On the main road that bisects my rural county, I typically lope along at 75 or so. This, to me – for me – is a reasonable speed. It’s within my comfort zone. Not so fast that I feel I’m pushing my limits as a driver – or the limits of the car. I state this as a mature adult who has taken several high-performance driving courses, drives professionally to earn my living (test driving/evaluating new cars) and who – most relevantly – has not had an accident in decades of driving. One of two things must be true: Either I am very lucky – or I am a responsible, careful driver.
The speed limit, however, is 55.
This means I am usually driving much faster than is legally permissible. In fact, in my state (Virginia) it is technically “reckless driving” to exceed any posted limit by more than 20 MPH. That means 76 in a 55 – even if 55 is palpably ridiculous, almost universally ignored – and doing 76 is not much faster than the normal flow of traffic on that road.
A fundamental problem – technically, not ethically – with speed limits is they are one-size-fits-all, the “size” typically being a half-blind, borderline senile, fearful/timid and poorly skilled driver – for whom that speed might indeed be the limit – the fastest theyprobably ought to be driving (if they ought to be driving at all)…
These, of course, are not exact parallels, but the fundamental point does apply. People are individuals – and individuals vary in almost every conceivable way, including their skill behind the wheel. Some are much better – and some much worse – than others. This is as self-evident as the fact that some people are better athletes than others, can tackle advanced math more adeptly than some can deal with basic arithmetic. And so on, throughout and across the spectrum of human life.
Speed limits – to be generous for the sake of this discussion, let us assume they are not set over-low deliberately, for purposes of mulcting motorists – are typically set on the assumption that everyone is worse. No, it’s more than merely that. Speed limits require every driver to drive at the level of the worst drivers. Those who refuse to get on the short bus – so to speak – are punished for not following the rules.
Not because they are bad (or dangerous) drivers.
As a result, there is a gross (and growing) disconnect between “crime” and “punishment.” Meaning, people who know they’ve done no wrong, who were in full control of their vehicle, are nonetheless punished – with ever-increasing severity. See, for instance, Virginia’s “reckless driving” statute, which imposes four figure fines and the possibility of jail time merely for driving in excess of 20 MPH faster than any posted limit. This is a fundamental injustice – and bad social policy besides. One of the main reasons otherwise straight-and-narrow citizens are becoming ever-more-contemptuous of police is that they view them as thieves acting under color of law. The roadside prattle about “safety” and “do you know how fast you were going” is insufferable cant. It’s a shakedown, legalized robbery – nothing more.
Read the rest of this article here. Its worth your time.