Posted by: David | September 12, 2008

The Speed Limit

I try to drive the speed limit because I believe that Christians ought to obey the government, unless there is a conflict between man’s law and God’s law, of course. However, this resolve has become increasingly difficult now that I have moved outside of Jackson because one of the roads I take to work has a 30, 35, and 40 mile per hour speed limit.  So I have been reconsidering this issue, reading articles and opinions about the speed limit, and I found this article. Here are a few selections. Let me know what you think.

Q. How should speed limits be set?
A. Traffic engineers maintain that speed limits should be established according to the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic. This means the limit should be set at a level at or under which 85 percent of people are driving. Numerous studies have shown that the 85th percentile is the safest possible level at which to set a speed limit.

Q. What are “realistic” speed laws?
A. According to a pamphlet produced by the Washington State Department of Transportation relating to speed limits, “realistic” speed limits should invite public compliance by conforming to the behavior of the most drivers. This would allow the police to easily separate the serious violators from the reasonable majority.

Q. Isn’t slower always safer?
A. No, federal and state studies have consistently shown that the drivers most likely to get into accidents in traffic are those traveling significantly below the average speed. According to an Institute of Transportation Engineers Study, those driving 10 mph slower than the prevailing speed are six times as likely to be involved in an accident. That means that if the average speed on an interstate is 70 mph, the person traveling at 60 mph is far more likely to be involved in an accident than someone going 70 or even 80 mph.

Q. Wouldn’t everyone drive faster if the speed limit was raised?
A. No, the majority of drivers will not go faster than what they feel is comfortable and safe regardless of the speed limit. For example, an 18-month study following an increase in the speed limit along the New York Thruway from 55 to 65 mph, determined that the average speed of traffic, 68 mph, remained the same. Even a national study conducted by Federal Highway Administration also concluded that raising or lowering the speed limit had practically no effect on actual travel speeds.

Q. If nobody follows the speed limit, why does it matter that they are underposted?
A. According to a speed-limit brochure published in conjunction with the Michigan State Patrol, inappropriately established speed limits cause drivers to take all traffic signals less seriously. The brochure also points out that unrealistic speed limits create two groups of drivers. Those that try to obey the limit and those that drive at a speed they feel is safe and reasonable. This causes dangerous differences in speed.



  1. Thanks for posting that! I was thinking about our speed limit conversation just the other day.

  2. As long as your engine is more powerful than the state troopers, you’ll be alright. The state troopers can only pull you over if they can catch you.

    “The Deuce and a Quarter Argument”

    For instance, the reason that I don’t worry about speed limits is that I drive an Electra ’88 with an overhauled Caddy engine and can’t nobody catch no ‘deuce and a quarter!”

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