The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

12 May 2007

Minimum overdrive

An idea from Joe O'Rourke:

20-30 years ago, cars would shake a lot while doing 75mph, or they would feel "floaty". Chassis and suspension engineering and good quality tires have eliminated these sensations, and superior engine technology means the car doesn’t strain to hold the speed.

I think it's time for our longer highway systems, at the least to begin raising speed limits. When a supermajority of the populace does not obey the law, is that not a mandate for increasing the limit of the law?

Only if you believe speed limits have something to do with traffic flow. Mostly, speed limits have to do with revenue.

It is indeed true that cars are more capable than ever. There has not been, however, a corresponding increase in driver skill, and there are more distractions than ever.

(Aside: Now here's a brainstorm worthy of the name: a cell phone/emergency flasher interlock. You take a call while driving, and your flashers come on. This will remind you that you're driving, you nincompoop, and it will warn the rest of us to stay the hell out of your way while you're incapacitated. I ask only 15 percent of the take.)

The rational way to set speed limits is to observe the actual drivers, then set the limit at the 85th-percentile speed, whatever it may be. There are going to be some roads — rural Interstates, most likely — where 80 or 85 mph would make perfect sense. On the other hand, going faster than 60 or 65 on Oklahoma City's Crosstown Expressway can be construed as a death wish, if not for yourself, then surely for your car's suspension parts.

Which brings us back to O'Rourke:

The problem with that is that highways would need to be maintained to a level consistent with high speeds … and, at least in the northeast, no state ever maintains their roads to a level of safety consistent with modern day speed limits....

Neither does Oklahoma. On the other hand, I'd love to do the Kansas Turnpike at 90, at least as far north as Topeka. (Eastbound, where it becomes I-70, is another matter entirely.)

Posted at 9:21 AM to Driver's Seat


Hell, yeah. The KS turnpike is one of the best stretches of road to drive!

Love the idea of the flashing lights to remind people they're driving. I swore when I got my cell phone that I wouldn't talk and drive at the same time, but I seldom remember to turn the damn thing off when I get in the car.

Naturally, my family knows when I'm driving somewhere, so when I don't answer they call back over and over and over. I'm now known for answering the phone screaming, "Hey, we don't have life insurance on ME. Who's going to cook your meals after you make me crash the car?!"

Posted by: Venomous Kate at 11:47 AM on 12 May 2007