Fast lane is jammed with reasons
05/20/2007 12:00 AM
10/22/2009 5:23 PM
We asked why you drive so fast. Here's what some readers said:
Enforcement is the key
We're a community of speed demons around here. I'm one of the "mild" ones in that I keep it between 7 mph and 9 mph over the speed limit. What keeps me below 10 mph over is the fear of a ticket and a spike in my insurance.
I travel extensively for my job, and I've noticed that Ohio, Virginia and Arizona apparently have found a way to scare their residents into abiding by the speed limit. I don't know how they do it, but I can only assume that they show no mercy once they write a citation.
My first trips to these locations I noticed that if I was cruising down the highway doing my usual 7 mph to 9 mph over the speed limit, I was running past everyone else. I realized I better slow down -- everyone else knows something that I apparently don't. On the highway or on city streets, the speed limit was adhered to and truly a LIMIT. Sure, a couple of brazen folks would be passing the rest of us, but they were few and far between.
Unfortunately, until the punishments are enforced, not much will improve. I'm afraid to think that now that people know that they have a 99 percent chance of getting away with it (other than paying attorney fees), the problem may get worse before it gets better.
Speed as defensive driving
The only time I drive too fast is if a driver honks at me or if I feel threatened. If I'm not paying attention at a red light that turns green and a driver honks at me or if I feel threatened or feel as if my safety is in danger, then I will speed to get away from that driver. If I can, I will also speed away from a driver who has road rage; if I cannot get away from them, I will let them pass and cool down. If I have to speed to get away from people who make me feel unsafe, I will speed until I feel safe or I lose sight of the driver. This situation only tends to occur two or three times a month.
I notice that a lot of people drive too fast because they are late for school, work or an appointment. The lives of innocent people should not be put in danger because someone is five minutes late for an appointment.
How lame would it sound if a trooper had to explain to a parent that their son was killed by a man who was speeding because he was late returning from lunch? A person's freedom to travel should end when it interferes with another's safety.
Built for speed
Why do I drive too fast? Because my car is built for it, and so are most of today's highways.
I learned to drive in 1946 in my father's 1938 Dodge. It was subject to wind resistance and road noise and poor mileage if you drove faster than 50. Roads were narrower, too, and there were lots of traffic lights. Today, we're streamlined, sound-insulated and over-horse-powered, and our roads are autobahns. Speeding is too easy.
Give yourself time
To those who feel they are entitled to speed because they have to get to work on time:
- Leave earlier.
- Plan ahead.
- Live closer to where you work.
The roads are not designed to accommodate your every whim and lack of judgment.
People like to blame the government for everything. But the government didn't mandate large, remote subdivisions with cul-de-sacs. The government didn't mandate that people need to have their own space with acreage to boot.
Blame late sleepers
Why do we allow automakers to build vehicles that can go in excess of 100 mph? In most states the maximum speed limit is 70 to 75 mph. The only vehicles that should be allowed to exceed these speeds are emergency vehicles.
I also think a big reason people speed is sleeping in the morning as long as possible and then rushing around to try to get to work on time. They stay up late, get a few hours of sleep and then speed to make it in on time. To those who are guilty of this I say: Go to bed early and wake up early. You'll feel better and might save yours or someone else's life.
Just keeping up
It's not at all unusual for me to be going to work in the morning on I-40 doing 75 mph to 80 mph, and I'm just keeping up with traffic.
That is far less dangerous than when the traffic is heavier and some guy is actually doing the speed limit but cutting in and out of traffic to do it. He is far more likely to be involved in an accident than I am, and the left lane bandit who self-righteously parks in the far left lane doing exactly the speed limit is also far more likely to cause an accident as responsible drivers change lanes to get around him.
A matter of time
I speed because I have to get from point A to point B in X amount of time.
It's been my experience that it's not "speed that kills," it's erratic or inconsiderate driving behaviors (e.g., not checking mirrors before changing lanes or merging, driving in the fast lane at a much slower rate of speed than other traffic, applying makeup or talking on the cell phone and disregarding other traffic) that kills.
I drive Interstate 40 daily and encounter all of those examples and then some. I frequently think to myself how much more quickly and safely I could get to work if others would just follow the simple rule of slower drivers keeping right (as well as focusing on the road instead of their phones/makeup/breakfast, etc.).
So, sorry, but I honestly don't believe that my doing 80 mph in the fast lane is what will cause an accident (by the way, I have never had an accident in all of my 20 years of driving, and I haven't had a speeding ticket in over seven years).
My tires are inflated properly, I use my turn signals when I change lanes, I check my mirrors frequently, I move to the right when faster traffic moves up behind me, I don't make sudden, drastic moves, I don't eat in the car, and when I do take a call on my cell phone I use a wireless headset, and I never take my attention off the road.
Slowing people down isn't the solution. (Good grief, can you imagine what would happen if everyone did 55/60 mph on I-40 in the morning? I'd NEVER get to work!) Educating new drivers and re-educating experienced ones is.
Maybe instead of speed limit signs, we should post "information" signs? For example, "Slower traffic keep right!" "Hang up the phone and pay attention!" "That Lever to the Left of Your Steering Wheel is Your Turn Signal Indicator -- USE IT!" and "You Can Eat that Sausage Biscuit When You Get to Work!"
Formula for disaster
I don't drive fast because I'm not part of the generation with a "me-first" attitude. So many drivers today think only of themselves, and it's not just teenagers who so often get blamed for the highway problems. They have learned a lot of their horrible driving habits from the parents they have been riding with all their lives.
Most drivers have never experienced a high-speed collision and, therefore, have no idea of the consequences of their actions. Video games have enforced this attitude by allowing you to ctrl-alt-del and start over without the first the bruise, cut or concussion. Common courtesy is something that is definitely missing on our highways today, part of the "me first" attitude.
Add that to the fact that you can buy your way out of practically any driving citation because we've got a bunch of "Good Old Boys" in charge of the judicial system that make Mike Nifong look like a Boy Scout, and we've got a real formula for disaster on our highways.
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