Too We Tolerate Too Many Traffic Deaths?

Presumably with the Memorial Day weekend upon us (though I’ve cautioned against the “holiday traffic deaths story” before) The New York Times “Room for Debate” section has opened this question to a number of people, including myself. I won’t spoil the suspense, but you can read it here.

But that’s all I’ll say for now, as I’m about to (very safely) drive away for the weekend. Stay tuned on Tuesday, however, for the debut of “The Hive” project at Slate, to which I’ll be hoping you contribute.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010 at 9:40 am and is filed under Traffic Culture, Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Too We Tolerate Too Many Traffic Deaths?”

  1. Sgt.Bungers Says:

    This illustrates a BIG problem with speed limits. This writer is ranting about all those people who were travelling 20-30 odd below the 55MPH speed limit… inches from a plummeting cliff face. Who in their right mind would travel at “thrill seeking” speeds on a road with little to no room for error, just because the magic number on the sign tells them they’re “allowed” to?

    That’s not to say someone travelling significantly below an appropriate speed for the road, or the average speed of others shouldn’t pull over occasionally, that should be common courtesy… but with the anonymity provided by an enclosed motor vehicle… what’s the point of being courteous?

    I’ve digressed. This driver, I assume a motoring journalist, should have been well aware that 90% of the people on this road would have been sight seeing tourists before he set off. Tourists who were unfamiliar with the road, many travelling on it for the first time. Tourists who were likely to be on it for the scenery, not for the G forces.

    Abolish speed limits. Design and build roads so as to encourage appropriate speeds for the area. Bring in automatic, minimum prison terms for any driver who seriously injures or kills another person, after being found guilty of driving too fast for the conditions.

    Watch how drastically people slow down on roads such as the Pacific Coast Highway, because suddenly drivers are forced to actually use their brain. Maybe 55 isn’t a good idea on a crowded, winding highway with mere inches of room for error, just because you’re in a sports car?

    Also watch how drastically the passive aggressive antics of some drivers who enjoy holding up others on the interstate, sitting in the left lane because they’re doing the speed limit… suddenly disappear.

    This belief that the “speed limit” (actual definition, maximum safe speed to be travelled at in good conditions) is the magic number that will keep us all safe, is a dangerous problem… with a speed limit, drivers will sit at that speed (+5), rain, hail, shine, day or night, with the false belief that they’re the best driver on the road, and all others should be following their example.

    In our minds, all motor vehicle drivers fall into two categories… First, the idiots. They’re the ones who are travelling too slowly… they’re the ones we catch up to and must pass as soon as we can. Then we have the morons, they catch up to us as we’re driving at a reasonable speed, and for some reason, must always pass us as soon as they can.

    I can guarantee everyone, whilst “Jason Cammisa” the writer of this PCH article, was fuming about all the idiots on California 1… all those “idiots” were flabbergasted at the antics of the “moron” in the Porsche.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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