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The speed debate: The good, bad and ugly!

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' at netrider.net.au started by pro-pilot, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. Hi all,

    Interesting issue regarding speed, hooning and how the law, society and driving / riding community view all of this. In all the experiences that I have had speed seems to be a greatly referenced and contentious issue, but I feel greatly over exaggerated and implied as the cause of all road evils.

    Having lived all over Australia, lots of cities and countries in Europe and for a short stint in the US, one thing is abundantly clear. Everybody wants to go fast!!

    There are some very good and also bad reasons that the law (road) is structured the way it is. Several factors come into play when trying to understand how the architects of road speed have arrived at their conclusions:
    • Roads are shared environments with many different vehicle types, using the road for different purposes;
    • Complexity of the road environment (eg. Number of side streets, access points and visability etc.);
    • Traffic management plays a large part in determining how to control the flow of vehicles;
    • Skill levels of drivers / riders is broad, as is their road expectations. This sort of creates a bell curve of skill types out their, and one should aim at meeting the needs of the upper part of the curve (~75% of the population base);
    • Surface conditions and provisioning cannot be constantly guaranteed, thus speeds need to be in line with ability to handle broken, uneven or poorly drained areas;
    • Roads (unlike tracks) are not closed environments. They have many occasions where objects such as livestock, non-vehicular road users and foreign materials place themselves in the path of a driver / rider, which will limit the overall speed that can be safely negotiated.

    This is not an exhaustive list. But as you can tell, with all these factors in play, one would want to go as slow as possible to avoid an accident. However, speed may increase ones risk and severity of an accident, but is definitely not the prime cause or driver. No report on roads in the world can scientifically claim this. But unlike driver distraction / awareness / skill levels, speed is the only measure that the authorities can measure you on! Hence speeding is it!

    Now having lived in Germany for a while and making use of the autobahn (which allows open speed limits for many sections), one is allowed to hit speeds in excess of 270Kph, with little to no more accidents that in 100kph environments such as our highways.

    So what is the difference?

    How road users use the road! If the road was a closed system, with traffic maintaining the same goal and driving with a common purpose, then, speed diminishes as a factor more and more. Hence why there are no speed limits in areas of the autobahn. The roads are:

    • Mostly straight and very well maintained;
    • Have barriers to stop foreign objects entering;
    • Purpose built to take high-speed traffic;
    • Usually demands that people travelling do so at reasonable speed levels.

    What causes accidents is the difference in speeds of road users. So if you are doing 100 and traffic is free to go in and out of side streets, turn or look for parks you are in trouble.

    The more variable the speeds are of users in a given area, the slower the speed limit needs to be to cope with various situations.

    Because of our congestions, short freeways and highways and surface maintenance and foreign object control. Most Australian roads cannot adopt these extreme speeds.
    This is why N.T. had no speed limits until recently (but they all know that most deaths were caused by alcohol, not speed (on its own had extremely low death / accident).

    The ugly is how these factors are hardly used by councils and governments in effectively managing traffic.
  2. I find it hard to disagree with a single point made.

    I do believe though that it is safe to increase the speed limit on divided, > 4 lane, straight roads (freeways, motorways, what ever you want to call em) within reason. A speed of 130km/h on such a road is imo safe, but that's just what I think
  3. It’s a well written post, with well defined arguments that are logically set out. I’ll give you that.

    HOWEVER, and this is the rub, we all know that speed kills! The powers that be tell us this is the case. They run television campaigns and place very large, and very distracting, signs on the side of our roads. They even sponsor footy clubs!

    Why would the government go to all of this trouble? It costs them a percentage of tens of millions raised every year from catching us ‘trying to kill ourselves.’ Surely they’re only trying to save us all from a fiery death. :?

    Now you come along, with your fancy-pants post, and tell us they’re wrong? They haven’t considered all of the evidence? Could it be that you’re actually implying that the ‘Speed Kills’ campaign isn’t about saving lives at all?! :shock:

    You, Sir, are going to burn in hell…
  4. Just like carbon tax and man made global warming. Speed is really the only factor that they can control. The rest is up to the gods.

    Speed is a contributing factor that can be managed. But is definately not the be all end all.

    They are draconian about it because to explain how this all works would be too confusing for the population as a whole.
  5. well there is another factor that they can control and that's driver/rider training but it costs more money (in the short term, in the long term it might actually save money, but what sort of government looks beyond it's term for benefits? oh right, a good government, something Australia lacks :roll: ) Speed is an easy target, and gives a nice bit of revenue too.
  6. My views on why they focus so heavily on speed.

    1) it is an easily definable factor that can be policed with minimal chance of loosing a case.
    1A) as part of this I will point out directly that failure to indicate, blocking people lane changing after they indicate, tailgating, failure to head check ... ... ... all have to be policed directly by a person, and can be more effectively defended against than the automatic machines don't lie argument of speed cameras
    2) it is cheaper to slow people down than to maintain the roads effectively
    3) You can't take someone’s walking license away, and pedestrians cop the damage if things go wrong, so why make them actually take responsibility for there actions.
    4) most drivers are to complacent to actually handle greater speed, so until we get drivers actually paying attention to the world around them, higher speeds can be dangerous.

    My view is train the drivers, improve the roads, up the speeds, then consider F'wits walking out onto the roads without checking as natural selection at work.
  7. Very good point. Unfortunately if driver / rider training was conducted at a standard and level that ensured a safe environment, half the people on the road would today not be allowed to hold a licence. As driving is seen a key to the economy, the standard drops.
  8. This is one of the few arguments for harsh speed enforcement that I'll buy in to.

    The vast majority of the roads we use every day are rubbish. One can't compare the autobahn with the Hume (or any other major highway in Aus for that matter).

    Our roads are (in some cases) poorly built and, in most cases, poorly maintained. Think of the last European sports car review you read. Recall anything about “hard suspension†or “rough ride for Australian roads†etc.? Thought so. :wink:

    Hazardous roads are a serious liability. There are two ways to limit this liability. The first is obvious: build and maintain safer roadways. The costs are enormous, surely. The second option is to ensure that road users are limited to a speed at which the safety of the road itself is as close to negligible as possible.

    Oh…and speeding fines fill the coffers nicely! :LOL:
  9. Garbage - there are plenty of places on the German Autobahns and Italian Autostradas that are far worse than the Hume. The newer sections of the Hume are actually very good indeed by comparison.

    Don't forget, most of the German Autobahn system was designed over 70 years ago. Many older stretches have lanes that are narrow by more recent standards.

    edited with apologies to Falcon-Lord :oops:
  10. The only contribution I can add is that you will get nicked going too fast on an autobahn. If you are carrering along trying to hit 200kmh in a 30 year old commodore then they will book you (and I think impound the car). Just an example that it is logic and not just liberalism or historical
  11. Actually if you were in a 30 year old commodore on an autobahn they'd pull you over just to see what it was you were driving.... :LOL:
  12. Germany is quoted as an example of the good side of speeding, but one critical issue over there is that driving is a privilige, not a right. The driver training programs are apparently (since I don't know first hand) pretty full on.

    Better trained drivers make for safer drivers... unlike our minimum criteria "last chance" learner type system that we have throughout Australia. :roll:
  13. There are. However, I think you'll find that the older stretches are restricted where necessary. Maintenance and safety are taken very seriously. These are the factors which determine whether restrictions are in place, and what they are at any given time. The level of monitoring in place ensures an almost immediate response to hazards (including some of the most sophisticated sensors anywhere).

    Is the system infallible? No, of course not. It is, however, far superior. How many times have you come across road kill that's been thoroughly imbedded into the roadway? Rough edges? Dips that send your heart to the back of your throat? Any of them signed? Didn't think so. Where was VicRoads or the interstate equivalent to deal with the hazards?
  14. Um could people check there altering of quoted information, I have been attributed with someone elses quote here
  15. I've sorted that out in my reply, mate.

    TonyE will need to edit the original post, and we're sorted!

    Sorry about that :grin:
  16. Apologies - original is fixed :oops:
  17. Now the thread makes much more sence :grin:
  18. Do state governments think that implementing a stricter licensing regime will see them voted out in future elections? Im pretty sure every netrider would be in favour of it!
  19. That would be a first for Netrider.

    Yep lets all go really fast and if you survive you win!

    I don't know much and am not a physicist but I would suspect that there is less margin for error at higher speeds? Um if this is the case then slower speeds will probably be safer?

    Ok but how safe do we want our roads?

    What is a safe speed?
  20. Until you get rid of the Nuff Nuffs and Tards that are allowed to drive/ride on our roads you'll have to live with reduced speeds. Better Training and testing is the answer but as said earlier theres no short term gain for any government so it wont happen.