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No Speed Limit Safety Paradox

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by jd, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. Came across a reference to the fact that at one point the US state of Montana actually had no speed limits. After a search I came across this article outlining the accident rate during this period which makes for some interesting reading. For the lazy a quick summary of the effects of having no speed limits were found to be:

    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. The paradox is that the desired effect from posting speed limits was achieved by removing them.

    Also during this 6 year period, Montana's rural interstates daytime speeds (no speed limit) were consistently lower (on average 5-10 mph and more) than the speeds being reported on many sections of Southern California's 65 mph posted urban interstates.

    Makes you wonder just what effect the strict enforcement of arbitrary speed limits really has on road safety.
  2. Interesting. The NT has no speed limits on highways, and the main cause of their fatalities is fatigue, not speed. The logic behind their lack of speed limits, i.e. 'longer journeys = more fatigue = more fatalities', would probably apply to a vast empty state like Montana.
  3. And why was that law repealed? The cops and courts couldn't nail the minority of traffic offenders in as easily as they would like - too many loop holes. Even though the road toll went down, the beauracracy won (as they have here). It makes you really despise the TAC crap we are spoon fed daily.
  4. I'm not disagreeing statistcally, but I would have thought the primary reason for deaths in the NT would be booze.

    Speed IS an issue, there, though, that's why the car rental companies are running $10,000 insurance excesses if you get one of their vehicles, because people were renting a car, and ramming it into the scenery at vast speed within a few kays of Darwin!!!
  5. Do you have any evidence whatsoever to back this statement up?
  6. There are heaps of other risk factors (don't always assume it's speed, or you'll get offered a job at the TAC :D ) - remember they are hiring out cars to people to drive in some of the most rugged terrain in aus - corrugated dirt roads which can wreck cars heaps of other stuff, and theft and vandalism are also issues. Oh and btw, not many of the car rental places have a $10,000 excess! :)

    Booze and fatigue are the biggest factors, as in most other states. I would speculate most of NT's road toll comes in the speed limited areas in and around darwin (intersections etc), rather than cars perplexingly shooting off into the scrub along the dead straight stuart hwy.
  7. Oh yes....I agree, booze is numero uno in the Territory. I was referring to a report specifically on essentially straight rural roads with no speed limits. On these roads, the primary cause seems to be fatigue, not speed. I suspect that most of the accidents happen on roads that do have speed limits where the causes are more complex. I have driven across Montana, and it has lots of dead flat, straight to the horizon, 'put you to sleep', highways, much like NT.
  8. Yes
  9. The change in the Montana legislation was the result of a driver who was booked during the period of no speed limits for "failing to drive at a reasonable and prudent speed" and succesfully fought the charge in the Supreme Court on the grounds it was vague and unconstitutional. The state of Montana then had no choice but to re-introduce speed limits or they would have had no way of booking drivers travelling at dangerous speeds.
  10. :LOL: :LOL: :LOL: :LOL:
    He's just in the back room fetching it :wink:
  11. Yeah that's a lot more accurate than my assessment. Basically the rest of the state gets screwed over because of the actions of a few... perhaps Montana is actually Victoria's sister state?
  12. As for the NT, bear in mind that there is also a very high incidence of collisions with animals of the large variety (kangaroos, water buffalo, camels etc.) which may also go some way to explaining high insurance on rentals.
  13. Been searching the 'net and found that the guy in question was in his 50s, driving a 96 Camaro at 85mph (137kph), overtaking a cop car on a straight stretch of highway. Doesn't seem to bad until you realise that this was in the snow and that the cop testified that his patrol car left the ground several times due to mounds of frost on the road surface and that the Camaro driver did not slow for corners or crests. The driver testified that he was actually being careful by only doing 85mph and that he knew the road well despite having only been to the area 3 or 4 times. Note that the entire court case was all to avoid paying a fine....of $100.
  14. the mind boggles!!!!!
  15. I've driven in a number of other contries and I can testify that the closer a speed limit is to being reasonable the smaller the differential speed between vehicles travelling in the same direction.

    I put this down to some people always driving x below the limt, whilst others drive at the more reaonable speed. So when the limit is set to low it creates a serious difference in speed.

    It's this speed difference that creates accidents
  16. What a tool - I bet he's popular in that state. So the bottom line is, a common sense law such as "a reasonable and prudent speed" is too vague. That's understandable, but very sad. I still suspect the decision to give up and re-introduce blanket speed limits was pushed by the federal safeycrats and insurance companies (all of whom howled when the speed laws were repealed, claiming there would be carnage and economic blowout). Am I right in saying that Montana also deferred to the National Speed Limit well? OK, the law was a bit vague, but could have been tightened up to include definitions of safety - they already had night-time speed limits, why not 'bad condition' speed limits? As we all know, the only time you really can exceed most speed limits safely is during full daylight and in good road conditions...

    On a side note, it's interesting that not many people realised just what effect speed limits have (or don't have) on road fatalities. If you polled victorians, and asked them:

    Q: Why did the US state of Montana remove daytime speed limits (allowing motorists to choose "a reasonable and prudent speed"), only to re-introduce them 5 years later?

    a) a new government came to power
    b) road deaths steadily climbed with no speed limits
    c) insurance premiums soared during this time
    d) police found it difficult to fine offenders

    I'd reckon Victorians would largely answer b), as that is what our government has drummed into them over the last two decades... But then again, since when did you need facts to formulate public policy?
  17. This makes a whole lot of sense, and you see it every time that you come across one of those traffic jambs in the middle of nowhere. A procession of vehicles stuck behind a slow vehicle with nowhere to overtake and there is always some moron who ends up risking it and passing at an innapropriate location, or the idiot that is continually swerving out into the oncoming lane because he/she is too close to the vehicle that he/she is following to see past it.

    Aah the joys of long weekend family holidays.