That's such a horrifying statistic if true. Even at their peak, homicide offending rates in the US were at around 20 per 100,000; assault rates about 10 times as high: http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf
Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way, but in my mind I'm comparing 20 homicides per 100,000 citizens to to 21 people killed/maimed by a group that is orders of magnitude smaller: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Police_Department
I think this is just another reminder that Bruce Schneier is right when he says we should be more worried about car accidents than terrorism.
Did anyone really believe that taking a job as a police officer somehow suppressed these people's natural desire to drive fast? Hell, that's probably what make them join the force in the first place. Sure, it's irresponsible and illegal for off-duty officers to speed, but it's also irresponsible and illegal for regular citizens to speed, and yet that doesn't seem to stop them from doing it. Why would you expect the cops to be any different? Do you hold them to a higher level of moral responsibility during their off time because of what they do for a living?
Being a police officer is a job. Unless you wanna have robots do it instead, people are going to do what people are going to do.
a) A higher standard? Sure. I suppose I'm extremely naive, but if you spend your day punishing people for doing X, I think you should have an appreciation for why you shouldn't be doing X or at least be a role model for not doing X.
b) I actually wouldn't guess that, among the general populace, the majority of people regularly speed at 90-130. Again, that's probably naive. I drive like an elderly person, so I may be biased.
Regarding speeding, I don't see how the current system can hold up under technological advances. There are a dozen trivial ways to tell if someone is speeding, from the toll booth data of the original article to cell phone GPS to computer vision to road sensors to smart cars. It doesn't make sense for the police to perform inefficient, dangerous traffic stops when all this data is available, but the system would collapse if everyone received 10 traffic tickets a day.
I agree with your sentiment. But please bear in mind, that the profit per radar gun would probably go down, if enforcement was less sporadic.
But it does provide a way to pick-and-choose when enforcing laws.
That said, while people may complain about particular speed limits, I don't think very many would call a cap somewhere below 120mph "unjust".
Plus there's the issue of driver's ability as well. Can you look in your side mirror and successfully gauge the speed of the car that's a good distance behind you to know whether you can safely change lanes? If the car is going at a known max speed, of which you are probably aware of as you are likely at that speed yourself, then you can change but if the car is going two to three times faster than you I would imagine changing lanes would be a bad idea.
Also, how would the police be able to judge the things you describe looking at your car driving by at 120 MPH while everyone else is driving in the 80s? The officer would have to constantly be pulling these people over to check their "licensed to speed" status. How would the officer be able to judge the conditions of your car as you breeze by? Sticker on the bumper? Better be a huge freaking sticker when you are flying through traffic.
Speed limits are decided upon on the safety of most cars for the general area and expectations of traffic conditions, not the capabilities of the cars or drivers on the road.
However, there is one common case where the speeding law seems unnecessary at best. I live in Texas. Florida is similar in that there can be large stretches of empty highway. When I travel outside the city there is often very little traffic and very open country. If I can see for a mile and I am the only one out there, why shouldn't I travel at the fastest speed I can manage safely? In the city speeding rarely pays off, what with traffic and traffic controls. On a trip of 200 miles (Austin to Dallas for example) the difference between an average speed of 60 m/hr and 90 m/hr is an hour of travel. It seems wrong that I should be limited in this situation because an 18-wheeler cannot handle more than 60 or 70 safely. Worse is when you have small towns that drop the speed limit to 55 or 45 for a tiny stretch of road when the road does not even go through the town. That kind of speed trap is what angers people, especially when you see an officer blow through with impunity.
There are examples of US interstates with no speed limits within, to some people, reasonable limits:
They even discuss how in some cases fatalities go up with new road laws and speed limits.
I have driven that stretch of road between Austin and Dallas as I live in the Dallas area. I have also lived in Florida with it's stretches of long, boring roads. Plus, I've lived in Vegas with that incredibly boring route into Los Angeles. In every case I would agree with you that the idea of being able to go a bit faster would have been nice.
But the question that will come up is how do you determine the maximum speed that you can safely manage? What if your assessment of your max speed differs with that of the police officer who witnesses what he feels is a dangerous amount of speed? What about other people on the road that you will eventually come across that can't handle the situation that you present if you decide that the person can handle a speed that in truth they cannot? I'm sure you're thinking you'll just slow down when you see someone but you cannot foresee the possibilities plus your reaction time dwindles quite effectively the faster you go. A mile at 60 MPH is one thing, a mile at 120 MPH is another.
My example against this, which is interesting considering the topic of this thread, is when I was in Vegas an off-duty cop was speeding (I forget how much but in excess of 100 MPH) on one of the interstates outside of the main part of town and rear-ended a family in their car. The resulting accident killed a number of them including children. Therefore, I personally don't like the idea of a free-for-all on the interstate where different cars can drive at different speeds based on criteria that will be different for each individual driver and car. I would rather we all agree on a maximum speed that makes sense for the conditions of the road and expected traffic. Now if a road has too slow of a speed limit for the typical conditions of that road, then that is a different discussion.
(Ok, that's downtown Austin; how about this one:
How can we expect them to investigate abuse of position if they are abusing their position?
Yes! Of course! Being an officer may be 'just a job', but in practice the hat doesn't come off. Which is the entire point - police officers occupy a particular position in society regardless of whether or not they're wearing a badge at the moment.
That's not the same thing as saying that I'm surprised that they're still human, though.
> Unless you wanna have robots do it instead
Not really. It's been shown time and again that greedy authorities will compromise on public safety to optimize profit. And, machines tend to have no discretion. Nor is any applied by the authorities. If you show up to an intersection at two am, with nobody in sight, stop, look and proceed safely through a red light, you get the same citation that some jerk gets who blows through on a busy day.
This a feature, that protects and racism and classism.
You've got a point.
Meh, I'm not so sure about that one, and really, in both cases it depends where the machines are sited.
This. If we believe that people will tend to behave in accordance with their incentives (and we all do, because we're all good capitalists here) then this is a virtual certainty.
Cops get paid X per year. So, all things being equal, some number of people who think it is worthwhile to do the job for X per year will sign up. A few will take the job because they want to help people, so they are willing to work for less than they would at some other job. At the same time, and in the same vein, a few will take the job because it allows them "perks" like hurting people and generally breaking the law without consequence. This is why it is so, so important to hold police to a higher standard, because in the long run we want more of the "want to help people" type and fewer of the "want to break the law" type.
Do you hold them to a higher level of moral responsibility during their off time because of what they do for a living?
In a word, yes! I expect a judge to engage in ethical behaviour when not behind the bench, a politician to tell the truth (as laughable as that is) and so on. Sure, cops are human but they should also know that by virtue of their position they are much more visible than the ordinary citizen and act accordingly. Surely you can see the hypocrisy of a cop giving tickets for speeding when they get away with the very same behaviour. Maybe I'm old fashioned, I think cops should not be able to say "Do as I say, not as I do."
Only if they get "professional courtesy" every time they get pulled over, unlike the rest of us that get traffic tickets.
If you can't tell the difference between cause and condition, you may keep silent. No one is forcing you to participate in the discussion.
My point was, that in a large proportion of the accidents where people are killed and where drivers are speeding, people state that that it was the drivers inattention that caused the accident, and not the speed they were going. They use this to suggest that we should not prosecute speeding.
While this is technically true, (one of) the reason that we impose speed limits is that an accident caused by, e.g., inattention or mistake is turned from a fender-bender into a fatal accident by high speed.
Even the best drivers make mistakes from time to time, we have a right not to have that mistake turn into a fatal accident by someone speeding.
A particular crosswalk in my city was a dark spot, accident wise. A common accident spot, resulting in deaths. Speed traps were, for years, commonly placed in the street, treating, I assume, the perceived cause of the accidents. Speed bumps followed. Years go by, accident rates don't go down. Then, finally specific street lighting is setup on the crosswalk: problem solved. The cause was not excess speed, but night visibility of the crosswalk.
One of the worst mountain roads in Portugal, IP4, was for years considered plagued by speeding. Lots of police cruisers, both marked and stealth, patrolled the road, enforcing limits. Static speed traps the ensued. Accident rates stubbornly wouldn't go down. Then, finally, a brilliant mind decided to place plastic lane barriers preventing overtaking in prohibited zones. Problem solved! Speed was not the cause, dangerous overtake maneuvers were.
Speed is an easy target. As such, it's a dangerous default as accident cause.
That's how the number on the sign relates.
I have talked to a lot of state patrolmen in CA and WA (USA) and they were cured of using their awesome driving schools for personal advantage after coming up on their first gruesome accident. Especially if said involved children.
People tend to think they're "exceptional" in some way, though, and will dismiss the risk by thinking that they are better trained and more aware of the factors that lead to accidents.
You should also try to find the vehicular death per 100k statistic.
It's all about the division at this point. How many cops were there in that region? If it's just Miami-Dade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami-Dade_Police_Department
soooo.... 3 * (100/3) = 100 deaths per 100k of police population.
Which is 8x the normal rate. It's bad, but it's not too outrageous.
Similarly, deaths per 100k is the rate of victimisation amongst the population. Deaths per number of officers is a rate of offending, not victimisation.
What more evidence do you want of it's truth? The story's right there. you can see how they reported it. The data is searchable.
Technically, couldn't this be 799 guys who meant to go 85 but drifted up to 90 and one jerk who went 130?
And we should be more worried about the "watchers" than the "watched".
doesn't terrorism scale better, though?
It's only when something major happens that people take notice, like someone putting together this report, now all of a sudden it's a new trend that's way to prevalent as of late. :P
It sounds like no police officers were fired as a result of this investigation.
120 MPH was almost double the speed limit (65 MPH) and as the data shows it was a routine. The data shows only average times, so who knows what his top speed was (he was "only" averaging 95 the day he got busted for going 120).
He was very frequently averaging speeds that constitute reckless driving. He's lucky he just got fired, his license should be suspended for a long period of time just like it would be for anyone else that wasn't a cop.
21 maimed or killed.
I really think this is more than a little bit of middle of the night speeding.
That said, I don't think that actions outside of work necessarily should mean someone is fired. Using your badge to attempt to get out of trouble, or stating that you feel that speeding is your 'right' (on-duty or off-duty) just because you are a cop, on the other hand...
Expect your ticket in the mail, while legislation is passed that prevents cops from being held accountable.
The first is that significant speed differentials are extremely dangerous. Uncalibrated speedometers are very common and very inaccurate. Anything that causes guaranteed enforcement is going to reduce safety because people will start religiously following their speedometer instead of the normal flow of traffic, so now you have people driving all different speeds than one another based on how badly and in which direction their speedometer is miscalibrated. On top of that you have a situation where anyone who has made a stop for coffee or gas is exempt from the timer because of the stop, so you put a number of people driving 15MPH over the limit (because they stopped and aren't subject to the timer) on the same road as people driving 15MPH under the limit (because they haven't stopped and their speedometer is inaccurate) and you're going to see more collisions.
Then there is the pragmatic problem. Speeding tickets are big money because the law is enforced sporadically under unpredictable conditions. To generate revenue, enforcement has to be rare enough that it doesn't induce compliance. And the proposed scheme is entirely deterministic. Everyone who doesn't make a stop will discontinue their speeding between toll booths -- which is ostensibly the intended result, except that it means the scheme will generate no money and will deprive the government of existing ticket revenue that would have been generated on that stretch of road. Meanwhile it reduces the need for police presence, which means you'll have to fight the law enforcement unions to boot. It's not at all surprising that there has been little interest in implementing it.
I've no empirical evidence, but driving on main roads with average speed cameras feels safer.
Being off by 15MPH is near the edge of the plausible range. What you get when you start with a speedometer that was off by several percent from the factory and then you throw in bald tires, or armchair mechanics who put low profile tires on stock wheels, or replace the differential with one that has a different gear ratio, or damage from a previous collision, etc.
Why would someone stop, just to get an excuse to speed later, at the same average? The few people drag-racing, maybe. Not the vast majority who want to to arrive at destination ASASP.
You are conjuring up a ridiculous hypothetical and claiming it is the common case.
You do understand that there are service plazas on toll roads. People stop for gas because they need gas, not because they want to speed. But once someone has stopped, or intends to stop before the toll booth, they're no longer subject to the timer and end up creating a dangerous speed differential against the drivers who are.
Also, all the toll roads in South Florida use the same electronic system (EZ-Pass); it's also usable up through Orlando (from personal experience). With such a system, there's no need to even slow down to pay the toll (and there are no more toll booths in Miami; if you have no EZ-Pass system, a photo of your license place is taken, and a bill (not a ticket) is mailed to the license holder).
Edit: There are also three service plazas along the Florida Turnpike in South Florida, one in Dade County (Miami), one in Broward County (just north of Ft. Lauderdale) and one in West Palm Beach (towards the north end of the county), each separated by approximately 30 miles. Depending on where the cop in question lived and worked, he might have never even passed a service plaza (and besides, the gas there is more expensive).
Existing speed limits are pointless but mostly harmless because people just ignore them. Their primary purpose is to serve as a source of ticket revenue and an excuse for police to stop any vehicle they don't otherwise have cause to stop.
Is that supposed to be an argument that people won't do it?
>And they could still put some police people on the beat, just to check up on the stoppers.
Or they could just do that to begin with and forget about the toll booths, no?
the point is that if you intend to stop, or must stop, you are free to speed without fear of automatic ticketing.
people don't pass marked cars
so a marked car driving the speed limit causes traffic to back up behind them
for no other reason than to alleviate traffic congestion, it probably makes sense for them to drive 15-20 miles over the speed limit
(that obviously doesn't excuse driving 130 mph)
Having an officer going 65 in a 55 just to relieve congestion means the law is irrelevant.
I always thought the speed limit was there as a speed limit. I've found that in Australia, speed limits are obeyed much more than in North America, where they seem to be suggestions or lower bounds on speed.
Many times in Canada I've been travelling in traffic that's doing 30 - 40 kph over the speed limit. That's enough to get your car confiscated in Western Australia!
the cost is real, and should be accounted for
but I'm seen how one slow driving cop can cause a bottle neck behind him as noone wants to pass him
some links about about how seemingly minor factors can cause traffic jams
By that logic, any street that has two or more cars following the speed limit in close proximity to each other could be classified as congestion.
Once you have a buildup of cars that are traveling slower than the intended speed of the road that causes further slowing up the line that eventually creates bumper-to-bumper traffic with little movement, then you have congestion.
"the technical challenges were daunting because the raw information does not allow speed calculations,'' Maines said. "We came up with some neat tricks to overcome that, and it's great that the judges recognized our hard work.""
I am crazy to think that the raw data would be something like:
account#, toll location, time
And this would be the bare minimum. How would determining the length between tolls and using the times to determine the average speed required be "neat tricks"? Am I really off?
I am not saying it wasn't hard work, but please tell me the real technical challenges, that I really would love to hear.
Well, driving above the speed limit while on duty is required. Why would that be included in the statistic? And driving 90 is hardly out of the ordinary where I'm from. That being said, driving 120 or 130 while off duty is clearly a bad idea.
Admittedly, it's not really physically possible to catch up to someone traveling at 90 mph when you're limited to 65, however they have lights and sirens that, according to law, they are required to use while responding to an emergency or incident, which broadly covers speeding.
According to the original article, more than half of all incidents occurred outside of the officers jurisdictions. Miami-Dade limits officers to 20 mph above the speed limit at all times, even while enroute to an emergency (270 cops were found going over 90, 70 being the highest speed limit in Miami-Dade). FHP limits officers to 15 above the posted limit, but does allow excesses if the situation requires it, but only if the environment allows it and it is safe to do so, but earns the prize for the fastest speed of 129.8 mph.
I think I'm perfectly aware of the existence of radio waves and the breakthrough in communications their discovery unlocked, but I wasn't talking about that. I was talking about two different objects traveling at two different speeds in the same direction being physically incapable of meeting at another point unless the faster object slows down or stops, or in this instance the slower object breaks the speed limit and speeds up.
It's a bad point because police already do radio ahead while they're in pursuit. Also, some cities do not allow police to chase suspects but it all depends on the crime. For example, they may chase someone wanted for murder but not someone else who's wanted for a non-violent crime. The argument is that it's not worth putting the public at risk for some offenders but for others it's important to apprehend the suspected criminal.
Not always. It is technically not even allowed unless they are actively responding to a call, I believe. (There's a lot of police work that involves being in a marked car without being on your way to stop a robbery in progress).
I'm not saying it's a panacea, but I do think that we live in pretty interesting times for this kind of thing.
Here's hoping it continues in that direction.
Like Congress voting back insider-trading.
Zero penalty for speeding off-duty cops and they will still kill people and get away with it.
People are people. We all do stupid things, and pretending that cops are anything but people is idiotic. Yes, they should be held to a higher standard. No, that does not mean you should not expect them to fuck up; it means that they should be punished when they do, just like the rest of us.
I know people who scream corruption and all sorts of other stupidity every time some government agent does something that seems even remotely wrong. I also know people who will defend, against all logic, all actions of anyone carrying a badge. I fall somewhere in between; I know and have known a whole lot of government employees, and have even been processed by a few of them. Yep, it was my fault, and I can't bring myself to hold it against them.
The point is that most people who take the job of upholding the law do so. That the laws aren't perfect is not their fault. That there are people who take that job but still break the law means they're not perfect, and it means they're still subject to the same laws as the rest of us. That's not news; that's just reality.
The idea that cops should be perfect sure as hell didn't come from cops. At least, none that I know. Higher standard? Sure. Perfection? Try a mirror. No one can manage that, and if you want perfect people chasing you down the street, you're likely to get sued when they find out you're using Superman without express written permission.
The solution is to replace the current feudal legal system with a framework that seeks to reduce violence.