Speeding Ticket Avoidance

This is a very popular security-related field, and one that every driver is at least somewhat interested in.

This site is run by an ex-policeman, and feels authoritative. He places a lot of emphasis on education; installing a fancy radar detector isn’t doing to do much for you unless you know how to use it correctly.

Here’s a product that seems to counter the threat of aerial license-plate scanners.

This spray claims to make your license plate invisible to cameras. I have no idea if it works.

One final note: the ex-cop is offering a $5,000 reward for the first person who can point him to a passive laser jammer that works.

Posted on June 21, 2005 at 9:15 AM91 Comments


mike June 21, 2005 9:25 AM

I’d take everything he says with a grain of salt, as he sells the detectors he is recommending. A far better site for tests is http://www.jammertests.com (which appears to be offline, but http://www.jammertests.com/page/page/1904719.htm is still accessible).

Roy’s tests indicate that a Valentine1 is more expensive, and doesn’t perform as well as the Escort 8500 x50. However, the tests on jammertests.com, and my own personal experience say otherwise. He calls the V1 expensive, but fails to mention that there is a 1/2 price upgrade to the newest model available. With the other detectors (that cost $300 or so), you have to pay full price to get the new model.

Mark J. June 21, 2005 10:13 AM

I’ll take my Escort any day. I’m on my third model in two decades and have had great results with them.

That said, a radar detector is simply a tool. If used properly, it can be a big help. But in the hands of a fool, it can be worse than ineffective; it can be deadly.

There’s still no substitute for situational awareness, common sense, and pure, dumb luck. Those three things, along with a good detector, are what will keep you free of invitations to the Troopers’ Ball.

daves561 June 21, 2005 10:27 AM

“There’s still no substitute for situational awareness, common sense, and pure, dumb luck. Those three things, along with a good detector, are what will keep you free of invitations to the Troopers’ Ball.”

I’ve actually found an awesome substitute for all those things you mentioned:

Drive the fricking speed limit.

I appreciate your right to know when you’re being clocked, and I understand that radar detectors are one metaphor for privacy.

But I don’t appreciate people who disrupt the flow of traffic by exceeding the posted speed limit. The unpredictability makes it more difficult to negotiate.


RvnPhnx June 21, 2005 10:28 AM

I, quite frankly could care less what the “absolute” rate of travel of any one driver is. If they do something stupid far away from me the only thing that will affect me is the (minor) change to the statistical voodoo that the insurance people use to determine rates.
What bother me are unsafe drivers (at any speed, including those equal to zero) on the road around me. At 70 MPH 2-4 car-lengths just are not adaquade spacing–and yet folks here will not pass until they are within that amount of space………that’s what cops should be looking out for.

Russ June 21, 2005 10:40 AM

I am more secure when speeders are caught so the subject of beating speed traps reduces my security.


Michael Ash June 21, 2005 10:45 AM


I don’t know where you’re driving, but in most of my driving experience it is the people who stubbornly insist on driving exactly the posted speed limit who disrupt the flow of traffic the most.

hitch June 21, 2005 10:51 AM

you know, it’s funny…”just drive the speed limit” doesn’t work so well on the Washington beltway, where driving the actual speed limit (in any lane) will get you run off the road.

Kingsqueak June 21, 2005 10:54 AM

Quality of operation is the key, not the speed. Observe the rules of the road and go with the flow…an impossible dream.

Some of the most dangerous drivers out there are the people doing 85 in the left lane that slam on their brakes because their detectors go off.

Mark J. June 21, 2005 11:00 AM

The posted speed limit is a joke in most states. Out here in the boonies, it’s ludicrous to putt along at 65MPH on a dead empty, flat, straight, dry highway. In Utah the limit is 80MPH in some areas. That makes far more sense.

The one speeding ticket I’ve received in the last decade was here a couple of years ago. I was running without a detector at the time. I was coming out of a small village area and had been doing the speed limit (30MPH). I was out past all the buildings and heading into the corn fields. There was a 55MPH speed limit sign a hundred yards ahead, so I started to pick up the speed a bit. There was a cop sitting near the sign with his lights off. As I got to the sign, he flipped on the lights and pulled me over. He wrote me up for doing 40 in a 30 even though the front of my car was just past the 55MPH sign. He pointed to the ground at his feet and said, “The speed limit here is 30.” He then pointed to the ground at the front of my car and said, “The speed limit here is 55.” Now granted, he was legally right. But having to pay $150 for speeding up a few yards early is ridiculous. And I’ve seen other such abuses of power in my time. So I will always use a detector is possible. They save you from the same type of inane adherence to laws that was referred to in the piece about the soldiers having to give up nail clippers.

Gary June 21, 2005 11:18 AM

Mark: that sounds just like the south end of Springville (UT). I got pulled over there a few years ago for exactly the same thing.

Dave: you want to see “disrupting the flow of traffic”? Find someone who actually does drive the speed limit — even in the slow lane.

Ian June 21, 2005 11:21 AM

A few comments:

Slow driver != safe driver
Fast driver != unsafe driver
Safe driver != good driver

I’ve never been in an accident when I was going over 20 mph (probably never when I was going over 10 mph, but figure I’ll stick with the conservative estimate).

Therefore, I think it should be illegal to go under 20 mph, because at that speed you can’t possibly react to some other asshat doing something stupid.

Mark J. June 21, 2005 11:32 AM

Gary: It was here in Illinois, but there are cops like that all over.

Ian: I’m confused. Care to elaborate?

Josh O. June 21, 2005 11:44 AM

Didn’t you read the motto on the side of the car, Mark? It said “To Server and Collect”.

Rob June 21, 2005 11:49 AM

When I used to commute 60 miles a day I would often be passed by bad drivers in big SUVs going way over the posted 70mph speedlimit. Nearly got ran off the road by them several times. When I’d get closer to Austin and hit traffic guess who would be sitting right next to me? All that fast and reckless driving and we both end up at the same place and the same time. Just drive the speed limit. I’ve never gotten a ticket in my driving career and I didn’t need a detector to do it….

Chris Hynes June 21, 2005 11:49 AM

Mark: If you are driving slowly, in a cramped space (e.g. a parking lot), you have a LOT less options then when on an open road with few cars around you. You also have a LOT more places surprises can come from. I think that’s probably what Ian’s referring to.

daves561 June 21, 2005 12:08 PM

I think everyone seems to like the “don’t disrupt the flow of traffic” idea. So what speed should we all travel at? Well, on a certain stretch of highway, Mark J. thinks 80 is sensible. But maybe Ian is more comfortable at 70. And then geez, there’s ol’ Rusty with his 455 Rocket, and he’s a 105 guy.

Well, I can’t read your minds, and I don’t care to have a big conference call so we can all decide what to do, so I vote we just go with the numbers posted on the periodically placed signs. It’s the only figure that’s accessible by anyone with eyeballs, even if it is “ludicrous.” Anything else seems provincial.

I think everyone here respects the idea that our freedom is limited by how much it encroaches on others’ freedoms. This principle doesn’t seem to apply with speeding. Can anyone think of another public behavior where this is so much the case? This is not a rhetorical question. I invite opinions, analyses, criticisms, etc.


Robert June 21, 2005 12:09 PM

I second Mike’s opinion that some of what the ex cop says should be taken with a grain of salt. He has a grudge against Valentine detectors. He can’t sell them ( they are only sold direct ), so of course he puts them down.

I wouldn’t use anything else but a V1. It’s the only detector that tells you which direction and how many radar units there are.

Recently, I was travelling on the interstate at a rate higher than the limit, but lower than the rated capable speed for that road, with no traffic and good weather. The detector showed one Ka band unit in front, so I reduced speed. There was an obvious trooper sitting on the side of the road, and as I approced him the detector then showed 2 Ka units ahead. As I passed, the detector shifted to one ahead and one behind. Another 1/2 mile later, over the hill and rounding a curve, there sat the second trooper, hiding in the bushes. This tactic is specifically used to lure in people with sub-standard detectors. Any other detector would have just beeped at me, with no information on how many or which directon they were.

x June 21, 2005 12:15 PM

I am always amused at how angry the reckless kiddies get about cops who spank them for driving like idiots, and people who DARE to drive more slowly than them. I also love knowing that every moment they spend speeding is done with that constant, nagging worry about being apprehended. You rob me of peace of mind, but you give up your own. Smart, really smart.

And Stu, you have a different definition of “free country” than I do. What about the people who want to feel “free” to use that stretch of road without feeling at risk of life or limb? So much for their “freedom”. To use a goofy but good analogy: If I were your neighbor and were free to shoot my gun in any direction I wanted, at any time, would you feel “free” to leave your house?

ken williams June 21, 2005 12:34 PM

As others have said, the Valentine1 (aka V1) is the best there is. Definitely worth the $. The a) directional arrows and b) ability to upgrade firmware make it the best buy. The Escort ZR3 laser shifter works great too – saved me dozens of times. Combine the two, and you have great protection. Blinder, Lidatek, and Whistler also make good laser “jammers”. Anything from Rocky Mountain Radar is junk – don’t waste your money.

Those of you who believe I need to drive the speed limit need to get in the right lane and shut yer holes. I live in Kansas/Missouri and frequently find myself on straight, flat 4 lane highways with no cars in sight and 5 miles visibility. I’ll be damned if I am going to drive the 55 mph speed limit in a blown 99 C5 Vette. My reward for working 100+ hrs/wk in the infosec industry is that I get to make the occasional 150mph blast with open headers through the cornfields of Kansas with the latest System Of A Down CD blasting on the stereo.

Besides, its much more important to drive safely wrt current conditions. I often find myself driving under the limit because of traffic conditions. I must be a pretty safe (and defensive) driver too because I have not been involved in any accidents in the past 10 yrs.

As far as speeding tickets go, we all know that its nothing more than a revenue generator for city and state govt.

Joe Buck June 21, 2005 12:45 PM

People don’t like to pay taxes, and this is even more true in red states. So many towns use speeding tickets to fund their local police force, and resort to extreme means (sudden changes in the speed limit with not-very-visible signs) to extract money from those who pass through. The locals know about the speed traps, so they only catch out-of-towners. This is even better, as the locals get a police force without having to pay any taxes for it; only the suckers pay (even those suckers who do their best to drive at the speed limit at all times).

Chris Hynes June 21, 2005 12:48 PM

Ken — you hit it on the head. It’s all about driving safely given the conditions on the road. Speed limits are an attempt to enforce this, but just end up limiting everyone to the capabilities of the lowest common denominator on the road — the 18 wheeler.

Dave, x — For every reckless or agressive driver weaving through traffic, there are timid drivers who don’t know what they’re doing, drivers who feel they have to enforce the rules of the road by going slower than the speed limit in the passing lane, and idiots who just get on the road, drive close to the speed limit, and ignore everything else. In fact, were the last three to drive properly, in most cases the first wouldn’t even be a problem. If people followed the LAW (at least where I live) which says that slower drivers must drive in the right lane, and reserves the left lane for passing, we would see much less of the “aggressive” drivers.

Anonymous June 21, 2005 12:58 PM

Y’know… the best way to avoid speeding tickets just MIGHT be to not go over the speed limit. 🙂 And incidentally, that’s probably the cheapest way, too, not to mention the safest.

fast and safe June 21, 2005 1:05 PM

Did any of you “speed kills” people ever consider that the reason so may people drive at 80 mph is that it may actually be safe to do so? Did you ever wonder why tickets are most often handed out on the freeways, which are the type of road with the LOWEST accidents per vehicle-mile?

Did any of you think to find out what the professionals think? The people whose job is to design the roads you drive on and to ensure they’re safe? The people who understand driver behaviour and road design and accident statistics?

Yup, those people are the traffic engineers. They set the international standard for speed limits at the 85th percentile speed. That’s the speed at which you are faster than 85% of the cars on the road. The reason for this number is that the 85th percentile drivers have the lowest accident rates. There is a famous study that shows that the slowest 15% have higher accident rates than the fastest 5%! The reason that faster drivers are safer is because they PAY ATTENTION. What a novel concept in driver education. Because the speed limits in this country are set lower than the 85th percentile speed, police are actually ticketing some of the safest drivers!

The insurance companies lobby to keep speed limits low in order to be able to levy surcharges from points. The public has been brainwashed into believing the “speed kills” drivel.

Many things in engineering and science are “counter intuitive”. Before speaking out and thinking “that guy who passed me doing 80 is a maniac”, read up first on the real science.

Just do a google search:

“speed kills” lies
“85th percentile” speed

Here is one hit:

Timm Murray June 21, 2005 1:16 PM

I’m an evil, terrorist speeder. I speed often and don’t care. You know how many accidents I’ve had in 6 years of driving? One. And that was because the other driver ran a stop sign under slippery conditions when I was actually going under the limit.

Speeders are not the biggest threat to road saftey. People who don’t pay attention are. People who don’t know how to negotiate a 4-way-stop are. People who tailgate at 70 are. But the local police departments don’t have an effective way to get money out of any of that, so they just go after speeders.

Mark J. June 21, 2005 1:22 PM

Germany is proof that speed limts are little more than compensation for poor road construction and entirely inadequate driver training. In a country like Germany, where roads are constructed to last (as opposed to being make-work projects), and driver training is taken SERIOUSLY, there is no need for speed limits. Speed limts are the USA’s way of compensating for screwing up the art of driving from Day One.

Speed doesn’t kill. Driver incompetence kills.

Scott June 21, 2005 1:58 PM

Speed is not as important as courtesy, the important part about speed is that it’s relatively easy to turn it into money. I speed, I like it, I have advanced car control training and a competition license, I don’t drive recklessly, I do drive wrecklessly, I don’t expect other people to go the speed I want to go, I have no problem with people driving the limit.

What I want:
Pass on the left, don’t pass on the right.
If you are not passing, move over.
Use your turn signals.
Pay attention all around your car and far into the distance ahead.
Do not tailgate.
Do not obstruct.

The police should enfource the above rules and we’d all become better/safer drivers.

Eric K. June 21, 2005 2:12 PM

Speed as a factor in accidents is very much overhyped. It’s easy for people to point at it and say “Speed bad!” because it makes some kind of sense that the faster you go, the more dangerous it is. Speed is the factor that is easiest to measure and therefore easiest to crack down on.

But the majority of accidents aren’t caused by excessive speed alone. They’re caused by other mistakes such as lack of use of turn signals, lack of awareness of surroundings, etcetera. Speed only aggravates an accident already in progress.

If the conditions leading up to the accident can be avoided, the issue of speed goes away. Pay Attention! Use your signals! Don’t cut across lanes! Don’t change lanes during turns!

And if you learn how to handle your car safely at higher speeds, then when you’re driving at lower speeds, you’re better able to handle the vehicle, more in control, more confident of your abilities, and safer overall.

Far too many people are afraid of their cars and never learn the car’s abilities and limitations, driving so conservatively all the time that the second anything goes wrong, all they can to is shrug and plow into a guardrail or another car when something unexepcted happens.

I drive fast, yes, but I obey each and every other driving law out there almost compulsively. As a result, I can handle sudden loss of traction, vehicles jumping out in front of me, vehicles cutting me off, sudden braking in front of me, unexpected hard bumps, obstacles in the road, both at higher speeds and the speeds that many naively call “safe”.

If you lack skill, NO speed is “safe”.

And I certainly agree with Scott in that if the basic rules of proper vehicle handling are enforced, we’d all have less to worry about, regardless of vehicle velocity.

phoenix June 21, 2005 2:14 PM

Even those who consider themselves among the most law-abiding citizens, occasionally venture past our arbitrarily-assigned speed limits. Under the wrong circumstances, this can turn Mr. Law-Abiding Taxpayer into a miscreant owing $150 or more, plus increased insurance costs. Not necessarily for unsafe driving, but for exceeding a posted limit.

To that end, I’ve always done what I can to protect myself. On long trips, I have both a RADAR detector (a very old BEL 590i that needs to be replaced soon) and a CB radio, not to mention a set of five very aware senses — which’ll do more to protect you than any amount of silicon and LEDs.

I also occasionally read a good book. One that I’ve recommended to many friends is A Speeder’s Guide To Avoiding Tickets, which was written by a former NY State Trooper. Used copies can be picked up for less than a buck if you know where to look — you can practically steal it now.

Anyway, to readers who look this message over and claim “oh, you habitual speeder, shame on you,” I’d say “please just read the book.” Or read any of the books on “Radar Roy”‘s site. Educate thyself a bit.

Eric K. June 21, 2005 2:22 PM

“There’s still no substitute for situational awareness, common sense, and pure, dumb luck…”
I’ve actually found an awesome substitute for all those things you mentioned:

Drive the fricking speed limit.

So, dave, your’e saying that if one drives the fricking speed limit, then you have absolutely no need for situal awareness, common sense, or pure, dumb luck?


Yes, that very much explains a lot of the drivers I see putting around at or under the limit, cutting across traffic without signals and without so much as a glance in a mirror. They’ve heard what you have to say and live by it.

Can’t say as I agree they’re anything remotely approaching ‘safe’.

JulainYorke June 21, 2005 2:40 PM

Im not saying that the government has each road pinned with the right speed limit, but I don’t agree with the idea that “people who drive practice driving fast become better drivers at high speeds than at low speeds.???

daves561 June 21, 2005 2:42 PM

“So, dave, your’e saying that if one drives the fricking speed limit, then you have absolutely no need for situal awareness, common sense, or pure, dumb luck?”

You snipped the context. The original post, and my response, were about speeding tickets, not safe driving. Read it again:

Mark J.:
“Those three things, along with a good detector, are what will keep you free of invitations to the Troopers’ Ball.”

“I’ve actually found an awesome substitute for all those things you mentioned:

“Drive the fricking speed limit.”

I’ll say it again, this time with less sarcasm:

If you drive the speed limit, you don’t get speeding tickets.

And you don’t spend money on radar detectors.


JulianYorke June 21, 2005 2:42 PM

Oops, some how I left part of my comment out –
In general speeding does = less safe. What is all this craziness about certain people being safer when they speed? I have heard similar arguments from people who say they drive better drunk! –
Kinda takes away from my point now 😉

mike June 21, 2005 3:16 PM

Julian –

The point isn’t that faster drivers drive safer when they speed. More like drivers who exceed the speed limit AND think about things enough to have radar detectors and use their brains are overall safer drivers.

Personally, I feel that speed limits are arbitrary and obnoxious laws. I will continue to drive well within MY safety envelope, and not cater to stupid laws.

The idea behind the original cannonball run was to prove that one could safely exceed the speed limits (by a large margin), safely. And that speed limits were NOT about safety, but a feel good measure that had little effect on traffic accidents. Much like the TSA not letting us carry nail files on airplanes.

Jarrod June 21, 2005 3:23 PM

In California, it’s far more important to drive with traffic than to drive the speed limit. Most highways have posted speed limits of 60 or 65, though no matter what the posted limits traffic will usually settle in between 70 and 75. There’s a stretch of I-15 near 395 that commonly runs over 90mph across all three lanes. Driving the posted limit (which I think is 70) is bound to cause problems.

If traffic is relatively open, I will cruise at 80 or so, though I do keep my eyes open for the CHP, and I use gears to slow down if I see them (brake lights attract notice). For the benefit of other drivers, I’m watchful of space, and use signals well in advance of movements.

Ari Heikkinen June 21, 2005 3:24 PM

Obviously, the best way to avoid speeding tickets is to drive by the speed limits! To me it would be extremely silly to spend ~$300 (plus $50+ for shipping) for a radar detector which only works if you’re lucky. But then again, that’s another industry that’s apparently getting lots of money from stupid people.

Rob June 21, 2005 4:14 PM

Ok, so y’all think that you’re better drivers than the rest of us and entitled, due to your vast skill and ability to know your limits, do ignore the posted legals speed limits. Fine. But how is that fair to the rest of us when you discover you’ve exceeded your ability and take innocent people with you? Using public roads is a privilage, not a right.

Scott June 21, 2005 5:25 PM

Saying people who buy radar detectors are stupid is simply ignorant. The fact is that police use radar to make money and the fact is also that a good radar detector will keep you from contributing to the local constabulary’s coffers. There is a reason all of the test drivers from Road & Track and Car & Driver have personal Valentine 1 radar detectors they move from car to car as they test them … they work. I speed most of time I drive on freeways/highways/expressways and have for years and have 0 tickets in the last 14 years (far below the supposed national average of one every 3 years) and for most of those years I have relied on my senses to look for a cop car pacing me and relied on radar to save me from speed traps … works like a charm if you have a good detector and police are lazy (so really all you need is a good detector).

Driving slow does not make you a good driver. My father was a good driver, now he’s old and slow and a bad driver.

Scott June 21, 2005 5:27 PM

Rob, so, if someone is speeding and someone else is stupid and the two get into an accident are you assuming that the speeder is at fault?

Woody June 21, 2005 5:28 PM


“But how is that fair to the rest of us when you discover you’ve exceeded your ability and take innocent people with you? Using public roads is a privilage, not a right.”

However, that can happen at any speed, at any time. Bright sunny day? What about that patch of roadway up ahead in deep shade? That turn in the road you can’t see around?

I drive a wide range of speeds, from 10 under posted to 15-20 over posted, depending on the road and conditions. I follow the “basic speed law” first, and the posted speed I take into consideration in unfamiliar areas as to an indication of why the speed might be what it is, and use it as a guidline, like the yellow signs on curves.

And in my truck, I go WAY slower than in my car, which has very different handling dynamics.

But as far as I’m concerned, basic speed law is the rule, and the speedlimit is a shortcut to make it easier to enforce the basic speed law with quantitative rules/measurements for those that are violating the basic speed law.

Basic speed law, at least as taught in michigan, was “don’t go too fast for conditions”. Don’t lose control or hit something that unexpectedly arrives in the road.

Scott June 21, 2005 5:36 PM

Woody, good point … I too follow the Basic speed law. I have never been in an accident I caused, and the two I have been in were in parking lots with people backing out of parking spaces while on their mobile phones and HUA.

James Bywater June 21, 2005 5:44 PM

“fast and safe” are you saying that you’re better off crashing into that unexpected truck pulling out of a driveway if you are going 85, rather than 55?

I think that the problem is also people not paying attention. But unfortunately those people do go too fast and end up killing other people. And the speed limits are an attempt to slow them down. This has the unfortunate side effect of slowing the “good” drivers down too, but I think it’s worth it.

If you’re in a real hurry to get there, get a helicopter.

Scott June 21, 2005 6:18 PM

James, any driver, regardless of their speed, is responsible for their own safety and the control of their vehicle. That said, the biggest problem is NOT speed but people who think that driving under the speed limit is all it takes to be safe and consequently have no problem talking on their mobile phone while eating, reading, putting on makeup, shaving, and tuning the radio. Just this week I was behind a driver who stopped in the middle of the fast lane of a 4 lane road to get a mobile phone out of her purse. She was decidedly not speeding, she was however a danger to her and others around her. Speed is far to easy to blame when it is not in the top 5 causes of accidents. Accidents per mile driven have consistently gone down year after year as cars get more capable, even though speed limits have gone up, and the largest single category of accidents is rear-end accidents where the following car was going the same speed as the leading car just before the accident.

Mark J. June 21, 2005 7:05 PM

“But then again, that’s another industry that’s apparently getting lots of money from stupid people.”

Speaking of stupid, you obviously haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about; the most common symptom of stupidity. My radar detectors have been extremely effective and have paid for themselves many times over.

If you ask me anyone who travels without one and doesn’t monitor their speed religiously is stupid. The cop will not care that you almost always drive at the speed limit. If you stray above it and he’s looking to fill the local coffers, you’ll get fined and you’ll be labeled a bad driver, just like anyone else.

$300 is cheap compared to insurance surcharges. A wise investment, IMHO.

Dylan June 21, 2005 7:55 PM

I worked with a guy (in Australia) who had his radar detector confiscated and was fined three times (each time he bought a new one.)

He still thought he was the smart one.

At the end of the day, speed is directly related to mortality rates in accidents. There is a linear relationship between your likelihood of suffering serious injury or death in an accident and the speed you are travelling when the accident occurs. The auto industry has worked very hard to increase the point at which every accident is a fatal one, but the relationship still exists.

There is also a linear relationship between speed and reaction time (independent of your individual reflexes, which act to offset your reactions.) The faster you travel, the more likely you are to kill yourself and others if you have an accident, and the less time you have to react to an unexpected event that may cause an accident.

The best solution to the problem of speeding I have ever seen suggested was to degrade the quality of the roads themselves. Make them narrower and poorer quality, and traffic will slow down. By building roads that can carry cars travelling at excessive speeds, we are encouraging drivers to take risks that they wouldn’t otherwise take.

Mike June 21, 2005 8:06 PM

I’m a habitual driver of the speed limit in WA state, and as a result, I have been hassled by scores of drivers, actually run off the road once, nearly run off several other times, and for my adherence to the speed limit, I was ticketed for speeding once because I was surrounded and passed by speeders, but the cop saw fit to punish me because I was near them and the cop was apparently too lazy to go after the real speeders. She had no proof that I was speeding so I fought it in court and won, but most people wouldn’t, and at that moment I decided that these laws were a complete joke because real safety has no bearing on their existence. Don’t believe it? Well, that is your right, and perhaps you believe that the “security” measures taken recently have helped security in airports too. Doesn’t make it true though. I don’t own a radar detector, and don’t plan to, but I know these speed limits are more dangerous in their current state (with only partial compliance), than a higher limit would be with greater compliance.

Mark J. June 21, 2005 8:55 PM

“…but I know these speed limits are more dangerous in their current state (with only partial compliance), than a higher limit would be with greater compliance.”

How very true. In Utah, where the limit was 80, I drove 80 and had few people passing and passed only a few. In other words, the traffic moved along at a more uniform speed. There was virtually no lane changing as most folks were happy to travel in one lane. It was a very safe driving environment. Here in Illinois the cops wreak havoc on the truckers so they tend to run about 55. But the cops ignore anyone in a car doing 70 or below. And there’s plenty of old farmer types plodding along at or below the truck speed limit. As a result, there’s a large speed gap between the fast and the slow. Much more dangerous.

Illinois just passed a law that makes it illegal to delay traffic in the left lane by refusing to move to the right to let cars pass. But I’ve seen more than one instance where a state trooper had to pass someone on the right and did nothing about it. Waste of legislative time.

Anonymous June 21, 2005 11:04 PM

PLEASE, people! Those who argue that speed kills, read a little bit about the SCIENCE.

one link:

Here are quotes from one study:


Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits

Report No. FHWA-RD-92-084 October 1992

U.S. Department of Transportation
Research, Development, and Technology
Federal Highway Administration Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
6300 Georgetown Pike McLean, Virginia 22101-2296


“The primary conclusion of this research is that the majority of motorists on the nonlimited access rural and urban highways examined in this study did not decrease or increase their speed as a result of either lowering or raising the posted speed limit by 4, 10, or 15 mi/h. In other words, this nationwide study confirms the results of numerous other observational studies which found that the majority of motorists do not alter their speed to conform to speed limits they perceive as unreasonable for prevailing conditions.”

“The data clearly show that lowering posted speed limits did not reduce vehicle speeds or accidents.”

“..it is apparent that the majority of highway agencies set speed limits below the average speed of traffic as opposed to setting limits in the upper region of the minimum accident risk band or about 85th percentile speed. This practice means that more than one-half of the motorist are in technical violation of the speed limits laws.”

“Once commonly cited reason for posting unreasonably low speed limits is public and political pressure”

“The data collected during this study indicate that there are no benefits, either from a safety or operational point of view, from establishing speed limits less than the 85th percentile speed.”

fast amd safe June 21, 2005 11:35 PM

James Bywater wrote:

“are you saying that you’re better off crashing into that unexpected truck pulling out of a driveway if you are going 85, rather than 55?”

James that is an oversimplification. First I would sure as heck not be doing 85, nor 55, on a road with driveways. That would be very unsafe. A road with driveways would be a residential road, and depending on visibility, I might do between 15 and 40. I might do 85 on a freeway with good visibility.

Have you read some of the links posted?

Personally the most common bad driving habits I see are inattention, and tailgating. Do you think it’s a coincidence that of the 4 people I know that have been in crashes lately, were rear-enders? In each case traffic on the freeway was moving between 45 and 0, and in each case prior to the crash the driver behind was moving at the same, low speed as the car in front.

In 3 of the 4 above cases, the police report said the driver in the rear was “driving at an excessive speed”. Sure they may have been doing 35 when they should be doing 0, but does that support the case that the freeway speed limits should stay at 65? Do you see how that BS would skew the statistics where the insurance cos say that 30% of accidents are speed related? Did you know that half of that oft-quoted 30% figure includes vehicles that were moving too slow?

The whole system is a scam. The speeding ticket system is a form of taxation without representation. Cops who write less than the average number of tickets get reprimanded. Judges never want to make a cop look bad in a courtroom, they need their support. The insurance industry makes money hand over fist. And so on.

Let me ask you, who is the safer driver, someone doing 85 on a freeway in light traffic, in a car in good condition with good tires, who pays attention, or a driver who does 65 and just latches onto the bumper of the car in front and sees nothing else? If a cop sees both drivers, guess who gets the ticket.

Some of the scariest drivers I’ve ridden with are slow, and they think they’re safe. They have very poor skills at anticipating potential problems. Poor “spider senses” if you will. They tailgate, or they sit in a pack with cars on all sides of them. They react very slowly to changing conditions.

Once I was driving on a freeway, and as usual I was passing most traffic. The fog set in and started getting thicker and thicker. I moved to the right lane and slowed down more and more until pretty soon I was doing 45. I kept thinking, I must be able to STOP IN THE DISTANCE I CAN SEE and KNOW TO BE CLEAR, because if there is a pileup up ahead, I damn well better be able to stop. Soon cars were passing me on the left. They were a train of cars, each following very close to the car in front. They were thinking that as long as they can see the car in front, they were safe. They should be able to brake if the car in front brakes. They did NOT think that if the first car hits an unmoving wall of cars in a pileup, they would all be in a multicar chain reaction crash, because they have no room to stop.

Blind adherence to speed limits makes people fall into the trap that they’re safe as long as they’re doing the speed limit. A better way is to let people get used to thinking about what a safe speed is given the conditions. They don’t realize that SOMETIMES THE SAFE SPEED IS LOWER THAN THE SPEED LIMIT.

Germany’s highways have much higher average speeds but has a lower death rate than the US. Their teen driving death rate is half of the US. Their driver’s license exam costs something like $1500 and two days, and emergency maneuvers are taught. Contrast this with the DMV where they don’t even ask you to merge on the freway. However their car insurance is typically cheaper. Who’s got it right?

Benny June 22, 2005 12:22 AM

I’m going to go out on a limb and venture that people who own a speed detector make up only a minority of the driving population. For the majority who do not own one, the fear of enforcement is enough to keep us driving at/near the legal speed limit most of the time. All else being equal, slower speeds = less damage done in accidents (according to what i remember from physics, anyway), so i have a hard time seeing this as a bad thing.

Will raising or eliminating the speed limit increase the number of safe drivers on the road? I do not think so. Education will, but raising/eliminating the speed limit certainly does not equal education.

I see several people advocate setting the speed limit at the 85th percentile speed. Must admit that i haven’t read the links yet, but the proposal doesn’t really make sense to me. If you raise the speed limit to be the 85th percentile based on current driving speed distribution, once most people begin driving at that new higher speed, won’t you have to raise the speed limit yet again for it to be the 85th percentile?

Germany seems to be a popular comparison. Again, i totally agree that better driver’s education would do a lot to curb driving accidents. However, that alone doesn’t argue against speed limits. Can someone prove that good education + speed limits will not produce results better than good education alone? Seems to me that’s what’d have to be done to do away with speed limits altogether.

Disregarding speed limits is a very seductive place to be, because to many people it implies that they have superior driving skills. I don’t doubt that this is true for many drivers, but there’s probably many more who believe it without really having the skills to back it up. And like a previous poster said, woe to that driver and everyone else near-by when reality intrudes.

Mot.ADV NSW, AUS June 22, 2005 1:01 AM

If you require a speed limit to ‘guide’ you how fast to drive, your a menace as far as I’m concerned, complicit in that negligence is ‘the state’ that simply doesn’t teach you enough of the art and of its fetish for bunching-up traffic on expressways.

Download and read your jurisdictions driver manual to keep up to date with rules and general advice.

Your personal contract with society should be to “not be involved in a crash” in your license lifetime. This means behaviour, European like lane-discipline, adequate warning issued to other traffic, mirrors, scanning and so on, and of course less ‘attitude’.

Chris Becke June 22, 2005 1:35 AM

I for one would not enjoy being responsible for posting a speed limit along a section of road. Should anyone die in an accident, and be found to ahve been travelling below my posted speed limit, well, I would feel responsible.

Setting unreasonably low speed limits would seem an “easy” way for the people responsible to assauge their conciences if and when someone dies in an accident: Quite obviously they were speeding.

The problem, very simply, is that the speed that minimises the chance of death as the result of an accident occouring, is not necessarily
the same as the speed that minimises the chance of being involved in an accident. (well, except when your speed is zero, but then you never leave your driveway, so thats moot).

YEAH June 22, 2005 2:30 AM

Speed limits no speed limits. People are all Human IE they mess up. Grandma will not go over 55 because frankly she probably couldn’t control the vehicle past that speed. Junior thinks he can control his car at 155. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Should you say grandma can’t drive because she isn’t in as big of a hurry as you are. Getting to the beauty parlor may be the only thing on her agenda for the day. on the other hand Joe Blow is late for work. Too many scenarios of people and thier expectations of what the world should do for them. Who’s right? Who knows?

James June 22, 2005 3:15 AM

“fast and safe” I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said. I just don’t buy into the idea that driving faster is safer than driving slower.

But one thing that bothers me on this thread, is the number of people who think it’s ok to break the law as long as they are “good enough drivers”, just because it’s convenient for them. A lot of laws make life less convenient for some people – doesn’t mean that we should break them!

If everyone stuck to the speed limit or below, who would argue that driving would be more dangerous than it is today? I understand that some police forces in some countries will ticket you even under the limit, but I think that on the whole this is not the case.

Daniel Nylander June 22, 2005 6:22 AM

Speedlimits are not the problem.
Drivers and/or road design is the key.

In my small country (Sweden, ~9 million people) we have some project running called “Vision Zero” which means, 0 deaths in traffic.


Sweden´s long-term road safety goal is that there should be no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. This goal was approved by the Swedish Parliament in 1997 and is based on the “Vision Zero” program.
Sweden is already among those countries with the lowest number of traffic fatalities in relation to its population. This is not enough, however. Swedish road safety work is based on a refusal to accept human deaths or lifelong suffering as a result of road traffic.

My $0.02

not safe June 22, 2005 7:20 AM

“If everyone stuck to the speed limit or below, who would argue that driving would be more dangerous than it is today? ”
it wouldn’t be any less dangerous. The majority of fatal accidents occur in towns at speeds below the speed limit, usually because someone’s forgotten to look before pulling out of an intersection.

JohnJ June 22, 2005 9:17 AM

@fast and safe:

“James that is an oversimplification. First I would sure as heck not be doing 85, nor 55, on a road with driveways. That would be very unsafe. A road with driveways would be a residential road, and depending on visibility, I might do between 15 and 40. I might do 85 on a freeway with good visibility.”

That is an oversimplification as well. Many rural highways have speed limits of 55 and have residential (and subdivision) driveways. My inlaws live on a 4 or so mile stretch of highway (not interstate) that connects two towns. The speed limit is 55 yet there are dozens of homes whose driveways end at the highway. In most cases, there isn’t even a wide shoulder that could be used to avoid a collision or go around someone waiting to turn left. And there certainly isn’t an on-ramp to allow cars from the homes to accelerate to something near 55 before merging. Traffic can be light but I would consider it moderate during most of the day and evening. Not only passenger cars but school buses and a lot of semi trucks as the towns do a bit of manufacturing.

Paul June 22, 2005 9:37 AM

Britian has a very good road safety record and road fatalities had been on the decline year on year for decades. After the introduction of speed cameras road fatalities have started to rise again. Traffic police have been replaced by cameras which do nothing to enforce driving standards.

Targeting speeding is an easy way to appear to be doing something and raise money.

Average speeds on some English motorways are easily over 100mph they are still some of the safest roads.

Saxon June 22, 2005 9:42 AM

There is a misconception as to what “85th percentile speed” is. It is NOT the speed which is faster than what 85% of the drivers are doing. It IS the speed that exactly 85% of drivers drive on that stretch of road (the speed they feel comfortable driving). I.e. if 85% of drivers on a particular stretch of freeway are doing 70, then 70 should be the limit on that stretch. That way, when you set the limit to the 85th percentile speed, you will have set that limit to the speed that the vast majority of drivers (85%) feel is a comfortable limit for that road.

Simon June 22, 2005 10:29 AM

Driver training is the key to safety and completely lacking in the US.
Just as there is no comparison between the skill level of a German or Swedish driver and an average US driver, there is no comparison in the driving exam.
The US is such a car culture that there is a feeling of entitlement towards the license to do so. I had to take a Californian driving test 4 years ago when I moved here and was stunned by its simplicity and short duration.
On the subject of speeds, people drive as fast as they feel safe, they risk compensate, add seatbelts or airbags to cars and people will drive faster. Put a big spike in the center of every steering wheel and watch as everyone drives very carefully indeed.

Carlos Gomez June 22, 2005 12:52 PM

Have you ever noticed that people who go slower than us are idiots and people who go faster are maniacs? – George Carlin

Studies have shown that increasing the speed limit does not necessarily cause everybody to just exceed the new speed limit. Just observationally, most of the accidents I see happen in rush hour when roads and highways are crowded. It isn’t speed, it’s poor situational awareness, combined with a lack of courtesy.

Anonymous June 22, 2005 1:08 PM

Saxon wrote:

There is a misconception as to what “85th percentile speed” is. It is NOT the speed which is faster than what 85% of the drivers are doing. It IS the speed that exactly 85% of drivers drive on that stretch of road (the speed they feel comfortable driving).

You need to brush up on statistics.


“Percentile The ranking (x) of a score, such that for any score with that ranking x% of cases would fall below that score and 100-x% of cases would fall above that score. For instance, if the 80th percentile on a test were a score of 75, 80% of the students would have a score of less than 75 and 20% a score of more than 75.”

fast and safe June 22, 2005 1:49 PM

James wrote:

“fast and safe” I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said. I just don’t buy into the idea that driving faster is safer than driving slower.

I never said “faster is safer”. I even gave an example of a situation where slower is safer. (slower than what many other drivers thought was safe in fog).

If wifey feels safe doing 65 on the freeway with an 85 speed limit, that’s fine, as long as she stays in the appropriate (right) lane, and she doesn’t tune out while driving like so many do.

Here is one of they key points in some studies:

People drive at a speed that they deem is appropriate, somewhat regardless of the posted speed limit. They balance risk of a crash from going too fast against extra time wasted by going slower.

I believe that consistently keeping the speed limits lower than the 85th percentile standard makes drivers tend to ignore posted speed limit more, and means they would tend to ignore a speed limit that is seemingly too low but is actually warrented due to circumstances that are not immediately apparent to the driver.

Like I suggested before, it makes drivers dumber, thinking that blindly following speed limits makes them safe, and (a) having poor situational awareness and anticipation skills and (b) NOT RECOGNIZING WHEN THE SAFE SPEED IS ACTUALLY BELOW THE POSTED LIMIT. The fog story I recounted was on a freeway that’s notorious for multicar crashes.

I’d say it also promotes a distrust and distaste for Law Enforcement and “the system”.

Some people who drive the speed limit do so only because they feel they don’t want to break the law. Some people drive faster. You have a speed differential. If you raised the speed limit you’d have fewer of those drivers and speed differentials would be reduced.

Also, notice how people drive in “clumps” late at night, following each other closely. I hate being in those because it doesn’t feel safe being surrounded by other cars when there are vast open spaces between those clumps. I believe those people clump because they don’t want to risk a ticket by going slightly faster. If the speed limits were appropriate, the people who want to go slightly faster would do so and those clumps would dissipate.

John J wrote:

Many rural highways have speed limits of 55 and have residential (and subdivision) driveways.

A driver with good situational awareness would realize that there are driveways that cars could suddenly come out of, and would slow down appropriately when approaching them. If said driveways are not easily visible, in a perfect world there would be signs that say “55 speed limit, driveways ahead” when approaching them, and the limit would also be 85 or whatever, where appropriate in long stretches with no driveways.

Benny wrote:

Must admit that i haven’t read the links yet,.. If you raise the speed limit to be the 85th percentile based on current driving speed distribution, once most people begin driving at that new higher speed, won’t you have to raise the speed limit yet again for it to be the 85th percentile?

I saw a UK study that showed that this is true but only to a very small extent, where doing a survey a 2nd time raised the 85th percentile speed by ~ 5 mph, then a 3rd time showed a change of 1-2 mph, at which point it was stopped. The reason for this is the measurements are skewed by “speed limit sticklers”.

So it’s not “once MOST people drive at the new higher speed”, it’s a statistical thing where a small part of the population skew the results slightly. Pls. do read the links.

PEOPLE THERE IS SCIENCE BEHIND CORRECT SPEED LIMITS. Do not be swayed by emotion. Pls. read what the professionals say, the traffic engineers.

Here’s another tidbit. The “design speeds” of our freeways is 90 mph – and this was with 1960s cars. Even a 1990 econobox civic in good shape with decent tires is a lot more stable and safer and controllable at 90 mph than the average semi-luxury 1960s car. Note that the design speed is different from safe speed based on sight lines around crests and curves, so I’m not saying the speed limit should be 90 on all parts of a freeway. There are freeway crests and curves where I live where 90 mph feels unsafe because you can’t STOP IN THE DISTANCE YOU CAN SEE AND KNOW TO BE CLEAR.

fast and safe June 22, 2005 1:56 PM

Simon wrote:

On the subject of speeds, people drive as fast as they feel safe, they risk compensate, add seatbelts or airbags to cars and people will drive faster.

This is a myth. I saw a study showing that people don’t drive faster or more riskily knowing they have airbags. They DO however drive faster in a car that feels more stable at speed, which would be appropriate. (Think driving an SUV with worn shocks vs. a Lexus sedan)

bill clay June 22, 2005 2:16 PM

To all the “just drive the speed limit” folks, I sometimes wish they could put a device in all cars so that if you go just 1mph over the speed limit, it would deduct the appropriate $$$ from your bank account. You’d change your position real quick!

prefers not to use brakes June 22, 2005 4:43 PM

I have a wonderful 30 minute country road commute to work each day. The road most of the time has very little shoulder as it cuts through farmlands in the Virginia Piedmont. The road has its share of accidents– almost exclusively single car affairs. During one unfortunate spike where a cluster of accidents occured in a few week period, the “road” started to make the local news. A few months later the speed limit was reduced by 5-10 MPH along the entire commute.

The accident rate has not reduced that I can perceive after several months with the reduced limit in force. The people running off the road are doing so because they are unattentive. The extra fractional second they might be benefitting from by travelling slower is not making the difference between recovery and a ditching. In fact, it is not uncommon for me to find myself behind someone that has to “catch” their car getting the right pair in the gravel by jerking back into the lane only to watch them repeat the maneuver a little later. Apparently these close calls are not enough of an alarm bell!

David Robinson June 22, 2005 9:41 PM

The problem with driving fast (speeding or not) is that you can’t fool physics.

The kinetic energy that must be dissipated in a car crash is proportional to the square of the velocity (k = mv^2). It is not a linear relationship. If you drive twice as fast there is 4x the energy that must be dissipated. The kinetic energy is what bends metal and crushes bodies.

Driving fast does not necessarily mean that you are more or less likely to crash. But it does mean that the consequences of a crash are much greater. Driving in many ways is a risk trade off between personal gratification (the perception of less travelling time) and collective safety. Different people have different risk profiles.

Every driver should study fluid dynamics as part of their driver education. They will quickly discover that speeding in peak hour traffic is pretty pointless. Your arrival time is basically determined by your departure time, and the state of the traffic. You cannot control the traffic state, which leaves departure time as the single most important determinant of travel time.

Scott June 22, 2005 9:55 PM

It’s not just education, it’s enforcement policy. People simply can not learn what they need in 2 days of classroom, and put it into practice, enforcement must support the rules of courtesy and attentiveness.

If you tailgate you should get a ticket … if it happens to someone you know you will tailgate a little less, if it happens to 5 people you know you will not tailgate. The same goes for turn signals, and passing on the right/obstructing on the left.

Germany, the example us “speeders” like to use passes out more non-courtious driving tickets than speeding tickets, as a result they have more aware, more courtious drivers and have fewer fatalities at much higher speed limits.

Courtiousness requires attentiveness, attentiveness makes you a better driver regardless of your skill at car control or the speed you choose to drive.

fast and safe June 23, 2005 12:21 AM

David Robinson wrote:

You cannot control the traffic state, which leaves departure time as the single most important determinant of travel time.

That’s mostly true when traffic is heavy, but when traffic is lighter, progress is significantly impeded by left lane campers.

Driving on the highways in France, Italy, and Germany is a revelation. One can drive at his or her comfortable speed, with no fear of tickets, and drivers stay out of the left (passing) lane. Drivers there seem to be more aware of surrounding traffic, and of their impact their actions have. They’re simply have more courtesy.

Benny June 23, 2005 1:53 AM

And that’s great, no doubt about it. Once US drivers have been imbued with courtesy, situational awareness, and generally better driving skills, whether through better driver’s education or another means, THEN we can talk about raising/repealing speed limits. Unless you have found studies that show that raising/repealing speed limits alone will make for safer drivers, less frequent and/or less serious accidents.

prefers not to use brakes June 23, 2005 10:48 AM

“The problem with driving fast (speeding or not) is that you can’t fool physics.

The kinetic energy that must be dissipated in a car crash is proportional to the square of the velocity (k = mv^2). It is not a linear relationship. If you drive twice as fast there is 4x the energy that must be dissipated. The kinetic energy is what bends metal and crushes bodies.”

We are generally not talking about cars crashing into walls. The kinetic energy that is being dissipated in highway accidents is the differential between the two vehicles getting together and is not related to the absolute speed of any individual vehicle. It’s quite different than the equation above.

Arturo Quirantes June 24, 2005 5:22 AM

“The kinetic energy that must be dissipated in a car crash is proportional to the square of the velocity (k = mv^2). It is not a linear relationship. If you drive twice as fast there is 4x the energy that must be dissipated. The kinetic energy is what bends metal and crushes bodies.”

We are generally not talking about cars crashing into walls. The kinetic energy that is being dissipated in highway accidents is the differential between the two vehicles getting together and is not related to the absolute speed of any individual vehicle. It’s quite different than the equation above.”

Well, kinetic energy is mv^2 / 2, actually. Anyway, many accidents happen when a car finds an obstacle and have to brake down to zero. And not only the kinetic energy that goes with the square of speed, also the energy that must dissipated in the braking process, and therefore, the space needed to brake. Double speed means you need four times more space … plus the stretch you travel during your reaction time (we’re no Superman, are we?). Even during bumps at non-zero final speed, things get worse at higher speeds. The guy in front had to panic-break? Better have ample space for your own good.

I myself had that problem in a multiple collision. I had plenty of space, and yet was barely able to brake down (the guy behind me was not, doh!).

We can argue about how many mph we can handle, or whether the Sheriff Lobo squads are just after our bucks, but physics is physics. At at high speeds physics indeed does work against you. And the laws of physics are something you just don’t beat in court.

fast and safe June 24, 2005 8:00 PM

Benny wrote:

Once US drivers have been imbued with courtesy, situational awareness, and generally better driving skills, whether through better driver’s education or another means, THEN we can talk about raising/repealing speed limits.

1) You haven’t read the study that shows that speeds did not change appreciably when speed limits were raised or lowered

2) Raising the speed limit TO REFLECT REALITY will simply decriminalize the people who are technically speeding. The speeding ticket revenue stream would disappear and if the same effort were kept on traffic enforcement, cops could be going after dangerous behaviour such as tailgating and inattentive driving.

fast and safe June 24, 2005 8:03 PM

Oh and

3) There IS one such study. It was called the “Montana Paradox”



Summary of the effects of no daytime speed limits:

  1. Fatal accident rates on these highways reached an all time low in modern times.
  2. On 2 lane highways with no posted limits the frequency of multiple vehicle accidents dropped 5 percent.
  3. Seat belt usage rose to 88% percent, with only a secondary enforcement law.
  4. Posted limits and their enforcement, had either no or a negative effect on traffic safety.
  5. As predicted by the engineering models, traffic speeds did not significantly change and remained consistent with other western states with like conditions.

  6. The people of Montana and its visitors continued to drive at speeds they were comfortable with, which were often speeds lower than their counter parts on high density urban freeways* with low posted limits.

  7. The theory behind posting speed limits on this classification of road is to reduce conflicts in traffic flow, thereby reducing accidents.

MONTANA PARADOX: Is that the desired safety effect from posting speed limits was achieved by removing them.

—end quote—

lwpat June 28, 2005 1:09 PM

The fact is that auto accidents and their severity are continuing to decrease while the number of vehicles and the miles driven continue to increase. This while studies show that the majority of drivers exceed the speed limit on a regular basis and there are calls for tougher enforcement of the speed laws.

The truth is that speeding tickets are an 8 billion dollar industry in the United States and speeding tickets are more about revenue than safety. Targeting agressive drivers has more of a positive impact on safety than targeting speeders.

One example of a positive program is now in effect in Washington State where troopers actually ride along in 18 wheelers and videotape agressive drivers.

An excellent example of pure revenue is Washington DC which issues more speeding tickets than any state. In fact if you live there your chance of getting a speeding ticket is 80% where the next highest state is around 6%. The difference is that these are camera speeding tickets with a 50.00 fine and nothing on your record.

Grey Bird June 29, 2005 1:19 PM

To “fast and safe”: The study may say that raising the speed limit doesn’t have any effect on speed limits, but my experience has not shown this to be true. A road I travel every day had the speed limit raised by 10 mph, and the average speed that I saw also went up by about 10 mph. (Most people in the area I live in speed by at least 10 mph, and unlike what the speeders here claim many are decidedly not more aware of conditions around them than non-speeders.) As you might guess, I don’t generally speed. The only speeding tickets I got when I did speed, were when I was very tired and so not paying sufficient attention to see a speed trap in time. Since I was used to speeding, I was unintentionally speeding and got caught. On every occasion, I had started out not speeding and had not intended to speed, but unconsciously increased my speed to what “felt right”. So I stopped speeding and retrained myself to feel right at what was posted. I also make a point of consciously reevaluating conditions around me more frequently when I feel tired and am driving. Since I am not speeding anymore, I have some additional reaction time available if there is a hazard I need to avoid. As far as speeders go, go ahead and speed, just don’t expect me to speed because you want to do so. I only get into the right lane to pass or exit on a left exit, so most of you say you wouldn’t have a problem with that. But again my experience shows differently. I continually run into people who are not only speeding, but going faster than conditions allow who then tailgate me because I am not going as fast as they think I should be. (They want me to get out of their way – pull off the road if it is not multilane, etc.) There are a lot of sharply curved roads with no shoulder around here with 30-40 mph speed limits that are at least in part justified at being that low. There are also people here who want to go 50-60 mph ( or more) on these same roads, and will go straight through an s-curve rather than staying in their own lane and slowing down to make the curve.

My opinion: If you want to speed, speed. Just be courtious and careful when you do so, and don’t flip me off because I won’t move into the left lane so you can pass me on the right…

Alex D May 2, 2006 8:21 PM

i have a question. I have been told that when you pass a speed limit sign, you have 500 feet to reduce your speed before a police officer can ticket you. Is this information true. please e-mail me your answers to lt_peabody@yahoo.com

blackbird May 11, 2006 2:57 AM

i am not in favor of speed limits,justa way to collect money. drive at aspeed you feel comfortable, not wreckless,drive wreckless and get a really big ticket or worse.

Buddyfoo August 21, 2006 11:10 AM

The highways out west and the Autobahn basically have no limit and are very safe. Slow drivers not fast ones create accidents. The problem inn this country is we allow the media to create group think. The only data collected is the fast crash data just like the only data collected on seat belts is those injured while not wearing one. No data is collected on slow drivers causing crashes or the number of drivers injured by seatbelts each year. Get a brain and think !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

Transporter November 29, 2006 5:22 PM

Heres my thoughts on driving-
-pay attention
-use turn signals
-have a car that can travel the speed you want to – safely (not an SUV, key point – good suspension)
-only speed on straight roads
-speeding in incliment weather is a crash waiting to happen
-dont tailgate
-wear your seatbelt ALWAYS
-dont drive with any mind altering drug (alcohol,drugs,etc.)
I personally speed a lot – i have lots of experience doing so – i have never wrecked – i have never received a ticket – i do not have a radar detector – i have never gotten in the way of another driver

TIM February 21, 2007 11:58 AM

Just some tips and observations of cops locations and schemes I have seen and observed in all my years of driving. When driving in alot of traffic always drive the same speed as the traffic, your safe doing that. Cops aren’t going to try and enter bumper to bumper traffic that is doing 75 mph in the middle of a rush hour. When your driving in off peak hours and your for the most part alone on the road that is when you should really BEWARE!!!! of your speed. Your are easy pickings for speeding when no one is on the highway around you. Which really is annoying cause you can drive 80 and 85 at that time of night and not be bothering a soul and you can easily get put on high risk insurance and pay a huge fine and your literally not bothering another soul on the freeway. Patrolman can easily clock your speed and catch you. Between 10pm and 3am is prime time revenue generation for there is no other traffic to get in a cops way at those times of the evening especially on major freeways in a city. Cops will hide behind guardrails, bushes, signs and trees at the bottoms of hills on freeways especially at off peak hours on the freeway. Also cops seem to like to check your speed miles from the next exit ramp so you can’t leave the freeway and that gives the cop time to catch you. Also keep your sun visor down at ALL times to keep photo radar cameras and intersection cameras from spying on you and seeing your face. Photo radars are becoming more popular try to not let any road camera get a good look at your face. A photo radar unit that only takes a picture of your chest and neck is useless. Photo radar units are almost always put in a 30mph or 25mph speed zoned roads late at night, (safety for kids and people yea right no one is out at that time of night), Photo radar units work very well on straight roads with 30 mph postings so BEWARE of these kinds of speed limits. Photo Radar Units from what i have seen are usually inside white mini vans with tinted windows and sometimes you can see pictures being taken of cars way ahead of you but beware anytime your on a long straight stretch of 30mph or 25mph road late at night photo radar units are hard to see they are very sneaky with these units and there placement. If you live in Denver, Co or boulder, Co Beware of these photo radar units in side streets. Anytime you see a 30mph zone or a 25 mph zone OBEY that speed limit at all costs I know it sucks to drive that slow but its deliberately meant to make you speed and freely give away your hard earned money. In summary when in a large amount of traffic your safe from getting a ticket for cops aren’t going to mess with even trying to catch speeders in that situation, when your driving in off peak hours and no is around you is when your going to need to really beware of your speed. As Clint Eastwood said in one of his Movies. A man alone is easy prey. Also that is very true for government very few drivers on the road are easy prey.


will the third May 15, 2008 10:38 AM

wow. what a lot of reading. here are my thoughts. with the standards we have today, we will always have safe drivers and unsafe drivers, all sharing the same roads. as long as we continue to not properly educate and train our drivers, and continue to not restrict those who choose to drive unsafely due to lack of good judgement, physical ability or mental ability, we will always have both types sharing the same roads. due to this fact, I believe that we should continue to keep speed limits to help accommodate for both. does it work? no. does it help? yes. does it help by much? no. America should begin properly educating and training it’s drivers, and should also begin punishing those who drive unsafely. education, training, good driving practices, courtesy and good road maintenance/design are all key to reducing road fatalities. less distractions, less drugs, less alcohol, more sleep, more training, more education, more courtesy, better practices, and MORE ENFORCEMENT AGAINST UNSAFE DRIVING. to the law enforcement agencies: please start ticketing those tailgating, left lane hanging, blind spot hanging, cell phone using, no signal using, pulling out of front of you, high beaming, broken headlighting, broken taillighting, broken turn signaling, eating, non signaling, UNSAFE drivers out there who seem to think that speeding drivers are the only ones who can be unsafe. every one of those individual factors cause more accidents than the factor of speeding. I drive about 1,000 miles a week, night and day. more miles than some of you, less miles than the rest. regardless of more or less than you, it’s still a lot of driving. I would say that about 95% of the near accidents, and actual accidents I have seen, as well as been involved in, were all from factors other than speeding. more to the law enforcement agancies: I know you can’t be everywhere at once, and I don’t mean to sound like I think you are not doing your job, but when you see some unsafe driving, TICKET THEM. I don’t care what their excuse is, unsafe is unsafe. if they are being unsafe in front of you, then they are being unsafe elsewhere and need a little nudge to remind them to practice safer driving. remind them that every choice they make on the road can be life altering for the other drivers near them. that is why we are to serve and PROTECT. to the law makers and budget controllers: GIVE THESE AGENCIES WHAT THEY NEED. that could be your spouse, child, relative or friend that gets killed by the unsafe driver. heck, it could be that rude doctor that you don’t like, that gets killed, therefore ending his ability to later save your life when you need him. again, we ALL share the same roads, so let’s ALL take responsibility. I am a human, and I approve this message.

Tom October 27, 2008 8:45 PM

It’s about money. Cities and states acrue allot of revenue via tickets and the way to handle this is not to get mad, but to get even. Everyticket you receive is redeamable for one NOT Guilty verdict the next time you serve on a jury. You will never see the other eleven people again and it costs the state a fortune, definitely more than your ticket, to re-try the case. The lost revenue cuts into the raises the police receive and upgrades to equipment required to do the job. When you are on a jury you have more power than anyone else in the courtroom INCLUDING the judge.
Use that power.

Paul May 6, 2009 12:39 PM

One study I read showed that the posted speed limit had little impact on how fast drivers travel on a given road. It went on to explain that the greatest danger on the road is not speed, but variable speeds.

The safest speed was determined to be that speed at which the 85% percentile was driving.

When the speed limits were raised to near or above the speed at which 85% of the cars were travelling, compliance was almost 100%. Drivers did NOT drive the obligatory 5 to 10 mph above the posted limit. OTOH when speed limits were posted well below the speed at which 85% of the drivers were travelling- non-compliance skyrocketed to 67%.

In other words- common sense– the speed at which the vast majority of drivers regard as safe and reasonable for a given stretch of road under the conditions– is the main determinant of driver speed.

Which brings me to my point: the safest drivers focus less on posted speed limits, and more on moving safely with the flow of traffic.

Others certainly have a right to “obey the law”, however it has been shown that this doesn’t necessarily improve anyone’s safety- perhaps least of all their own. These slower drivers should not obey the laws selectively– they should also regard the posted “SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT” signs that are present in most States 😉

Jed May 31, 2010 3:51 PM

I agree that in most cases, when the speeding limit is raised, there tends to be less speeders. This is due to the fact that most people who drive the same commutes day after day (and obey the speed limits) get ‘comfortable’ with a particular speed. If the limit is increased by 10 mph, the regular commuters (who may have gone 5-8 mph over the limit comfortable, now continue to go that same speed. On the other hand, over time, as new drivers hit the road at the new speeds, overall speed average does increase, and the % of speeders on the road will always gradually increase (if there are no anti speed mechanisms in place) until they hit a plateau.

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