Re: Repeal of the National Speed Limit Law

In article <3t0ofj$m4s@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, aaprrb@aol.com (AAPR RB) writes:
> >So it's time for
> >the traffic engineers, and not the insurance industry or any other
> >vested interest, to set the speed limits.
> > -- Chuck Fry, member, National Motorists Association
> The National Motorists Association sounds like a vested interest to me. 

Heaven forbid there be an organization that actually represents the interests
of *drivers*, rather than insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, etc.

But the NMA didn't sponsor the study that shows speed limits to be irrelevant,
the FHA did.  The NMA just dug the study out from its hiding place.

> Sources for speed causing accidents:
> "The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia"

Their source?

> "Information Please Alminac" from the National Safety Council

Vested interest.

> Comptons Encyclopedia

Their source?

> The California Highway Patrol

Vested interest.

>   The Most Common Causes of Accidents
> ---------
> The Most Common Causes of Accidents
>    Almost 18 million traffic accidents are reported in the United States
> annually, and more than 450,000 are reported in Canada each year. Human
> error is responsible for about 90 percent of these accidents.
>    The most frequent traffic violations committed by poor drivers are: (1)
> speeding--the principal contributing factor in fatal and nonfatal traffic
> accidents; (2) failing to yield the right-of-way--ranks second in nonfatal
> and third in fatal accidents; and (3) driving under the influence of
> alcohol--a factor in at least half of the fatal accidents." Comptons
> Encyclopedia

How was it determined that "speeding" was the "principal contributing
factor"?  What is the definition of "speeding" in this case?  Driving
above the posted limit?  Or driving faster than conditions would allow
safely?  If you run into something, I would say it is pretty obvious you
were "speeding", i.e. driving faster than conditions.  However, this
does not imply anything about driving faster than the posted limit.

> In addition:
> The Gallup Organization conducted a survey in which drivers rated their
> own ability compaired to others on the road. 70% of the respondants
> claimed to have better driving ability than other drivers on the road,
> with nearly half stating their driving aptitude as 'excellent'. Only 36%
> of people reported that they usually drive above the speed limit. (The
> Gallup Organization)

What does this prove?  Especially since this "36%" figure is belied by
the evidence mine own eyes see on the road every day.

> Psycologists state time and time again that speeding is a direct response
> to the 'challenge' of being passed by another driver. As a driver gets
> passed he (most speeders are men) feels the need to regain his position
> and the race is on. (Orange County Register)

What does this prove?

> The California Department of Motor Vehicals conducted a study to determine
> the effects of suspending the licenses of habitual speeders. They stopped
> the suspension of licenses to a control group of people, while continued
> the enforcement with the rest of the habitual speeders for a number of
> months. The study was discontinued after public outrage that the
> non-suspended speeders were shown to be killing themselves and innocent
> people (motorists, passengers and pedestrians) at a greater than normal
> rate. (Orange County Register)

"Habitual speeders", no doubt means people who habitually receive speeding
tickets.  I have no doubt that people who are habitually inattentive, and
thus don't notice the cop that is in the vicinity when they are speeding,
are more likely to receive speeding tickets.  I also have no doubt that
people who are habitually inattentive, are more likely to be involved in
accidents.  Therefore it is not surprising that there is a correlation
between those who habitually receive speeding tickets and those who are
involved in accidents, because of the root cause of both, which I believe
is inattentiveness.

This study doesn't prove that driving over the speed limit is the major
cause of accidents, however, or that there is any significant positive
correlation between posted speed limits and accidents rates.

> A published journal article showed that owners of radar detectors were
> MORE likely to get speeding tickets than non-owners. This is primarily due
> to the effect of radar detector owners are a self selected group of people
> who habitually speed.

Or it could be primarily due to the effect that police officers who notice
that a person has a radar detector conclude that the driver "must be a
habitual speeder", and thus the officer is much more likely to write a
ticket than issue a warning.  Radar detectors don't make you immune from 
other methods of speed limit enforcement.

> That should give you some quick items to disprove as opinions of bored
> scientists.

The data are inconclusive.  What, in any of these studies, refutes the
findings of the FHA-supported study that showed that posted speed limits
are for the most part irrelevant?

> I haven't mentioned this before but will now. I am not oppsed to a raised
> speed limit being passed by the govt. In fact I am slightly for it.
> However, I'm also pretty sure that many states won't change their speed
> limits even if they were given control of them. If they did, only in
> select (probably rural) areas.

You're probably right here.

> One of my points about a higher speed limit creating more deaths and
> serious accidents DOES  in fact take into account some of the points that
> NMA members have brought up. Primarily the one about people will drive at
> whatever speed they want no matter what the posted limit. I see it a
> slightly different way. I see it as a percentage over the posted limit.
> Raise the speed limit, all traffic speeds increase.

This is refuted by the FHA-supported study.

> Those who drove
> habitually over the speed limit will still drive over the new speed limit.

There is no evidence for this.  Of course, a certain percentage of drivers
who were driving over the old speed limit will drive over the new speed limit,
but those drivers were probably already driving over the new speed limit
before.  And there is no reason to believe that drivers who drive, for
example, 15 mph over the limit will continue to drive 15 mph over the
limit when it is raised.

In fact, the FHA-supported study seemed to show that when the speed limit
was raised to a reasonable level, more people were likely to obey the limit.

> However with greater speeds comes shortened reaction times and all the
> other fun stuff discussed as of late. Still with me? OK now we see that we
> are just moving everyone up in speed (momentum) and roughly the same
> percentage of people who would have had accidents above the speed limit
> will still have accidents above the speed limit, only with a higher
> percentage of fatalities due to the increase in energy of impact and the
> resulting greater structural damage to the vehical(s).

All of this assumes that the overall speed of traffic will increase
significantly with a raise in the speed limit, which is refuted by
the study.

> Assuming that all traffic will stay at the same average speed even with an
> increase in posted speed limit and without adjusting to the newer speed
> over time is unsound logic and psychology.

It may be intuitively wrong, but it's the facts, and the studies you have
pointed to don't show otherwise.

> History has taught us that. No
> matter how good we have it we always want more. The first prison in
> america had its first riot over the food the inmates were served. What
> detestable food were they made to consume? Lobster. Raise the speed limits
> now and in a few years they will be too slow again. That's just they way
> things go.

People were generally happy with the speed limits on the freeways before
the 55 NMSL.

> And yes, I do have a few speeding tickets. But as an EMT I have also
> pulled a few too many people out of auto accidents. Many of them caused by
> speeds above the flow of traffic.

Ahh, but how often is the flow of traffic at or under the posted speed limit?

Dan Howell  <dhowell.es_cp8@xerox.com>

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