Speed Kills?

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Brandon Reeves
English 1010-001
Speed Kills?
They use the slogan “SPEED KILLS” to brainwash the American public into conformity with the insanely-low speed limits that benefit the insurance companies, local governments, and all others who profit from them. The arguments that are used to support this ideal are based upon faulty, self-serving, and biased science. Speed does kill, but only if the vehicle runs into something. The speed limit is set deliberately 10-15 mph below the average driving speed on urban highways and interstates instead of the average speed of normal traffic flow. Most drivers drive at a speed that is comfortable for the conditions and rarely pay attention to the speedometer. With speed limits irrelevant in everyday driving while posted limits exist, they should be increased to account for actual driving behavior, technological innovation or removed altogether.

The definition of “speed related” accidents, according to the Department of Transportation include improper lane changes, following too closely, unsafe passing, inattention, reckless driving, high speed chase, erratic speeds, driving less than posted minimums, and driving too fast for conditions (not necessarily above the speed limit). This definition alone proves that speed is being used as a “scapegoat” for the cause of many accidents that were not caused by excessive speed. While taking some weight off of the speeders, it does bring to attention the need for increased attention and more appropriate driving habits. Policing of highways by radar has contributed to the same statistics of fatal crashes used to rationalize these insufficient speed limits. Drivers surprised by the sight of the almost camouflaged police unit, are common causes of highway tragedies for instantly cramming on their brakes, to avoid getting a speeding ticket. With traffic usually traveling in groups, the comfortable following distance is reduced by each reaction to this sudden braking action until no action can be taken. If the same officer were concentrating on traffic flow, which is the real problem, this accident would not have happened.

Speed should be recommended if road conditions or features would take the driver by surprise. The D.O.T. already does this with curve signs and intersection signs. This would help to control traffic flow but leave the speed to the discretion of the individual driver. Speed is irrelevant and the D.O.T. has done studies that show the speed of traffic does not change because of limits, but follows flow. The study is titled “Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits” and states “The results of the study indicated that lowering posted speed limits by as much as 20 mi/h (32 km/h), or raising speed limits by as much as 15 mi/h (24 km/h) had little effect on motorist' speed. The majority of motorist did not drive 5 mi/h (8 km/h) above the posted speed limits when speed limits were raised, nor did they reduce their speed by 5 or 10 mi/h (8 or 16 km/h) when speed limits are lowered. Data collected at the study sites indicated that the majority of speed limits are posted below the average speed of traffic. Lowering speed limits below the 50th percentile does not reduce accidents, but does significantly increase driver violations of the speed limit. Conversely, raising the posted speed limits did not increase speeds or accidents” .

Driver violations are often used by local governments to bring in revenue to support the annual budget. This is normally referred to as the mystical “Quota”. Which, to not be overturned by local residents, must remain top-secret. “Some towns sitting on a major thoroughfare have found themselves with a method of increasing their revenues by hiring police officers whose major duty is issuing speeding tickets. For instance, the town of Stringtown, Oklahoma (population 366) has a budget for fiscal 1992 of $426,000 and expects traffic fines levied largely against out-of-state drivers to...
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