrians, and these models have become more common in the 2014-2018 window.
I wouldn't completely discount the research, but the majority of the reduction could be that newer cars are simply safer for everyone
Also, your claim that it’s lower speed limits that reduced deaths seems not entirely honest - the articles say that there were more things that changed besides speed limits.
This suggests to me that to make roads safer, we might want to design them so that drivers feel they need to drive slower and more safely. Narrow the lanes where they are too wide, add roundabouts instead of multi-level exchanges, allow tighter curves. Especially useful for cities, since these changes would give back land for non-highway uses.
Anecdata: I live in DC with its notoriously bad traffic. The highways 395 and 495 have 4-6 lanes each and tons of traffic. On the other hand, the George Washington Parkway has just 2 lanes and carries a large volume of vehicles between 395 and 495, but has very little in the way of its own traffic (except in the event of an accident, of course). Traffic only really occurs on the GW at the junctions with 395 and 495 since the X95s don't have the capacity to receive all of the GW cars at-speed. Whereas the X95s will get random backups for seemingly no reason, and at all hours of the day, backups on the GW generally only occur at the ends.
The drivers in that game don't crash, and otherwise their behavior is greatly simplified, but each vehicle in that game has a start and a destination, and you can follow delivery trucks as they deliver packages and then go back to the Depot to pick up more. It's very fascinating, and may offer us some small window into the kinds of things that traffic engineers deal with without trying to find or write traffic simulation software.
And, of course, there are mods to give the player (the Mayor) greater control over lane usage and where stop signs and traffic lights are placed and how they operate. Doing things wrong will quickly result in localized gridlock.
Of course having every vehicle continually recalculate and optimize its path is computationally prohibitive. Given the limitations it does a pretty good job, though!
That said, there is a non-zero percentage of human drivers that do the same pre-calculated route and lane selection.
As for parkways, the better flow is because they don't allow trucks. Variance in the speed of cars is what causes traffic. Obviously this is true at on/off ramps. There is no way X95 can take two lanes of high-speed flow of cars into their already packed flow. For parkways with a lot more hills, you can still get slowdowns but these happen almost exclusively just before big hills and at exits to bigger highways (and occasionally at busy on ramps with short merge areas).
It feels like a hawks and doves style ESS (evolutionary stable strategy) problem. It appears to me that the strategy that eliminates the overall negative affect for the group (avoid creating phantom stop signs, by gapping or "always in the middle" strategies) is necessarily unstable.
The benefit to any single driver who does not follow that rule becomes increasingly high as more and more others do follow the rule. Even to the point of ignoring a beeping car I should think. I certainly feel the negative effect driving behind someone who creates a gap as more and more cars merge in front of them. In the pathological case the driver who insists on a safe interval between cars will make no progress at all.
1: (CGP Grey) https://youtu.be/iHzzSao6ypE
Of course you must maintain speed. The point of a gap is to allow for adjustments without the hard breaking that would create a phantom stop sign. That is the overall intent of the system. Move the most people as expediently as is safe from point a to point b. The best way to do this is to avoid speed differentials, being slower then ambient traffic speed creates a speed differential.
This is more of a thought experiment to show that you never have to keep slowing down to zero even if for some reason people continually enter your gap. I barely observe people entering my gap at all in practice, because all lanes are generally going the same speed so there's no benefit to it.
That lowers the throughput (number of cars that complete a trip in your lane) by ~ 10%. Also, the faster lane is now probably moving closer to your speed behind you than the 50mph you observe (because you are causing cars going 45mph to cut off cars going 50mph that lane).
The arrival rate of cars won’t change because you chose to go slow. So, if the road can handle 10,000 cars per unit time with normal congestion, it can now handle ~ 9000. That means per unit time, there are 1000 new cars sitting in the stop and go backlog that you single handedly created by creating the gap.
This has been shown time and time by traffic simulations. It only takes a small handful of slow drivers to create massive backups.
Also, the number of traffic fatalities is proportional to the difference in speed between the fastest and slowest car, so, statistically speaking, by being the slowest car, you are murdering people.
With the pathological case being so benign, the real life experience is even better. You might get a car moving in front of you once a minute, and usually a few seconds of slower accelerating or coasting is all you need.
To me the thing that really slows down traffic is people not moving left to let onramps merge. I think that's because they are afraid of missing their exit because no one is leaving gaps.
I just drove a Ford Edge that had this. It is a little overeager about what it thinks is an impending collision, but it works alright.
The adaptive cruise control is a mess though. In theory, it is supposed to match your speed to the vehicle ahead if they are slower, so you don't have to pay attention. In practoce, it has the potential to be a great contributor to congestion. With dumb cruise control, you can push slowpokes to get out of the way or at least speed up; the adaptive cruise control seems to match speed at a distance where the driver ahead doesn't get the signal that they are obstructing things, and they continue bumbling along.
Further down in the Wikipedia article is an actual example.
Making the road appear more dangerous than it really is makes people slow down and pay attention, without the uptick in danger of an actual hazard.
what we need is red camera* at every light and speed trap at every road, only the fear of enforcement keep people honest
*minus the whole shorten yellows for profit, of course
but ok, nice slippery slope, I guess.
I'm not trying to say that once we introduce methods to fully detect some types of law infractions it will inevitably lead to a totalitarian regime.
But I believe some leeway is necessary for people to feel comfortable and somewhat free. I don't want to be punished every time I make a mistake. I think you can find some sweet spot between zero and total detection. And yeah, probably leaning towards the latter, in correlation with seriousness of a violation (optimal discoverability reaching zero rather means the law should be revoked, like jaywalking being penalized in my country imho).
Also, how would you even know some law is optimal when no one violates it? I mean, we could put radars on every road and set the limit on 30 kph. The studies discussed in the article wouldn't be possible then.
> I'm not arguing about every single law, only those that have impact on the leading cause of death beyond health issues in the civilized world
Definitely speed is the factor. But what about other variables at play like road quality, intersections planning, lights, other traffic regulations? And if tweaking them actually lowered casualties equally well with better economical outcome?
> only the fear of enforcement keep people honest
As for a slippery slope. You vastly generalized your statement yourself tbh.
Was too busy to cite sources at the time, but for posterity:
anecdote about the opposite happening:
There is the I90 tunnel in Seattle which I use very often. Some passages have 2 lanes, super narrow, no shoulder, nothing. Looks like this: https://goo.gl/maps/DzvhWZAoD5AkRVwA9
You won't believe how fast people are going through that. Also, almost every time I get tailgated and I'm frankly amazed there hasn't been any major accidents in that tunnel considering how close people are driving (no following distance). Just yesterday I was tailgated by somebody on their phone (I could see the screen reflected in his face while he was texting). I don't want to imagine how an accident would look like in that tunnel. Honestly, a fender bender can become catastrophic before you realize what happened.
Now if you mean 'narrowing' roads then probably yeah. Take a wide-ass lane and suddenly make it narrow (so that people using it every day are 'surprised' and they're more careful) and I could agree with you.
It also can look pretty nice when they use flower beds and trees for the narrowing:
Many of the topics discussed in the comments I see here are discussed in the book.
Result (people not being familiar with roundabouts doesn't help): people stop in the middle of going around the roundabout, and/or get honked at by the people coming from the 2 directions without stop signs. I'm sure an accident is coming soon :(
they are islands in the middle of the intersection, but not roundabouts, forcing cars to "swerve" to pass through
they haven't worked as intended and are being re-evaluated
However, they're much, much worse for people walking and cycling.
For example, the roundabouts in my city (Kitchener ON) all have a sidewalk or multi-use trail crossing each vehicle entrance and exit, and without fail, every single crossing is marked with a paint ladder, stopping teeth, and a "Yield to Pedestrians" sign. I've also confirmed with city engineers and law enforcement that people walking are supposed to have right of way at these crossings— like, you're waiting to cross, and drivers see you and stop, and remain stopped until you're fully off the roadway.
But it's not like that at all. I have dozens of helmet cam videos of me walking my bike through these crossings and being buzzed by cars who don't see me at all, or don't see me until it's too late, or see me but don't think they need to stop for me. I send these videos (many with clearly visible license plate numbers) to the local media and contacts I have at regional police, and I get a collective shrug back.
I met with city engineers in the winter to ask whether they thought it was safe, and they said that yield compliance to roundabout crosswalks was 70-90%. They said this like it was a good thing. Literally one in ten cars doesn't stop for a person walking in a marked crosswalk, and that's somehow acceptable.
I'm not sure how to change a culture, but camping some cruisers there for a week and handing out a few hundred tickets for $1000 each  to non-yielding drivers sure would be a great start.
If you build a 50 MPH road through a neighborhood, you're going to get 50 MPH traffic through a neighborhood.
What the signs say is irrelevant unless there's a cop right there.
If you want slow traffic, build slow roads.
Likewise, if you build your house on a fast road, don't expect traffic to slow down just because your kids are there.
In fact, what has happened is that average fire truck size in the US is much larger than in Europe, and that is what drives the requirement for wider streets. https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/12/fire-trucks-e...
Nevertheless we have a heated debate were many very loud votes in the media demand a speed limit of 120 or even 100kph. Because that is obviously necessary and everything else is stupid.
Now, while there are certainly many more or less valid arguments for a speed limit, I have never heard anyone arguing about the number. The verocity of the debate is contrasted by a total lack of arguments for or against a specific limit. Why 120 and not 130 or 90. What about 160?
To me it looks like there are many people either offended by or incapable of dealing with other people making different choices. The whole debate seems to be a way to force others into coercion and the actual limit is chosen to coerce as many people as possible.
So in Germany the debate seems to target at the complete opposite to define a speed limit at the 15th percentile. That's an intriguing observation. And rather typical for us, tbh.
One thing that would reduce the number of crashes in the US is making tailgating and passing lane camping a heavy infraction. To drive safely is to anticipate conditions and expectations.
I would also support 10 year renewal testing before age 65, as bad habits quickly become routine. Shorter intervals thereafter.
Designing our cities around the automobile was one of the worst mistakes this country made.
Like, they are designed to function 24x7x365 for years and decades on end, because they have a much deeper and thicker roadbed, and much better irrigation and runoff control.
Part of this is because the road maintenance costs are built into the initial build cost, and any further maintenance in the future has to be done for free, at the cost of the road builder. And to the standards required by law. Since no road builder wants to ever have to pay for any future repairs, they seriously engineer the heck out of the roads to begin with.
Here in the US, repairs to roads are a profit center. So, of course road builders are going to make them as cheap and cheesy as possible, so that they can cash in on all that great guaranteed future income from all the repairs they're going to have to make in the next few weeks, months, and years.
You could ask the same question for basically every other limit. Why is the speed limit in cities usually 50 and not 40 or 60? Why do you need to be at least 18 years old to have the right vote, why not 17 or 19, ...?
In the end most of those limits aren't determined by a single argument but by many. Speed limits have to take into account the road quality, the traffic density, the kind of vehicles sharing the same road, how many pedestrians are around, environmental aspects like wind speeds, ... You also don't want vehicles with huge differences in speed.
The later is my favorite argument against the missing speed limit on parts of the German Autobahn. You can have everything between stopped vehicles in a traffic jam, a tractor with 60km/h, trucks at 100km/h or less when they struggle with inclines, the average cars at around 130km/h, the business people rushing from one place to the other at 160-220km/h and those who just like to have some fun with their sports cars or bikes at >200km/h with no limit.
Of course I have no idea what the best limit should be in every case, instead I suggest to figure this out with lots of experiments. Introduce certain speed limits on certain parts and find out what an effect this has on the number of accidents, traffic jams, efficiency, noise, etc... Then the speed limit can be adapted according to those results.
This observation applies to a hell of a lot of things.
i really wish people would heed this rule about slower cars staying to the right (regadless of speed). if you are not passing the car to your right, you should move to the right until you are, but many people scoot to the left lane and set their cruise control so they can zone out (and possibly occupy their brains with something else like talking to other people).
this would not only minimize speed deltas and reduce accidents, but it would also improve throughput as speedier traffic clears out faster. and drivers should never just zone out while operating a machine capable of killing people.
in any case, i both agree with the article--i actually think speed limits should be accurately set at the 85th percentile, called "suggested speed" or the like, and decriminalized--and support traffic calming measures in urban areas like narrowing lanes, adding more trees/curves, and making commercial streets mixed use by default.
French drivers will mercilessly tailgate and flash their lights at you if you're driving too slow on multi-lane roads. They live by the rule to be as far to the right as your preferred top speed allows, no matter your actual speed in KPH or the speed limit, so that faster cars can be on the left. (How it is supposed to work in the states.)
Even if you're doing an easy 145KPH (90 MPH) and you're in the far left lane and another car is approaching faster, you are 100% expected to move to the right and allow them to maintain their illegal speed. I absolutely love their driving behavior.
Alternatively, "keep left lane open for passing", which I have seen on overhead electronic signs on 400-series freeways in Ontario.
Marines notwithstanding, people tend to be okay with being slower in the high desert area of Southern California.
What happens is all the slow traffic (-5 to +2 of speed limit) doesn't want to deal with the absurd number of on-ramps (12 in 13 miles!) so they move to the middle lane. Then the moderately faster cars (+2 to +7 of the speed limit) pass on the left. Then you get all the people that want to go faster and they go to the right lane and then cut across to the left when cars are merging.
My logic is that if there are 3 or more lanes, the furthest right lane should be for getting on or off only, further left is for fast long-distance driving, and the slowest lane should be second-from-the-right.
I do not see how it makes sense to encourage slower drivers to take the far right lane in this scenario. It is actually pretty dangerous for people trying to merge on to have the right lane heavily occupied.
However, indeed the counterargument is that this leads to a lot of lane swapping when people get on and want to cross over to the far left to travel, and then all the way back over to the right when they want to get off. Especially since speed of travel is not necessarily related to whether the car is making a short or long trip on the highway.
The real question, I think, is what should a fast driver do if they get onto a highway, and are planning to get off in 1-2 miles. Should they bother crossing over to the left or stay in the right lane?
That is why I think people should not get in the right lane on a highway unless they are about to get off.
although i believe the biggest cause of accidents is distracted driving (which is hard to correct, short of culture change), i'd still support raising the overall technical skill of driving in the population through a variety of means: more training (defensive and offensive driving), simulation (video games? competitions?), stricter testing, differential licensing, etc. maybe then everyone would know how to speed up and slow down to merge properly and the right lane wouldn't be so unnatractive.
Driving is a lot easier and less stressful if you're going faster than everyone else. You really only have to worry about the stuff in front of you that you see all the time, and as soon as you pass someone they are no longer a concern.
Similarly it takes a lot more attention if everyone is going faster than you. So there's always an incentive for each individual to speed up a little.
If you're going slightly slower, you can just stay in your lane and cruise. Cars occasionally pass you, but that's it. It's way less stressful.
Plus there's always someone going faster than you, no matter how fast you go.
There are actual studies on this stuff based on the changes in U.S. federal speed limit rules in the 70s and then again in the 90s. They are not conclusive but do suggest that higher speed limits lead to more fatalities: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Maximum_Speed_Law#Saf...
More people died in Montana after they were forced to put real speed limits on the roads, with police enforcement: https://www.motorists.org/press/montana-no-speed-limit-safet...
The German autobahns are extremely safe compared to their other roads. The US interstate system can easily support "Reasonable speed limits" on most of their roads - its flat and straight.
These studies don't take into consideration what actually happens when some people decide to follow the law and some people decide to travel at the road's natural speed. That delta is the cause of so many accidents.
55 was a response to the oil crisis but it also reflected automobile engineering of the time.
Most of today's cars are significantly less massive even if their size is larger.
Similar-sized cars are probably lighter nowadays, but the overwhelming shift towards SUVs holds back the average mass.
Now I'm misty-eyed, thinking of my beautiful LTD... a completely inappropriate car in 2019, but so much fun to drive.
Isn’t this a function of wind resistance physics that can’t be solved, just mitigated?
As driving automation increases and the threat of climate change and CO2 emissions looms larger, automated cars could drive at current speed limits without getting impatient like a human driver, improving both efficiency and safety.
Isn’t this a function of wind resistance physics that can’t be solved, just mitigated?
Eventually air friction is the completely dominant force. So at highway speeds, absent some rare gearing issues causing inefficient fueling, faster means less efficient.
This is also why the fastest "hypercars" are pushing on order of 1000 hp.
At lower speeds, all sorts of other issues kick in (and idling is its own issue)
The RUF (Porsche) needs 460hp to break 213mph. The next record breaker needs 618hp to break 221mph. The 241mph record is made with 806hp. This continues incrementally until the current record holder, which needs 1350hp to hit 278mph.
It took three times as much power and three decades of computational advancement to build a car that could go a mere 65mph faster than the 1983 record breaker.
Side note: the listed horsepower numbers before 1980s are basically made up. You can safely assume SAE J2723 horsepower (what cars use today) is ~60-75% of published value for cars older than 1980 (and about ~80-95% for cars between 1980 and 2005).
But it only matters on highway where the bottleneck is due to aerodynamism, at lower speed you might be less efficient at 20mph than 30mph for example.
If we move to a more infrastructure style car transport where you just subscribe or have access to (depending on where we end up on the public-private spectrum) there's probably a lot of gains we can still make that will make cars much uglier (to our current eyes) but more aerodynamic.
If I hit a hard barrier, I'd prefer that the car break and disintegrate and dissipate all that energy, as opposed to transferring all that energy into me as the occupant.
The reality is that "being tough on crime" and "doing something" are political points, and the use of a ticket system generates revenue. If it were law that all funds related to minor traffic infractions had to be donated to charity (without counting for taxes) you'd see a MAJOR decrease in enforcement.
If the speed limit is below that natural speed, you end up with most drivers going faster while the few follow the absurd rule.
The above is a failure of engineering. It has been well studied in academics, but few actually account for it.
I'm not arguing against raising the speed limit to the natural speed. I'm against blaming (and tailgating and generally harassing) drivers who are following the speed limit because they don't want to have to pay a fine. It seems like the blame is misplaced.
Usually because the perceived (and even the actual) danger of driving at higher speeds is minimal. A great example that I've seen is an access-controlled highway built to modern safety standards limited to 55mph, when the highway is designed to safely support upwards of 80mph.
More, increased speeds increase the carrying capacity of a highway; that is, more cars can utilize the highway in a given time period - like rush hour.
The rule of thumb is to stay ~2 seconds behind the car in front, which means the distance obviously increases linearly with speed. If you're 75 feet back at 30mph, you should be 150ft back at 60mph.
Basically to go from 60-55, 55-50, etc. takes the same amount of time, but you're traveling faster and therefore covering more distance throughout the course of the former intervals than the latter ones.
Reasons for the discrepancy between Berlin and Poland is in mentality for sure. But I think that more roads are really set for the speed limit in Berlin than in Polish cities I know. So you can drive faster, but you will just be first on the red light. As they say: slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
It certainly helps that the Autobahn network have nice stretches without speed limits. I feel that car in Berlin is really just to go to the highway and not to move through the city itself. The limits just picture the priority of public transport and bicycles in city planning.
What's funny is that I like to drive more in Berlin than in Poland. It's smoother and drivers seem more used to interruptions. Even though I still drive more in Poland and don't really need a car in Berlin. However parking is pain in whichever country I am.
Just changing the sign doesn't make people drive slower, but if you actually enforced those speed limits people would slow down and pedestrians would stop dying. Traffic calming may be a cheaper way of slowing people down than enforcement.
...but doesn't take the next step to point out that in our era of reducing climate emissions it might make sense to drive a little slower if you're not in a hurry to get there.
Owning an electric car makes it very obvious how much smaller your range is when you drive 70-75mph than it is when you drive 50-55mph.
I'm sure people will respond to point out that these kinds of individual choices about behavior are noise in the fight against climate change. But maybe you're arguing for a renewed 55mph speed limit, then?
I got optimal fuel consumption in my Acura CL at an average speed of about 65 MPH. That maximal efficiency point varies from vehicle to vehicle, particularly across different vehicle classes.
But as others have mentioned the means of getting people to drive slower or more safely or more efficiently may not be limited to the numbers on the sign.
I started driving more or less recently and my town has several speedtraps, and they make me unsafer, becuase I am not used to driving a lot yet, I tend to respect speed limit all times, because I don't know where the speedtraps are, this has some consequences:
1. LOTS of honking when I am 5kph slower than the limit...
2. Because of the point 1, I tend to stick to the limit, this mean I am often looking at my speedometer instead of the road, and almost crashed because of this more than once.
3. Often I am overtaken in ridiculously crazy ways, like people overtaking in the opposite direction lane, or during corners, or more than once motorbikes overtaking me using the gutter, passing between my car and the sidewalk.
4. Also a couple times I almost crashed on the rear of experienced drivers that were speeding and I don't noticed, andwent along with the flow, only for them to suddenly slam on brakes right before the speedtraps (only to just as suddenly accelerate again right after them).
5. Often lanes end with strange speed discrepancies, sometimes in unsafe situations, for example there is a one-way road in my town that is in a steep hill that has a curve toward the right, often the left lane is full of people trying to overtake the entire right lane that is following speed limit, and the railings on the outer side of that curve are full of marks of people grinding on them.
I've seen once a group of 10 or so cars that were speeding slightly try to overtake a car that was following speed limit only for the first one of the group to crash on the rear of a bus that was on a bus stop when he tried to overtake from the right side (the other 9 or so cars squeezed themselves between the crash and the cars that stopped on the left lane while braking... lots of screeching).
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14196812 (2 years ago, 725 comments)
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8133103 (5 years ago, 207 comments)
On highways, it doesn't matter. Survivability between 65 and 75 or even 85 is not that much different. You're going to have a really bad day regardless of speed. Far more important is longer ramps, higher vehicle inspection standards, and higher licensing standards. We also need to get long-haul shipping off the roads and back on the rails.
In my city, the default speed limit for city streets was 30mph. Safety advocates lobbied for and achieved lowering that limit to 25mph.
The goal was not that cars would immediately all start driving 5mph slower, but rather to direct the city's traffic engineers to start designing the street layout to lower the 85th percentile speed by about from 30mph to 25mph.
Today (and this started about 4 years ago) you do the same search in google and you only find articles about how slow some people drive in Portland and that they are a nuisance to be removed.
I'm also certain that if one day every driver made nothing but legal driving maneuvers, the world would shut down before lunch.
You know what doesn't have a _small_ correlation? Speeding and efficiency. Above 60mph almost any car lose an insane amount of efficiency due to aerodynamic drag.
I'm all for raising the speed limit but we should get rid of ICE before doing so.
Here's a personal experience: driving in Belgium, the Netherlands or any other country with limits is much more pleasant than driving on German motorways, where you have 40-50% of roads with no limit whatsoever. The high limit means even as drivers tend to be much better trained than in most other countries I've driven, German traffic is unpredictable. You'll overtake a truck driving 90kmh, while yourself driving 130kmh (advised speed) and someone comes up behind you with >170kmh. Changing lanes is much more stressful than eg Belgium which has pretty bad drivers, but they all stick close to the limit of 120kmh, meaning flow of motorway traffic is much more steady.
If the issue really were that drivers don't stick to the limit - enforcement is the answer. Increasing limits does not improve safety on its own.
Last few months I drive to work on the Germany motorway, and what I can see so far is terrifying. Not fast drivers are the problem but the poor and ashole drivers:
- Poor drivers: Me 140/160 km/h, other 120 km/h, and suddenly he/she is changing the lane (to overtake another car ofc), no blinker (you honk at them and they show you the middle finger), nothing! Or switching the lane when when there is not enough space. Jeeez, no! Because you annoyed to drive 117 km/h behind the truck, don't put others in danger. Not everybody in Germany drives 170 km/h or more. So there will be place for you as well, just wait some seconds. Or predict, you see the slow truck in advance, change lane a bit earlier, or show blinker earlier (I always slow down I you give me enough time). Ah, and damn left lane lovers. You overtake them from the right (although you shouldn't) and then they realise "oh shit, I should be in the right one".
- Ashole drivers: Driving bumper to bumper even with high speeds, or swaying left to right just to how "hey, I'm behind you" and make a pressure on you.
To summarise, after driving in Germany for 8 years, I love it. I like the discipline although on the motorways is getting worse imho. I'm assuming because of immigration from other countries which don't have good driving habits.
For me unpleasant was driving on motorways in San Francisco area (madness, and not just because of number of lanes), but I was there only for a few days, so maybe my impression is wrong.
I can't think of any problem with our traffic system that is bad enough to make your solution desirable. Not traffic deaths, arbitrary enforcement, efficiency... nothing.
I encourage you to mitigate it. Drive less; that's a great way to mitigate your risk.
Emotionally, I don't feel as strongly that I have a right to not be tracked when I got out in public as I do that I have a right to equal enforcement. The former seems like a detail of how law enforcement is carried out, the latter seems like a key difference between law and tyranny.
Bumps, parked spots, narrowings and removal of (dividing) lines/road markings are used to bring the traffic back to its intended speed.
In town, 40 mph, if your caught speeding your car is impounded. Highway, speed limit, 120mph. If your speeding, your car is impounded.
120 MPH is pretty reasonable for most interstate-class highways outside of cities though.
I've actually seen cars slow-down when moving from the 25MPH zone to the 45MPH zone due to the greatly reduced shoulder area in the 45MPH zone, but most cars go about 35-40MPH on both sections.
Make roads safer, make rules less arbitrary and more respected.
And there are other deleterious effects of 120mph. > 100 and most consumer tires are at their brink. Similarly, there is a lack of the average vehicle to accelerate quickly beyond 80.
Agreed. The minimum speed for interstate-class highways should be 60 MPH. If you can't do 60, take the country roads.
> And there are other deleterious effects of 120mph. > 100 and most consumer tires are at their brink. Similarly, there is a lack of the average vehicle to accelerate quickly beyond 80.
This is why highways have multiple lanes. Slower traffic to the outside, faster traffic to the inside. If your vehicle isn't capable of keeping up with the fastest traffic, stay to the outside.
Unfortunately Americans in particular are horrible at lane discipline, something I believe is aggravated by speed limits being too low so there's a subset of idiots who take it upon themselves to be speed enforcement and drive slowly in the passing lane.
For a while I would come up across a large number of vehicles inexplicably stacked in the left lane, with a huge gap on the right lane. Younger me would zoom up the gap and inevitably find a semi truck and someone passing it very slowly, and the left lane would close ranks because they thought I was a dick. Older me just stays in the left lane.
edit: I'll move to the right when it's so obviously clear that I won't have to move back to the left. But it's really tedious to be weaving across the road with regularity to maintain a strict adherence to the keep right law.
I agree that an 80mph delta is a little much though.
The current system teaches us that the speed limit is actually a suggested speed, and no big deal to break by 5 or 10 mph. It's a stupid system designed for revenue, not safety.
The speed limits aren't too low, the roads are improperly designed for the speed limits that they have.