Letter: The Politics Of Speed Limits

I’m writing in response to Lee LeAndro’s letter last week about speeding and suggesting automatic cameras all over the place fining everyone over the limit (“Goodman Can Use Millions To Make Us Safer”).

This letter is well-intentioned but full of misinformation. As proved on the autobahns of Europe, speed doesn’t kill; speed differences do. One slower driver on I-95 driving the legal limit, for example, causes all kinds of mischief, including hard-braking, constant lane changes and lots of near-misses as almost everyone else maneuvers around him. If everyone did the same speed, none of this would happen. What is that speed? Traffic engineers put the proper limit for any road at what 80 percent of those on the road actually drive.

On the two-lane part of Lake Worth Road, for example, the posted limit is 45. But almost everyone is doing 55. Why? It’s what the majority of drivers feel comfortable with. And that should be the posted limit. Yet, under LeAndro’s proposal, every one of them would face heavy fines, points on their licenses, insurance increases, etc. In fact, posted limits are usually political decisions, with local pols catering to a loud minority who know nothing about road safety.

It’s time to get rational about speed limits, to let traffic engineers make the decisions, and to stop making everyone driving at a comfortable speed an offender. We’ll all get where we’re going in a safer, saner way.

Jay Schleifer, Wellington