There was a very interesting article in the Australian news services in the last few days. Whilst I like tuned Saabs and plenty of power, I’m not a person who’s generally given to speeding all too often. I like to give it a burst, then back off. I enjoy my fun in small, safe bites.
Here in Tasmania, the speed limit on the main highways is 110 km/h. The Tasmanian government has done a reasonable amount of consulting with the Swedes (of all people!) and we’ve had a slow progression to slower speed limits in certain areas. We’re even getting those ‘cheesecutter’ wires along the center of some roads to separate the lanes.
I don’t mind speed limits and I don’t even mind the reasonable and fair enforcement of those speed limits (I hate revenue-raising hidden cameras).
But as I read this article I found myself nodding in agreement more and more.
It’s the mantra all drivers learn from the time they first slap on L-plates: the faster you go, the greater your chance of a serious crash.
The reasoning is simple. The greater your speed, the less time you have to react to a problem, the greater the braking distance required and the greater the forces involved in any collision.
But is it always this clear cut?
Not according to pro-speed campaigners, who are agitating for governments around the country and around the world to raise speed limits, particularly in rural areas and on stretches of high-quality highway.
They passionately argue boredom and frustration, rather than speed, are the main killers when people are travelling between isolated rural communities.
I never get bored when driving, but I’ve certainly experienced frustration. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck behind someone doing 90km/h in a 110km/h section of single-lane highway, only to have them speed up to 115 when it goes (briefly) to double-lanes and allows a passing opportunity.
And why should I get fined for safely driving at 10km/h over the 110km/h limit on an open road in dry conditions (hello, Rune) when some dingbat is eating breakfast or sending a text message in city peak hour traffic?
I know my limits and I know that my own capabilities are well and truly less than my car’s capabilities. As long as I drive to my own limits, the car will not let me down.
Why can’t other people be educated to do the same?
I’m all for low speed limits in built up areas and especially around schools, etc. But I’m also for people treating transportation as a privelege rather than a god-given right, and one that they should educate themselves for in an appropriate manner.
Bottom line: we need better skilled drivers, not lower limits.
What about where you live?
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