Lower Speed Limits Are Better … Right?

Written by Gregory Monte.

“We found there was an increase in fatal and injury crashes at locations with posted speed limits set 10 miles per hour or more below engineering recommendations.”

Vikash Gayah, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Penn State


Engineering Studies and Speed Limits

According to the Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Section 2B.13, speed limits …

“… shall only be established on the basis of an engineering study that has been performed in accordance with traffic engineering practices. The engineering study shall include an analysis of the current speed distribution of free-flowing vehicles.”

Well, according to an article which appeared in Science Daily in December 2018, there appears to be a good reason for this required procedure.  These engineering studies help determine the proper …

“… free-flow speeds — the speed that drivers select based on geometric and prevailing weather conditions.”

In other words, rather than just picking an arbitrary limit, engineers find out what drivers are actually doing on the road given a whole host of conditions in order to statistically determine how fast is too fast.


Motorists Are Not Babies

Wait a minute … they find out what drivers, themselves, decide to do on the roads in order to determine speed limits?

What a novel thing to do.

I will repeat here what I have often suggested in this blog and on my Facebook Page.  Motorists on the highway are not babies who lack the capacity to apply reasoning and common sense to situations that confront them.  As adults, they have the ability to use their brains to make a choice based on the factors which they experience.  Common sense thinking would acknowledge that drivers actually care about their own safety and the condition of their vehicles.  As a result, they use their reasoning and judgement based on the situation that they are faced with and drive accordingly.

Could this mean that they sometimes choose to drive over the limit if the situation warrants it?

Absolutely – and the overwhelming majority do so safely and without incident.


A Final Word for the “Traffic Nazis”

I have little tolerance for individuals who I term “Traffic Law Nazis.”  These are people who get “high and mighty” about drivers who safely travel over the speed limit by 10 mph.  They smile to themselves when they see those flashing police lights behind a car pulled over on the side of the road.  Likewise, these individuals can’t fathom how anyone could possibly roll through a stop sign safely – even when there is no one within 100 yards of the intersection.  They want the police to issue tickets to every single one of these lawbreakers.

Do these individuals secretly hope for a police state where every single law/regulation on the rule books (there are thousands upon thousands) is strictly enforced and prosecuted no matter what the circumstance?

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