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Old 02-22-2008, 06:49 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SVOboy View Post
If the point is that people are always going to speed, isn't it then the case that people will just go 90 when the limit is 80 instead of 80 when it is 70?
Thats exactly my point. If you are going to have speed limits on the highway you need strict enforcement for everyone's safety. Most states are unwilling to unable to afford the technology and manpower. So they set the speed limit too low and hope that even speeders will drive at some kind of reasonable speed for fear of not being pulled over. Its a dangerous enforcement strategy to a victimless crime.

The upside to higher speed limits or even no speed limit at all is the law of diminishing return. Eventually people pick their own reasonable speed limit. If you combine this with better driver's training, education about right of way and slower traffic keep right, you will get safer highways, fewer accident, less traffic jams and (OMG!) better fleet wide fuel economy because we won't be stuck in stop and go traffic all the time. Higher speeds are also a cheap way of increasing the capacity of existing freeways without having to add more lanes of traffic, something nobody wants to talk about.
I encourage anyone to look up the accident and mortality rate on unrestricted stretches of the German autobahn.


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Old 02-22-2008, 06:56 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The parts I'm having trouble with are "too low," "dangerous enforcement strategy" and "victimless crime."

Unfortunately for the US the autobahn isn't safer because everyone is driving as fast as they want, it's safer because German driving standards are much higher, licenses or more difficult to get, penalties are stiffer, and taxes can pay for roads that are safe to drive on at 150 MPH. Do you want to be the state paying all the lawsuits when some driving 100MPH hits a pothole and dies? Even forgetting how bad US drivers are, is it worth the money to build a huge interstate network where people could actually drive as fast as they want with a reasonable assurance of decent road conditions, minimal bends, stronger median walls and side barriers? If you wanna talk about the government padding it's wallet with speeding tickets I wouldn't even want to guess how much that would cost.
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:03 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Point taken, but speed limits are not part of "higher driving standards" so I don't see what the big fuss is about when Utah wants to raise its speed limit to 80mph. I think its a step in the right direction that other states should follow. When the speed limit goes up, drivers will demand safer highways, better road surfaces, barriers, road signs etc. But at 55, 65 or 70mph theres really no need to improve the quality of the roads.

The German autobahn with all its safety features, driver's training, road quality and the car industry it spawned didn't happen over night. It developed over time as a necesary response to higher speeds.
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:08 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Many of the interstates I've driven on have large potholes. Hell, in MO they don't even have on ramps for a lot of the roads and it's much harder to pull on or cross them (I'm assuming they just don't have the budget).

But anyway, the issue isn't so much that the road surface matters too much for safety between 55 and 65, but when you get up near 80 I think that and the driver's skill (especially attentiveness) become very important. That's the main difference between the US and places in Europe with high speed limits.

But when it comes down to it, I'm a fan of trains and living near work, which eliminates a lot of these annoying problems.
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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But anyway, the issue isn't so much that the road surface matters too much for safety between 55 and 65, but when you get up near 80 I think that and the driver's skill (especially attentiveness) become very important. That's the main difference between the US and places in Europe with high speed limits.

But when it comes down to it, I'm a fan of trains and living near work, which eliminates a lot of these annoying problems.
If you increase the average speed on the highways Americans will become a lot more like the Europeans you describe.
I also completely agree with you about the need for more mass transit in the form of trains and pedestrian friendly cities.
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I haven't looked into this a lot, but I've read a few things arguing that german auto safety is a product of the fact that it's much harder to get and keep a license in germany than other countries, not necessarily because germans love being careful, but Iono. I won't argue that point since I don't know.
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Old 02-22-2008, 07:57 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Here's another study from 1992 that agrees with what tjts1 has been saying. Very intersresting. People just drive as fast as they want regardless of posted speeds.

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Lowering speed limits by 5, 10, 15, or 20 mi/h (8, 16, 24, or 26 km/h) at the study sites had a minor effect on vehicle speeds. Posting lower speed limits does not decrease motorist's speeds.

Raising speed limits by 5, 10, or 15 mi/h (8, 16, or 25 km/h) at the rural and urban sites had a minor effect on vehicle speeds. In other words, an increase in the posted speed limit did not create a corresponding increase in vehicle speeds
So I guess fuel economy and emissions are something that we don't need to worry about since no one will try to conserve fuel if the DOT is correct in the report.
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:11 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Here's another study from 1992 that agrees with what tjts1 has been saying. Very intersresting. People just drive as fast as they want regardless of posted speeds.

So I guess fuel economy and emissions are something that we don't need to worry about since no one will try to conserve fuel if the DOT is correct in the report.
Maybe higher speeds will encourage people into smaller more fuel efficient cars. An interesting study on speed vs FE.
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006...onsumptio.html
Golf TDI at 95mph has the same FE as Mercedes C180k at 50mph. It all goes to hell at about 100mph.

In the end I think the real solution is to get people out of car.
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:39 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tjts1 View Post
... less traffic jams and (OMG!) better fleet wide fuel economy because we won't be stuck in stop and go traffic all the time. Higher speeds are also a cheap way of increasing the capacity of existing freeways without having to add more lanes of traffic, something nobody wants to talk about.
This is patently false. The highway has a limit to how many cars it can hold at once, not how many that can move across it, and this causes a small number of the traffic jams. Making them move across it faster will NOT solve this. However, if you have ever taken classes on traffic jams (I have not) or standing wave theories which apply directly to traffic jams (I have) then you will be well aware that the issues actually develop from lane shifting to exit the highway and lower speeds entering the highway. Advancing the speed limit will exacerbate the speed differential causing the same traffic jams quicker. To solve most traffic jams you need fewer exits and entrances and allow traffic to enter the flow at the same speed. Changing a speed limit will not do this.

Last edited by Gone4; 02-22-2008 at 08:48 PM..
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Old 02-22-2008, 09:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
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This is patently false. The highway has a limit to how many cars it can hold at once, not how many that can move across it, and this causes a small number of the traffic jams. Making them move across it faster will NOT solve this. However, if you have ever taken classes on traffic jams (I have not) or standing wave theories which apply directly to traffic jams (I have) then you will be well aware that the issues actually develop from lane shifting to exit the highway and lower speeds entering the highway. Advancing the speed limit will exacerbate the speed differential causing the same traffic jams quicker. To solve most traffic jams you need fewer exits and entrances and allow traffic to enter the flow at the same speed. Changing a speed limit will not do this.
So you don't think speed limits cause traffic jams?
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