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Fighting a speeding ticket

Last Friday, around 1 AM, I was driving home on an interstate in NJ, 65 mph zone, no other cars anywhere around me. At one point, I noticed headlights far off in the distance behind me. It struck me as strange because that car was clearly going much faster than I was. I immediately looked at my speedometer, wondering what my speed was if the other car was gaining so quickly. 75 mph, on the dot. I was enjoying not having any other cars around me (that’s rare in NJ), so I figured I’d slow down a bit so the other car would be ahead of me sooner. I let off the gas a little and dropped to 70 mph. It didn’t occur to me that the other car was a cop until he caught up, pulled me over, and surprised me with a ticket for going 85 mph. He claimed he clocked me doing 87 mph and paced me doing 85 mph. Not a chance in either case. I know my speedometer is accurate and I know that I didn’t exceed 75 mph at any point.

I have no problem admitting that I was going 10 mph over. If he gave me that ticket, I wouldn’t have had a problem signing it "guilty" and mailing the check in. However, in NJ, 20 mph over the speed limit is double the fine and double the points of 10 mph over. Since I wasn’t going 20 mph over, I’m not exactly comfortable pleading guilty to going 20 mph over, so I’m going to court.

At this point, my case is pretty much “I know I wasn’t going 85 mph because I looked at my speedometer and didn’t exceed 75 mph”. Not exactly the greatest case but it’s the truth. Any better ideas for how I can approach this?
Permalink SomeBody 
August 20th, 2005
If you've been charged with going 85, Plead not guilty and request a jury trial. Demand to see records showing his radar was calibrated that day and there was no chance he wasn't detecting the big truck that overtook you.

However, if he says he paced you at 85 for 10 minutes before hand and there was no one else on the road, you have a weak case. He will probably say this. You have to show that he was pacing someone else and became confused.

Do you have cruise control? Was it on?

However, most states only charge you with excessive speed so you can't plead not guilty to the speed itself, you were either speeding or not.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
suck it up and stop whinging?
Permalink Jesus H Christ 
August 20th, 2005
Bad advise. You didn't take into consideration the financial cost of the points. Double points is a big problem. He could get ticketed for rolling through a red light next week and with these new points, lose his license. Then what? Also, with a 20mph conviction, his insurance company can cancel him. Having been cancelled, he will find he needs to pay $2000/month just to get basic coverage.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
Happened to me once too, I was doing maybe 75 in a 65 zone, and the cop pulled me over claiming I was doing 90. But, I had a sleightly cracked windshield and gave me a ticket for that instead. I guess I got off lucky.

Do what Rich said. Go to court and fight it.
Permalink MarkTAW 
August 20th, 2005
Oh also, not sure about NJ but in some states 20 over is a misdemenor and under that is merely an infraction. You do not want a misdemenor conviction on your record if you can avoid it because then you have an honest to goodness criminal record. If this would be a misdemenor, I would advise spending the money on an actual attorney.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
I've just been googling to find out for you. Could not find out for NJ, but in several states going over 75 in a 55 is a misdemeanor class conviction, so I think it probably is in NJ.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
Call your insurance company. Don't give them your name and see if they'll give you quotes for x points and 2x points. Those rates generally stick for 3-5 years. Do the math on how much money you're talking about.

Then call an attorney that specializes in speeding cases. I don't know NJ law, but it's possible that if you go up for 20 over and the cop blows the case, you end up with no ticket.

Best of luck.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 20th, 2005
I'm sorry to post an alternative view here, but I'm pleased you received a ticket and that it concerns you. Speeding kills, even if you're absolutely certain it was safe for you to be speeding. They all think it's safe.

Philo, an ex-Navy man condones breaking the law? I'm a bit surprised.
Permalink MBA 
August 20th, 2005
I'm with MBA on this one. Tired of speeding fines? Slow the fuck down, morons.

I'm sick to death of motorists complaining that they got busted speeding, and moaning about all the speed cameras that are popping up everywhere. What's so important about where you're going that means you can break the law and endanger lives just so you can get there a couple of minutes sooner?
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 20th, 2005
Do speeders on interstates really endanger public safety?

I'm all for throwing the book at people running red lights and speeding in residential areas. Unfortunately, stopping speeders on highways is easy revenue for NJ.

Your best bet is probably get a lawyer -- one who specializes in taking a few hundred bucks from you and shmoozing with the DA. Heck you won't even have to take the day off from work.
Permalink thompson_gunner 
August 20th, 2005
I would say take it to court. If the cop does show up, ask for the calibration records of not just the radar, but of the spedometer as well. Both have to be calibrated for them to use it to clock speeders. In addition, see if the car had a camera - that would be good evidence as well.

Other than that, don't under any circumstances tell anything other than exactly what happened. If you were using cruise control, then that's fine, but otherwise don't bring it up. Also, you might want to have *your* spedometer tested just to make sure it's accurate. If you can come in and say that when you first noticed the headlights you were doing 75, and then you had your car tested and it turned out your spedometer was 3 mph off (so you were going 78), that might help the case.

My experience is that it is rare for the cop to show up. Of course, I've only had two tickets, one I was fighting on the grounds that the cop was out of his jurisdiction. The other I just went to traffic school for.

Finally, no, I don't have sympathy for people who excessively speed. My wife got a ticket for 90 in a 65 because she was paying any attention while driving down the interstate listening to music. That just came off of our insurance in June, and both of us are a lot more careful now.
Permalink Cory Foy 
August 20th, 2005
"I'm with MBA on this one. Tired of speeding fines? Slow the fuck down, morons."

He didn't say he had a problem with a 10mph fine, but rather an inaccurate 20mph ticket. Cops are not infalliable, and I wouldn't imagine that it is beyond some (let's face it - the bully from school is pretty likely to want to be a cop to continue his trend) to manufacture evidence just to fill up an empty night.

In any case, here in Ontario all of the highways have a 100km/h speeding limit. _Everyone_, and I mean everyone, goes from 115-120 -- it is simply the norm. I've driven past several radar traps going 120 without ever getting a ticket. Having said that, the rule is that while up to 120 is tacitly accepted, anything over will be dealt with harsly (extra harsh because they can ding you for that 20 that they would normally accept).

Speaking of speed - we have a lot of Americans driving on our highways, and generally they are pretty considerate people that stay with the pack, and so on. New York state drivers especially so. The _PRICKS_ are almost always Michiganers - if you see a Michigan plate, that's like the go who's all over the road, going 140+ on our highway. What's the deal with this?
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
August 20th, 2005
In Germany it's not all that unusual to drive anything up to 190 kph (118.060527 mph).

If there are enough lanes, you should be allowed to go as fast as you desire.
Permalink General Protection Fault 
August 20th, 2005
There are plenty of options that are better than pleading guilty to a speeding ticket:  A Prayer for Judgement Continued, reducing the ticket, turning it into a non-moving violation, etc.  My advice is, just hire a traffic lawyer. 

For less than the increase in insurance the ticket would cost you, you can get a professional who knows the system and the local judges and can get you the best outcome possible.  In some counties you can get a speeding ticket reduced to something as minimal as "Improper Vehicle Operation" and not get any insurance points. 

There are plenty of websites that can find a traffic lawyer for a particular county, although you'll probably start getting letters from them in the mail in the next few weeks anyway. 

Never plead guilty to a speeding ticket.  You'll regret it later when you get into an accident and now you have two incidents on your car insurance instead of one.
Permalink  
August 20th, 2005
There's always the possibility that he won't even remember you. I went to court once over a stop sign violation, and the cop, who was acting as bailiff, didn't even remember that I was his case. The judge had to tell him, and asked if he remembered this case. "To be honest, your honor," he said, "I really don't." So the judge said I was free to go.

So shave your head, grow a goatee, and wear weird clothes and ugly glasses to court. :) In my case I think I had long hair when he stopped me, but before I went to court it was cut job-hunting short. Not expressly so he wouldn't remember me, but it was a nice side benefit.
Permalink Kyralessa 
August 20th, 2005
"Philo, an ex-Navy man condones breaking the law? I'm a bit surprised."

Two aspects to this -
1) He was charged with a crime he didn't commit. I tend to side with the defendant in those cases. You're welcome to disagree.

2) I think the speeding laws are completely unjust. Speed limits are designed with the rationale that "if we set the limit at 65mph, everyone will drive 75mph". Cops generally don't pull you over for going 10mph over for that very reason.

http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/general/news/news.asp?id=1561
"Contrary to public perception, secondary roads are more dangerous than interstates. In fact, a study by Ford Motor Company revealed that secondary roads have an accident rate nearly twice as high and a fatality rate more than double that of interstate highways."

The whole "55 saves lives" thing was misconceived to start with - when the 55mph speed limit was rescinded and higher limits posted, accident rates went down. Unfortunately, so did speeding ticket revenues, so many cities and towns kept it.

The biggest problem I have with speed limits is that it gives cops an easy out to pretend to do their jobs. I've been in traffic and seen an idiot cutting lanes back and forth, cutting off people, trying to edge a few car lengths ahead - then we pass a cop sitting blithely on the side of the road with his radar gun, confident the only way to drive dangerously is to go 57mph.

So yes, I fully advocate fighting speeding tickets on highways.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 20th, 2005
"If there are enough lanes, you should be allowed to go as fast as you desire."

Yeah baby!

I might add that ultra-cool Montana has no daytime speeding limit.
Permalink Speed Freak 
August 20th, 2005
Isn't there a car rental place at the edges of Montana with really cool, really fast cars?

If not, that's a cool business model.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 20th, 2005
My understanding was that '55 saves lives' was a slogan that came after the fact and the impetus for the 55 law was to reduce gas consumption.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
When Speed Freak says Montana is ultra-cool, he is referring to the temperature most of the year.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
> In any case, here in Ontario all of the highways have a 100km/h speeding limit. _Everyone_, and I mean everyone, goes from 115-120 -- it is simply the norm.

I'd feel guilty doing more than 110. :)

Is this rule untrue in the States (e.g. New York or Pennsylvania)? On a road where the speed limit is 55 mph, for example, is it at all likely that I might be stopped if I were doing 60 (5 mph over the limit)?
Permalink Christopher Wells 
August 20th, 2005
If a car is pacing you from behind, it needs to be really close to get an accurate speed measurement, because the distance between the two cars must remain constant during the time that the speed is clocked. If the distance is large, especially at night, it is nearly impossible to judge distance that accurately. The police car could be gaining on you at 10 mph and from, say, 400-800 yds behind it would be impossible to tell that the two cars were not travelling at equal speeds. A traffic lawyer might be able to use an argument like that to dispute the officer's speed measurement.
Permalink Ian Boys 
August 20th, 2005
The law may be unjust, but it *is* a law so if you break it and get in trouble then you have no real grounds for complaint. I break what I consider stupid laws on a regular basis, but if I were to be caught I'd accept that it's my tough luck -- it's the whole "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime" thing.

If you want to get the law changed, then go right ahead and protest, but until it *is* changed then the only way to not get speeding fines is to not speed.

(Disclaimer: I know several people who have been seriously injured or killed by speeding drivers, so as far as I'm concerned even if you're travelling 1mph over the speed limit you deserve everything you get, and the maximum speed limit *everywhere* should be 40.)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 20th, 2005
Oh my gosh. Mat just proved to everyone that he doesn't have a brain. Nobody with a brain could drive at 40 mph on a clear motorway without suffering stress-related problems from the mental torture involved.
Permalink Ian Boys 
August 20th, 2005
> the maximum speed limit *everywhere* should be 40

If only you could get *everyone* to smoke up before driving ...
Permalink Christopher Wells 
August 20th, 2005
If you keep a safe distance between you and the driver in front, 40mph is about the maximum practical speed in normal traffic conditions. (Check out the variable speed limits on the M25 -- when they keep people to 40 for long stretches it actually increases the average speed as it does away with most of the "waves" of sudden braking that occur when people drive too fast and too bunched up.)

And really, is your destination so vital that getting there in 2/3rds of the time it takes at 40 is crucial?

Bloody motorists. :)
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 20th, 2005
Mat, I'm not trying to pick on you and I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but had the drivers not been speeding, would the result been any different?

The anti-speed lobby really annoy me with the simplistic argument that "Speed kills". I agree that speed increases the seriousness of an accident, but isn't usually the cause. Carelessness, drunks, drugs, tiredness, un-roadworthy vehicles, inexperience, poorly maintained roads and dangerous driving are just some of the root causes of accidents.

This is backed up by a refreshingly honest quote from Durham's chief constable..

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F12%2F07%2Fncam07.xml
Permalink Ian H. 
August 20th, 2005
SomeBody -
You need a traffic lawyer. At 20mph over, there are certain to be additional penalties & fines -- it could be that your state has an automatic "reckless driving" charge that applies. One thing is sure, when you've got laws set by "law & order" types (aka Republicans), when you get caught, they tend to pile them on, and what was a simple moving violation is now a serious offense.

Sure, an attorney will cost you $400 or more, but that's cheap compared to what the insurance company is going to do to you for the next few years.
Permalink example 
August 20th, 2005
"but had the drivers not been speeding, would the result been any different?"

In at least one instance, yes -- I'm sure you've seen that "speed kills" commercial with the "if this car had been travelling at 30, it would have stopped now" voiceover as the car carries on another 40 odd feet and runs a kid over. It was pretty much exactly like that...
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 20th, 2005
It's truly depressing that when clear evidence is produced, people still refuse to consider it. Durham is the one county in England where they have not introduced a proliferation of speed cameras, and in Durham the casualty rate from traffic collisions is going down, year on year. In every other part of England where speed cameras are being scattered like lights on a Christmas tree, the casualty rate from traffic collisions is going up, year on year. What's more, it used to be on a downward trend and only started going up after the introduction of speed cameras. Does it take any more than this to show that blind enforcement of speed limits does not improve road safety?
Permalink Ian Boys 
August 20th, 2005
40 is an unsafe speed to travel on highways. People have gotten tickets for going 40 in a 55 because it is an 'unsafe speed for conditions'. Someone advocating 40 be the maximum speed limit for highways can not be taken seriously.

Also, no cars get their best mileage travelling at 40mph, so such a policy would be very wasteful in terms of energy resources.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
"aka Republicans"

It was President Carter who signed in the 55 laws.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
"I'd feel guilty doing more than 110. :)

Is this rule untrue in the States (e.g. New York or Pennsylvania)?"

It's actually pretty funny in that it's common knowledge here that the tacit speed limit is 120, but if people see a cop car on the road, or on the side, suddenly they all slam their brakes and drive 95 (so the poor cop trying to get somewhere has a mini traffic jam right around him).

It really is ridiculous, and the police really should charge anyone that adjusts their speed in the presence of a cop (and leave the guy going 119 alone, which they do. As mentioned I fly past police cars going 120 regularly, and I've never gotten a ticket). The police can fill their quota much more effectively and impressively catching the assmunchers who aren't just `speeding', as empty of a term as that is, but rather are dangerously driving (dangerous drivers often speed, but that doesn't mean that speeders are dangerous drivers).
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
August 20th, 2005
Wow, some of you are really stupid. In case it wasn't clear, let me repeat, this time in all caps:

I HAVE NO PROBLEM ADMITTING THAT I WAS GOING 10 MPH OVER. IF HE GAVE ME THAT TICKET, I WOULDN'T HAVE HAD A PROBLEM SIGNING IT "GUILTY" AND MAILING THE CHECK IN.

To those of you who are actually being helpful, thanks. Lots of good information here. I'll definitely contact a lawyer.

The pacing thing is interesting because I'm fairly certain that he didn't follow me at a consistent speed for anything more than a few seconds. My only guess is that he clocked someone else doing 87 mph, lost sight while turning around to catch them, and they exited before he caught up (this all occurred right after an exit). He caught up to me doing 70, assumed it was me anyway, and decided he'd say he paced me doing 85 since he knew that "clocked you doing 87 mph, then lost sight, then paced you doing 70, then gave you a ticket for 85" wouldn't stand up in court.

On NJ highways, 75 mph is pretty standard. Doing the speed limit tends to be very unsafe because you'll be constantly getting cut off and tailgated. It's rare for anyone to get pulled over for anything under 80. It's likely that they'll pull you over for 80+ but they'll almost always reduce that to something with less (or no) points unless you're going 90+ or swerving or doing something otherwise unsafe. The cop who pulled me over seemed very young so I'm guessing he's new and didn't get the memo.
Permalink SomeBody 
August 20th, 2005
"In every other part of England where speed cameras are being scattered like lights on a Christmas tree, the casualty rate from traffic collisions is going up, year on year."

It's not inconceivable that this is because people still drive too fast and slow suddenly when they near a camera. The person behind them who's driving too fast and too close doesn't react quick enough, and blammo! Failing that, some people are sticking to the speed limit and impatient idiots decide to make risky overtaking manoeuvers because they're far too important for the speed limit to apply to them. (I've seen both types of incident before.)

I don't see how it's reasonable to claim that if everyone drove at the speed limit there would be more accidents than if people exceeded them. It makes no sense at all. Still, if you all want to carry on speeding and getting points on your license until you're disqualified, go right ahead. At least it'll keep you off the road for a bit...
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 20th, 2005
>> It was President Carter who signed in the 55 laws. <<

Errr, I wasn't referring to the NMSL law, but the tendency of lawmakers to pile on additional penalties. Asset Forfeture is a good example -- if they're going to bust you for drug posession, why not take your car/house/cash too? After all, druggies are bad people, right?

BTW, we have one person to thank for the repeal of the double-nickel speed limit -- Gail Morrison of the National Motorists Association.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/morrison1.html
She's a good example of how one person can change the world.
Permalink example 
August 20th, 2005
The drug asset forfeiture laws grew out of need - a drug dealer would get nine months in jail and fined to the maximum extent of the law - say $250,000, and he'd just reach into a briefcase and pay the fine.

So it was originally that the assets at the scene of the crime were seized simply to prevent that; then it grew. And grew. And grew.

The worst part of it is the way the law operates - the "implements of the crime" are seized, then no matter the outcome of the criminal case the owner has to file suit to get them back (good luck).

The lowest ebb I'm aware of is the family car being seized because the father picked up a hooker in it. I don't know if there are any cases of, say, a house being seized because a teenager had a few joints, but it wouldn't surprise me (especially in New London)

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 20th, 2005
"If you keep a safe distance between you and the driver in front, 40mph is about the maximum practical speed in normal traffic conditions."

Actually, one of the distinctions between a motorway and a dual-carraigeway is that motorways are designed to be safe at 100mph in cars of the 1960s era. It's one of the features they have to have in order to gain the "M" distinction.

In other words, you have the visibility to safely stop from 100mph in a car with drum brakes and no ABS.

Safe distance is something completely else. I can tell you that there's no speed slow enough that everyone can stop in time -- most expensive crash I've ever been in was when someone drove a Range Rover over the back half of my car at all of about 2mph; he was on the phone and didn't see that I hadn't set off (I could see traffic he couldn't). So he just drove into the back of the car.



On the subject of the speeding ticket; whatever the morality of him speeding, I'm not very happy at the idea of the police faking up evidence if they feel like it...
Permalink Katie Lucas 
August 20th, 2005
"If you keep a safe distance between you and the driver in front, 40mph is about the maximum practical speed in normal traffic conditions."

That's absurd. What constitutes a safe distance depends on the speed you're going; as speed increases, so must the safe distance. You should judge by time, not by speed, e.g. the two-second rule. I've been rear-ended before, but I've never rear-ended anybody.
Permalink Kyralessa 
August 20th, 2005
Philo, I'm afraid you are wrong. Fatalities increased when speed limits were raised on roads. The speed lobby doesn't mention this very much.

* Danny Hakim: Study Links Higher Speed Limits to Deaths, New York Times, 24 Nov 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/24/national/24SPEE.html

* IIHS fact sheets on speeding
http://www.iihs.org/safety_facts/qanda/speed_limits.htm

* IIHS, Status Report newsletter : Special issue: speeding, Vol. 38, No. 10, November 22, 2003
http://www.iihs.org/srpdfs/sr3810.pdf

* Danny Hakim: Once World Leader in Traffic Safety, U.S. Drops to No. 9, New York Times, November 27, 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/27/national/27SAFE.html

When Victoria, Australia started to enforce speed limits strictly, fatalities dropped by 30 percent. Victoria uses hidden speed cameras and allows no over limit tolerance.
Permalink MBA 
August 20th, 2005
I notice that the articles all say that deaths increase when speed limits are raised; they don't say that accidents increase. Ergo more accidents are fatal at higher speeds. Also ergo, you can decrease deaths at higher speeds by decreasing accidents. Things like mandatory defensive driving courses for traffic violators and improvements to unsafe roads can help with that.

Where I live a lot of the highways are just plain unsafe; you have a circular entrance ramp with a maximum speed of 20 MPH, and then suddenly you're on the highway and expected to merge with cars going 60 MPH. It doesn't matter whether the speed limit is 55 or 65 or 75; you still can't merge with that if you're going 20. It's a road design safety flaw that has nothing to do with the speed limit.
Permalink Kyralessa 
August 20th, 2005
Couple that with a lack of visible signage so you have a lot of last minute panic maneuvers, and it's a receipe for endless accidents.

In Ontario, and this is distracting from the OPs original point but we've gone off on a tangeant, I think they should raise the speed to a credible speed - 120 km/h - and then make it extremely tightly enforced. e.g. a large fine and points for going 125 km/h (because it's supposed to be a speed LIMIT). Most people fear a speed increase because they worry that it would just make everyone go 140.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
August 20th, 2005
"That's absurd. What constitutes a safe distance depends on the speed you're going; as speed increases, so must the safe distance. You should judge by time, not by speed, e.g. the two-second rule. I've been rear-ended before, but I've never rear-ended anybody."

And why is it absurd? Let's look at the numbers:

Right, the two relevant equations for motion under constant acceleration are v = u+at and s=ut + 0.5at^2 We'll assume for convenience that the decelaration force at 70 and 40 is the same, and to make the numbers easy well give it an arbitrary value of -10 and use random units -- you'll still get comparable numbers, but they won't be any specific measure.

So the time required at 70 is 7, and at 40 is 4. So far, so good. But the *distance* travelled varies much more:

At 40: s = 40*4 + 0.5*-10*4^2 = 80
At 70: s = 70*7 + 0.5*-10*7^2 = 245

So, to go from 70 to 0 it takes less twice as long in terms of time than it does to go from 40 to 0, but over three times the distance is covered in that time. Maintaining a safe distance in anything other than light traffic is impossible due to the number of cars on the road. (96m is generally the accepted stopping distance at 70mph, so in the ditance between the motorway junction nearest my house and the exit for Winchester, 6km away, there's only space for 62 cars per lane; I'd guess during rush hour there are a damned sight more than 180 cars between the two junctions.)

It gets worse at night, despite the fact that "the roads are clear". Even at 40mph the stopping distance is slightly longer than the normal distance of light cast by low beam headlights, so by the time you see something it's actually too late for you to stop short of the object. At 70mph you probably won't even have had enough time to react before you hit it...

Still absurd?
Permalink Mat Hall 
August 20th, 2005
In many cases, though, the two second rule is not just time to attempt to stop, but also time to attempt to maneuver.

This is also why cars have brights - to extend your range of vision at night, to give you more time to stop/maneuver.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 20th, 2005
> Most people fear a speed increase because they worry that it would just make everyone go 140.

There's not so much reason to notice it down around Toronto, but another factor to consider when setting a speed limit is the climate: for example the current speed limits are more or less safe even when it's drizzling, or wintry, or even night-time.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
August 20th, 2005
Part of my commute involves driving on a divided highway in the mountains. The speed limit for most of it is 55mph. There is one curve that is quite deadly, there are, on average, 15 fatalities per year, and tow trucks get called out over 500 times per year for accidents along a 2 mile stretch. Fatalities in that area come in 3 basic categories:
1 - flying off the mountain when wet or icy (it is 300 feet to the bottom of the ravine). People wearing seatbelts are likely to survive, no one who was unbuckled has survived yet.
2 - collision with animals. Deer weigh about 100# and elk weigh closer to 1000#. They roam in pairs or more. I've passed a passenger car where they hit an elk, it passed through the windshield and out the rear window decapitating both people in the car. Blood everywhere.
3 - loss of control. The most infamous, this year, in our stretch of 285 was when a woman was tearing downhill at over 90mph, had a blowout, rolled her pickemup, the infant (still in baby seat) was ejected from the truck and died on the scene.

After an ugly accident, the police enforce the speed limit vigorously: 1mph over the limit gets you stopped. So for about half the time, the speed limit is being enforced heavily, the other half the time, they'll let you slide at 10 over.
Permalink Peter 
August 20th, 2005
"Deer weigh about 100#"

You must have little baby deer where you live.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 20th, 2005
Actually that is a pretty good weight to pick for an average:

http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/Hunting/deer/deerweight.htm

Live weights on the right two columns.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 20th, 2005
Mat Hall: based on your logic, why are you stopping at 40mph? Wouldn't it be safer still to make the speed limit 20mph everywhere, redefining "safe distance" to suit the new number?

You draw an arbitrary line of "acceptable safety", and I draw another one. Who is right?
Permalink Tail of the "g" 
August 21st, 2005
"Who is right?"

the person whose arbitary line kills the fewer people?
Permalink Jesus H Christ 
August 21st, 2005
Holy cow - I dug a little more on deer weight. I can't believe the average weight is around 125lbs. I guess it's because they're all leg and neck that they look bigger?

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 21st, 2005
Yeah I was surprised, I think my dog weighs 100 lbs and he's not as big as a deer. Bucks it seems weigh a lot more - up to 250 lbs, but still, a big buck looks a lot bigger than 250. I guess they have really lightweight bones or something that enables them to jump over 12 ft tall fences.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
August 21st, 2005
SPeaking of deer, I've personally seen the results of hitting Bambi. There was one accident where a Honda civic sedan or similar hit a full-sized deer. Both accipants died, but the deer lived. The car was a twisted wreck of metal. Just sad.

Up in Sonoma County where I spent some time growing up, collisions with cows are common, especially on the local roads. They've had a number of fatalities as well.

I think the speed limit in Montana is now 75. If I remember correctly (this was a long time ago) their "Safe and Prudent" was considered unconstitutional or something like that.

We have the Silicon Valley Autobahn, also known as Interstate 280 between Los Altos and Woodside. I've gone 85 and *STILL* had people weaving and flying around traffic at 100+. Just crazy. I just go along with the flow of traffic and then slow down when the speed demons continue.

Naturally, the California Highway Patrol are never out there unless they're doing another of their so-called "zero tolerance" speed checks, which for some stupid reason broadcast on the radio and in the newspapers.

They keep talking about speeding being so unsafe. That's the least of my worries - what about red light/stop sign runners, drunk/sleepy drivers, cutting people off, weaving in and out of lanes and those who decide at the last second to bolt across 3 lanes of traffic to reach the next exit within the last 500 feet? They should spend more time cracking down on unsafe driving.
Permalink QADude 
August 21st, 2005
In the early 90's the Garden State Parkway (six lanes divided, freshly regraded) had speed limit signs labeled

Speed Limit
45 MPH
Conditions
Permitting

I wondered how my defense would fly: "Your honor, I don't consider being passed by dozens of cars going 75mph a condition permitting me to go as slow as 45mph"

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 21st, 2005
"'Who is right?'

the person whose arbitary line kills the fewer people?"

Jesus: surely *that* line is to not have motorized vehicles at all, right?
Permalink Tail of the "g" 
August 21st, 2005
Tail of the g, It's a balance. Society accepts the balance at the designated safe speeds. Safe speeds have zero impact on driver convenience and little real impact on travel time, but are proven to reduce death and injury.

QADude, many of the problems you raise, such as red light running, are in fact reduced by clamping down on speeding. Speeding is a very useful proxy for dangerous driving.
Permalink MBA 
August 21st, 2005
Don't forget it's really easy to ticket people and it's a wonderful revenue generator, too!

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 21st, 2005
"Jesus: surely *that* line is to not have motorized vehicles at all, right?"

no, I dont think so.

if you were told that if you travelled over...say..60mph for a particular trip you *would* kill someone, but if you travelled under it you would not.

would you slow down?

if you were told that if you travelled over...say...50mph for a particular trip you would have a 50% chance of killing someone, but if under you would have no chance....would you slow down?

25%?

10%?

20mph?

lets be specific...think about exactly what combination of speed and % chance of killing someone you would be happy with.

1 chance in 1000? I kill someone every 1000 trips? way too often for me.

1 chance in 10000? I use the car 5 times a day, so thats once every 10 years...still feels too frequent.

1 chance in 100000? better, Im unlikely to kill someone in my lifetime, although its still fairly possible.

1 chance in a million? I can accept those odds, Im willing to get in and drive my car if I know that I will kill 1 person every million trips.

so, do we have statistics available that will let me calculate the best speed to achieve that % chance?

they must be around somewhere.

"In 2004, 1.46 people died for every 100 million miles driven in this country. In 2003, that number was 1.48. In 1966, 5.5 people died for every 100 million vehicle miles driven, according to NHTSA, and the death rate has been steadily improving since then."

ok, deaths per mile is a better measure anyway.

Im actually fairly happy with those stats, 1.46 people for every 100 million miles? thats fine.

Im serious, the speed limits are fine everyone. relax.
Permalink Jesus H Christ 
August 21st, 2005
Jesus: The problem begins at the subjectivity of your measure. There are plenty of people who would accept your 1-in-100,000 option if it meant they could go 20mph faster (hypothetically). Similarly, there are people who think the 1-in-1,000,000 chance is too frequent and think we should go slower still.

Furthermore, there's the lies, damn lies, and statistics problem. 1.46 deaths per 100,000,000 miles, huh? Does that include speeders and non-speeders? Does it include DUIs? Does it factor in how many of those people would have died from other causes if everybody walked everywhere? Does it include deaths by aneurysm where the accident itself wasn't directly responsible for the death? Some or all of these questions may seem ridiculously nitpicky, but everyone has a different idea of which nits to pick.

My original issue was with Mat's absolutist "40mph at most IN ALL CASES", and he obviously didn't have the same logical (if impractical) heuristic that you do.

I can understand the experiences in his life that led him to that opinion (I *really* can), but we need official government policy to be a little colder and more logical in its justification.
Permalink Tail of the "g" 
August 22nd, 2005
" but we need official government policy to be a little colder and more logical in its justification."

why?
Permalink Jesus H Christ 
August 22nd, 2005
Over here first there is the calibration buffer. Say you're is a 50 zone, then there would be e.g. an aditional 10 - 15% margin error (eve though modern equipment is usually much more accurate). You would have to be clocked at 57 to be assumed to be doing 50. Then there is the "tolerance margin", another ~15%. Even though you were doing 65, the error margin assumes you are doing 57, and the tolerance says, hey, that's OK, we will not start fining under 60. Add to this that most car speedometers err on the save side by about 10%, you can probably get away with going 70 on your car dial in a 50 zone before having the (tiny) chance of being fined.

It's ridiculous. No wonder we have such huge traffic accident numbers.
Permalink Just me (Sir to you) 
August 22nd, 2005
I've skipped down to the bottom, after reading "MBA's" post.

I'd recommend going to court. At the very least, you can get the points waived. If the conditions are as you say, I would believe you that you had not exceeded 75 -- there's a big difference between 75 and 85.

Make the argument in court. As I say, it is common for people who go to traffic court, for a first offense especially, to get the points waived if nothing else.
Permalink AllanL5 
August 22nd, 2005
"At the very least, you can get the points waived."

Don't be so sure. In Virginia I found out (the hard way) that the judge CANNOT waive points if you plead guilty. I'm sure the insurance companies were behind that one.

Philo
Permalink Philo 
August 22nd, 2005
Alot of times you can take a 'defensive driving' class offered by the state/municipality where you got the ticket. You pay a 'fine' sit thru a 4 hour class and the ticket is not reported (it's kept on file, so if you get another ticket the points may activiate- but your insurance company wont find out and you wont get any points). Look into that...

The other thing to do is simply call the District Attorney, explain your situation and see if you can cut a deal (surprisingly this works)
Permalink MikeG 
August 22nd, 2005
Jesus: because you can argue with cold logic when it's stupid. You can't argue with emotions.
Permalink Tail of the "g" 
August 22nd, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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