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How should speed limits be set?

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by dan, Sep 4, 2005.

  1. An interesting recent Canadian report (Review and Analysis of Posted Speed Limits and Speed Limit Setting Practices in British Columbia) delivered a few truths about how speed limits should be set. Perhaps our governments should take notice.

    The report based all it's facts on 85th Percentile rules, which is the speed which 85% of the vehicles are not exceeding. This is a long held road engineering principle that has in recent years been overriden by politicians in a misguided effort to reduce road tolls. It also recommends greater use of basic speed laws, which do not rely on limits or signs, but place the onus square on the driver to act appropriately,

    I think some of the facts in this report would be lost on our legislators... concepts such as personal responsibility went out years ago. This report is worth a browse, even if many of it's common sense ideas are too radical for our country. Again, common sense is a dirty word in this country....

  2. common sense is also unfortunately on the wain, most young drivers and riders (under 25) seem to have no concept of common sense (i know i didnt) it stems from the fact that at this age we still see our selfs as immortal and that only doddery old farts in thier crappy saloon cars need to stick to these draconian speed laws.

    i am not saying that i am physically better at rideing my motorcycle than i was when i was 25, but i am a much better judge of safety than i ever was.

    and the 85% rule only works if 85% of road users can make this safety descision, unfortunately it seems closer to 50%

    just my 2c worth
  3. i think maybe its close
    but i think all shit drivers shouldnt be allowed in the right lane unless proven worthy.
    bikers like ourselves can ride as we like, and do the 15 min ride to work in 7 cause i know it can be done
  4. hmmmmm those sneaky canuks come up with some commonsense ideas. So Dan, if legislators were to take heed of this, what would YOU recommend as speed limits for roads, in the cities and in the country areas?? <Not arguing, asking>
  5. I like the idea of measuring the speed of all road users, working out an average, then booking anyone significantly above OR below that value.
  6. Unfortunately, as said, our legislators don't trust us to police ourselves and observe a "sensible" speed limit.

    As the Professor used to say, "Why is this so?"

    The answer is, as someone else has posted, that we have proved that we don't deserve to be given the privilege. We abouse every privilege we are given and so legislators have taken away that privilege and we now live according to what THEY regard as being right for us.

    I think the sound you hear is the stable door clanging shut LONG after the horse has bolted.

    And before anyone asks, I think that we, as motorcyclists, have been just as guilty as the much-maligned car drivers.

    Edited to remove an obvious candidiate for the "Lost Consonant" thread....
  7. Interestingly I found the freeways surrounding Toronto to be the scariest I've driven on, in any country. This is because they suffer serverly from the speed differential problems created by setting speed limits too low.

    They are a good example of how not to set speed limits.

    The second worst freeways were NSW, where the safetycrats have put less then 110 in certain areas.

    The best were the 140 km/h freeways of Europe. Everyone drives between 130-150 km/h, which gives a nice narrow window of speed differentials.

    Also Arizona (one of the tri-states anyway), with 80MPH had a nice narrow range too.

    If our politicians had open minds our freeways should be 140 too, for safety.
  8. Our politicans DO have open minds....and everything has fallen out!!

    You make some excellent points, mate, as usual.
  9. ty. Looks like we've been hamstrung by the rain.

    Yeah this constantly lowering speed limits is one of my frustrations. It's a case of slower is less safe, but we don't have an opposition with the balls to oppose stupid road policies.

    Now they are looking at removing the 70 and 90 zones, limits that were introduced to make limits more realistic, but were generally used in a move to more conservative limits, by reducing, rather then increasing.

    You can bet when they remove them more then half will be reduced to the lower, rather then increased to the higher option.
  10. We'll start somewhere simple. Go find a strech of road that has a speed limit of 110kph. Then find an almost identical stretch with a limit of 100kph. You can use sensible reasoning and conclude that the millions of vehicle trips are being completed safely at 110kph could apply to the 100kph zones. Have a look at Germany, Italy, even some US states, all are driving their cars at 130-140kph or more.

    Some are under the impression that 120kph is unsafe because it is illegal - well, most of us have done a lot more than that and lived to tell the tale. There will always be outliers - unroadworthy cars, irresponsible drivers, buses doing 40kph - why design your speed limits around them, and penalise responsible drivers?

    A good place to start:

    - Maximum speed limits are set for ideal road, traffic, and environmental conditions.
    - A speed limit should seem too fast for a majority of users or it is not a maximum limit.

    Currently, if you surveyed drivers on most freeways they would tell you that the are comfortable driving at 20kph over the current posted limit (and on roads where there isn't rigid enforcement, often do). A limit should be a hard limit, and the majority of people feel unsafe going over it - not afraid they'll get booked.

    What about bad conditions? With a higher maximum limit, the governments existing policy finally becomes sensible across the board:

    My answer? I reckon if you wanted a hard limit, around 130-140kph on 3+ lane freeways. But for individual roads: survey drivers, consult road engineers, and use the 85th percentile rule (unfortunately this would be skewed by existing enforcement), and remember:

    - A speed limit should be set so that the majority of motorists observe it voluntarily and enforcement can be directed to the minority of offenders.
  11. So, it's a "consensus" approach, then?

    OK, I'm with you; we survey a wide range of motorists about a wide range of roads over a wide range of differing conditions and from that we derive our speed limits. (of course there are many, many more variables to take into account than just these)

    I agree in principle that this is a great idea. However, implementing it and actually gathering that data would be a nightmare and would, inevitably, end up being the subject of claim, counter-claim, legal and ethical aregument and interminable discussion leading to a totally stalled process.

    Unfortunately, while we live in a democracy, it is now such a complicated one that true democracy is impossible.

    I'd love to see this work, but I just can't see how you could implement it.

    Someone has to take responsibility and say, "This is what it is going to be" and, unfortunately, our bureaucrats are doing just that.
  12. I reckon someone said the same thing about electoral voting once... :)
    Aside from a vote of speed limits, simply gathering 85th percentile data and adjusting based on that is a great start. We live in an age of technology where you could even create a radar equipped speed limit sign that adjusted itself to 85th (or 50th for that matter) percentile by measuring the speed of general populace. If people slowed down (which the govt trusts we do) in bad conditions or heavy traffic, it could adjust to that.

    Constructive ideas are out there, but I think that the lure of the almighty dollar from the speed camera revenue is too great for common sense to prevail.
  13. Interesting thought. I mean you know me well enough to know that I am not in agreement with the way that the laws are being framed at present.

    Applying the technology is a good call; as for the expense of doing so, I wonder.

    For example. Trials of flashing signs that warn motorists that they are entering a school zone have been taking place in NSW for a couple of years now and the data unequivocally says that they work.

    However, the RTA is refusing to fund them for all school zones saying it is too expensive. Some schools are doing fund-raisers through their P&C's so that they can buy them themselves, but most schools can't afford that.

    Your "radar-equipped" signs might be a similar case.
  14. Dan, you CAN'T seriously be suggesting that governments would rather collect money from speed infringements than keep a lid on accident costs by legislating for a more sensible speed limit regimen? I think the problem is that they have access to all sorts of studies, like the one you state, and find one that suits the present "nanny" mentality and fashion policy based on them, rather than real needs. (Could be wrong though!)
  15. I tend to agree with you Hornet. If you asked VicRoads why we can't raise the limit on the Geelong Road, they would quote a few studies here and there and basically tell us that it would cost lives to do so. Why? Basically, the governments speed policy is for every 10kph slower you travel, you reduce your risk of a fatal accident by 10%. Now, on the surface, it would be easy to assume that going slower reduces your risk of accident. It doesn't. The research they are quoting actually shows that when and accident occurs, the result will be lessened by a 'softer' impact (that is just simple physics). So basically that is our approach to road safety. Don't hit to hard. The problem is they ignore the fact that lower limits don't affect the road toll - people can and do die at 40kph impacts, and lower limits & cameras actually can inhibit the free flow of traffic and cause accidents.

    In the face of these two compelling arguments, what would you as a politican do? Our pollies are taking the easy way out - the easy to enforce way, the profitable way, and the responsible-looking way. It's only a matter of time before someone looks at the figures and realises it's a crock...
  16. Who came up with this fanciful conclusion?? It surely can't be supported by hard evidence?? There may be a limitation in injuries by a lowering of speed, but how there can be a linear and constant relationship between lower speeds and lower deaths?? How do these idiots reconcile that car RACING speeds are RISING all the time but deaths and serious injuries have been consistently dropping?? Surely it's not about the speeds in this case but impoved primary and secondary safety in the vehicles (leaving aside ANY consideration of driver expertise, etc?)
  17. You CAN'T extrapolate racing data and apply it to the road. They are totally different environments. WAY too many variable factors, WAY too small a sample.
  18. There is some physics to their conclusion, but as I said it's totally misinterpreted and misapplied to real life. They talk about crashes in the context of when not if someone will crash. For a govt committed to road safety, this doesn't sound like a good starting approach. The researchers could basically take a car, slam it into something hard at different speeds, and the assess the injuries sustained at each speed. Clearly the risk of death would decrease the slower you hit. But, they say nothing about reducing the risk of having an accident in the first place - and that is where their reasoning falls down. Think about it - hitting something at 100 compared to 110 will likely have the same fatal result - moreover they need to use nonsensical adds which see trucks pulling out on flowing traffic in unlikely situations in order to justify their finely calculated braking distance arguments. As you may know, in the UK, introduction of lower limits and speed cameras has caused more accidents - and also deaths - than ever before - but people are also going slower than ever before!
  19. Because as long as they concentrate on SECONDARY safety rather then PRIMARY, they can continue to milk the cow.
  20. make cars safer, then increase the speedlimit ten fold