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OK Hammer - let's talk facts (archive)

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Posted by RichC on April 03, 1999 at 11:49:27:

In Reply to: Once Again, Speak from knowledge or bow out posted by hammer on April 03, 1999 at 09:36:45:


: If your wish to speak your opinion do so. If you wish to promote lies or promote inaccurate comments that you, obviously, have no knowledge of, please confine them to yourself.

Hammer:
Since we've had no facts from you (or email address, I might note!) just what background do you claim to have? Here's mine: I've been active in state and national politics as it relates to speed enforcement. I was the state coordinator for the NMA for several years in the late 80's. I have several friends who are highway engineers. Additionally, I've spoken on the subject on TV, at the statehouse. I've written articles for newsletters, magazines as well as uncounted letters to my elected reps. I've been an NMA member for over 20 years (I joined back when it was still the CCRTL).

Here's some facts:

1. The fatality rate on all major highways has been falling every year since statistics were first kept. The exception to this is a couple of years in the 40's due to WW II.

2. In the mid 1970's the world experienced an oil crisis. This energy crisis caused the United States, under the leadership of Jimmy Carter to impose lower speed limits in an attempt to conserve fuel.

3. At the same time, a significant drop was observed in the traffic fatality rate. This drop has been widely interpreted as the result of lowering the speed limit. Digging deeper into the issue reveals:

a. There was a corresponding fatality rate drop in every other country which keeps statistics: In Germany, where many of the roads have no speed limits, in Canada a wide open country, where the 100 KPH (62 MPH) limit was not changed, in Japan, a highly congested country where the speed limit has always been 100 KPH. In all cases, the drop was the same, regardless of weather the speed limit was lowered or not.

b. If you chart the fatality rate against speed limit changes in other years (i.e. just after the war when speed limits were raised and the fatality rate dropped and just after 55 was repealed and the rate dropped again) you can find no correlation between speed limits and safety. If there was a correlation between speed limits and safety, one would expect to see the fatality rate increase with higher speed limits, decrease with lower limits. Doesn't happen. There is no statistical evidence to support this.

c. Chart the fatality rate against other factors and you find some interesting correlations: When the GNP raises, the number of highway deaths increase. When gas prices decrease, fatalities increase.

d. Interestingly enough there is one pathological statistical correlation with speed limits: when you raise the speed on major highways, the fatalities on secondary roads decrease significantly.

e. The result of the fluctuations in the rate of the decline of the fatality rate can only be charted to one thing: the density of traffic. As more people drive, fatalities go up. Simple. The end.

3. Despite significant advances in vehicle safety, a continued decrease of the fatality rate, incredible improvements in emissions performance, the Federal Government and "Safety Groups", most of them funded either by governmental agencies or by the Insurance industry have used the aberration in the 1975 figures as an excuse to keep the speed limits artificially low ever since. A quick check on the motives of some of the parties involved reveals:

a. Auto Insurance makes more from speeding tickets than anyone else. There is no statistical correlation between speeding tickets and insurance claims. NONE! In fact, studies show that drivers who exceed the speed limit by as much as 15 mph are generally "safer" than those who drive the limit (this was a DOT study, you can find a reference to it on Their site). Technically speaking, we should be rewarding Speedster, not punishing him! However, if we did that, Insurance Companies would not make the profits they do in their automobile lines. Thus, they have a vested interest in keeping speed limits artificially low!

b. State & local Governments benefit directly from the fines which result from enforcement of artificially low speed limits. Typically, the state and the town "split" the fines with a significant portion of the money going to the local community. The MA state police have gone so far as to put in place quotas for tickets. Officers failing to meet the quotas are passed over for promotion or other benefits. The departments typically Thus both the police, the state and the local municipalities have a vested interest in keeping speed limits artificially low!

4. Highway engineers have argued for many years that (a) speed limits are too low and (b) they should be set by engineers, not politicians. Due to the amount of revenue at stake, this request has been largely ignored.

More Facts: The roads are getting safer every day (the fatality rate continues to fall), cars are getting safer (side airbags, intelligent airbags, ASC, DSC), auto emissions are lower now than at any point in post-industrial history. Incredulously enough, US speed limits remain the joke of the civilized world!

Opinions:
1. Every citizen has the right to resist unfair laws (sorry, I'm from Boston where we got started a couple hundred years ago with a little tea party).
2. Speed limits are set to low and should be resisted as invalid forms of taxation.
3. If everyone fought their speeding ticket, the system would collapse under it's own weight.

BTW No, I have never seen anyone ticketed for any of the things I (in my opinion) feel are dangerous:

- Driving too slow on a highway in the left lane (45 in a 65)
- Blocking traffic on a highway
- Failure to signal lane changes
- Passing on the right (BTW, here in MA the laws are so boneheaded you can legally pass on the right!)

Regarding your comment:

: Our system of laws was designed to protect the rights of all and anyone should protest their innocence.

Spoken like a true vested interest. You don't seem overly concerned that you might get nailed with a $150 fine and more than a grand in insurance surcharges because you were doing 80 in a 65. Could it be that you just don't have to worry about that? Let me guess - local police? Statie?

Here's another opinion: Much of our system of laws was designed to protect the vested interests of those who are in a position to make and enforce the laws. That does not mean that I think laws are inherently bad, it just means that I realize that everyone has an agenda and the ability to get that agenda codified is directly proportional to both the power you possess and the interest at stake. Revenue generation through the application of inappropriate limits is an example of this. Those who seek to glorify this by hiding behind phrases like How unfortunate that this has spawned an industry of protecting the guilty and a society where the ability to accept responsibility for its actions is fleeting. are just not living in the same reality as the rest of us.

If you'd like to continue this little discussion, have the courtesy (at least) of posting your email address and your credentials. Otherwise, have a nice life :)

As always - Alan, sorry for the waste of bandwidth over what should be a non-issue.

- rich

Black Manx





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