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Transportation Technology

Texas Opens Fastest US Highway With 85 MPH Limit 992

Posted by Soulskill
from the germany-chuckles dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Most highways in the U.S. top out at 75 mph, while some highways in rural West Texas and Utah have 80 mph speed limits. All that is about to change as Texas opens a stretch of highway with the highest speed limit in the country, giving eager drivers a chance to rip through a trip between two of the state's largest metropolitan areas at 85 mph for a 41-mile toll road between Austin and San Antonio. While some drivers will want to test their horsepower and radar detectors, others are asking if safety is taking a backseat. A 2009 report in the American Journal of Public Health found that more than 12,500 deaths were attributable to increases in speed limits on all kinds of roads and that rural highways showed a 9.1 percent increase in fatalities on roads where speed limits were raised. 'If you're looking at an 85 mph speed limit, we could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour,' says Sandra Helin, president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service. 'When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You're going to have a lot more fatalities.'"
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Texas Opens Fastest US Highway With 85 MPH Limit

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  • Yeah but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:21PM (#41261275)

    It's in texas.

    So. There's that.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:38PM (#41261571) Homepage Journal

      It's in texas.

      So. There's that.

      It's Darwinism in action, but don't expect them to put that in the school books.

      • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:55PM (#41261915) Homepage Journal

        Speaking of Darwinism... how many of those vehicles are pickup trucks with people sitting the bed?

        • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:30PM (#41262567) Homepage Journal

          Speaking of Darwinism... how many of those vehicles are pickup trucks with people sitting the bed?

          In some parts of Texas that's known as Air Conditioning

        • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:36PM (#41262677)

          Speaking of Darwinism... how many of those vehicles are pickup trucks with people sitting the bed?

          Was that suppose to read:

          ...with people sitting in the bed?

          -OR-

          ...with people shitting the bed?

          because it could really go either way.

      • by raehl (609729) <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:57PM (#41261957) Homepage

        There is nothing unsafe about driving very fast on roads designed for driving very fast. You are FAR safer driving on a restricted-access divided highway at 100 MPH than you are driving on a 45 MPH city street with cross traffic, or a country road. Especially now that many states are putting up those cables in the median that prevent cars from getting across into oncoming traffic.

        Even the article summary has to grasp for straws in trying to provide a "balanced" summary.... this 85 MPH divided highway is apparently unsafe because.... driving fast on country roads increases fatalities!

        But a divided highway is not a country road.

        Accidents between two cars going in the same direction at relatively the same speed (+/- 10-15 mph) are rare. It's the car going 35 MPH+ one way that encounters another car going 35 MPH+ in a different direction (hed-on or cross traffic) that kills people. Divided highway fatalities are usually coming up on stopped traffic in fog or at night, or falling asleep and leaving the highway.

        One more point to note ... if you're going to get in a single-car accident at 65 MPH and hit a pylon or something, you're dead. If you do it at 85 or 90 MPH, you're just REALLY dead. Same difference.

        • by tibit (1762298) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:03PM (#41262069)

          65mph frontal crashes into a wall/pylon larger than the car's front are survivable in plenty of modern cars. Just barely, perhaps, but they are. Arguably, for such a "survivability", I'd much rather go 85MPH and not make it for sure.

          • by schlachter (862210) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:27PM (#41263821)

            most of us are driving 70-80mph anyways when the limits are 55-65mph...and arbitrarily enforced. Why not just make the limits 85mph and enforce it strictly? Far less ambiguity and stress for the driver. And no need to negotiate down tickets or argue when pulled over.

            • by sarysa (1089739) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:57PM (#41264549)

              most of us are driving 70-80mph anyways when the limits are 55-65mph...and arbitrarily enforced. Why not just make the limits 85mph...

              The safety freaks will say people will start going 95-105mph if you raise the speed limit to 85, and people listen to them.

              I can guarantee you that unless it's a steep downhill, there's no way I would've done so with the $500 cars I used to drive or the much nicer vehicle that I drive now. (which is an SUV -- I'm not often motivated to go 90) The only time I ever hit 100 was going downhill on Nevada's highway 6 (I think that's it, it's near 50 which is the "lonliest road in America"), which has no other traffic whatsoever and is generally a long straightaway. Yeah, you have your performance freaks who are already frequently going 90 and weaving in and out of traffic who might gain the confidence to make 100 their average, but that fringe does not represent the majority.

              I sure hope safety is taking a back seat. We've gone WAY too far in terms of safety to the point where it's become some kind of mortality derangement. Life is a fatal disease, and there's no way to prevent driver fatalities unless we all go 10mph and prevent the physically infirm from driving. Frankly I find the chaos of Mexico's highways more appealing than the excessively proactive, taxation-masquerading-as-safety scheme we have on American highways today.

              • by alexo (9335) on Monday September 10, 2012 @03:48PM (#41292037) Journal

                most of us are driving 70-80mph anyways when the limits are 55-65mph...and arbitrarily enforced. Why not just make the limits 85mph...

                The safety freaks will say people will start going 95-105mph if you raise the speed limit to 85, and people listen to them.

                I recently came back from a trip to Slovenia.

                We did a lot of driving on the highways there and what I noticed is that even though the posted speed limit was 130Km/h (about 80mph), most people drove slower than that.

                Compare that to Ontario, where the speed limit is 100Km/h and the traffic usually flows at about 120Km/h if there are no obstructions.

          • by nbauman (624611) on Friday September 07, 2012 @09:23PM (#41269673) Homepage Journal

            I've read about a hundred papers on auto collisions and talked to a couple of dozen auto safety engineers to make sure I understood what I was reading. The fatality rates of automobile collisions increase by about a square function of the speed. When you have a collision, you have a lot of energy to dissipate, and KE = 1/2 mv^2.

            I don't have my files around to cite, and I've forgotten most of my college physics, but here's the bottom line (Fermi exercise; the numbers may not be right, but if you have better numbers you can recalculate it for me):

            1. According to a presentation on front-end collisions I read in Automotive News by a Mercedes-Benz engineer, it's impossible to make a car that will keep you alive in a front-end collision into a rigid barrier at more than about 50 or 55mph.

            A car crashes into a barrier. The occupants are restrained by their seat belts. The front end of the car crushes until the car comes to a stop. The front end, from bumper to firewall, is about 50 inches. The maximum deceleration the occupant can survive is 50g. When you run the numbers, the initial speed is about 50mph. With those parameters, the front end of the car is completely crushed, up to the firewall, and the passenger compartment is intact. Above that speed, the engine goes into the passenger compartment, the passenger compartment crushes and collapses, and the collision usually isn't survivable.

            The engineer said that you can't raise the survivable speed significantly, because the front end would have to be impractically long (that 50 inches would increase as the square of the speed).

            There might be somebody out there who drove into a brick wall at 65mph and lived. This is an idealized model, and specific circumstances can affect it.

            But that's the physics of most head-on collisions, and it's been confirmed in collision labs and in accident investigations on the road.

            In fact, most people don't survive a head-on collision at >55mph, as this classic study http://papers.sae.org/670925/ [sae.org] by Nils Bohlin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nils_Bohlin [wikipedia.org] found out. Great read, BTW (if you're a physics/engineering nerd).

            2. OK, so not all collisions are head-on into a barrier. Let's assume that Texas road is designed well enough to avoid that. Let's assume it's lined on the sides with breakaway signs, popcorn-filled barriers and right-of-ways filled with sand.

            You've got people driving along at 85mph. For a certain number of those cars, something will go wrong. Maybe a tire will blow. Maybe one car will bump another. Maybe a wheel won't be aligned right. (I've seen wheels fall off.) There will be a lot of human failures, like drivers falling asleep, or failing to pay attention,

            Once you have the initial disruption, a car at 85mph (vs. 55mph) (a) is much less stable, and much harder to get back under control and (b) has a lot more energy to dissipate before it comes to a stop.

            Maybe you'll be lucky and slide to a stop along the pavement, but the physics is against it. If you don't crash against a barrier, that energy tends to convert to rolling energy.

            The tendency is to roll, along a couple of axes. First you roll across the horizontal plane, until the car is perpendicular to the direction of travel. Then the car flips over, and usually rolls until it stops. Rollover accidents are the most fatal. Racing cars are built with reinforced tops and rollover bars that can take a rollover, but when I was studying this stuff, the roofs of passenger cars usually collapsed after one or two rollovers, and even if they didn't collapse, the occupants got a lot of damage.

            So you're going to roll over a lot more violently, and a lot farther, at 85mph than you would at 60mph.

            Whether a driver should risk his life and brain by driving >85mph is a question that physics can't answer. But the death rate goes up pretty fast above 55mph.

            As my physics professor used to say, I don't care if you kill yourself, as long as you get the physics right.

        • by jythie (914043) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:04PM (#41262081)
          Thing is, you can only engineer so much into the highway's design before you start encountering more problems on the human side. Reaction times do not improve, and unfortunately people rarely increase their following distance when driving faster (esp as the number of users increases), so yes, higher permitted speeds tend to result in more accidents.

          Thing is, this isn't a politician, scientists, or institution saying this, it is the insurance companies. They tend to do a pretty good job of cutting through the BS since their profits are directly connected to actually things right.

          And while it is true that such collisions are 'rare', they are still common enough to be a daily occurrence on most major highways
          • by tazan (652775) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:40PM (#41262761)

            Thing is, this isn't a politician, scientists, or institution saying this, it is the insurance companies. They tend to do a pretty good job of cutting through the BS since their profits are directly connected to actually things right.

            On the other hand the insurance companies would benefit if we all went 20 MPH everywhere and never had a major accident. Actually getting to a destination in a reasonable amount of time is of no benefit to them. So maybe they aren't the most objective.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:16PM (#41263477)

            People like to point to the Autobahn for speeds like this but there are clear differences.

            - Licenses are much harder to get in Germany and require much stricter testing
            - The high speed roads are very well maintained and are not straight so they tend not to create driving "hypnosis"
            - People take driving more seriously on the Autobahn instead of treating it like a game or a chance to play with their phones

            Hit a bump in a road at 90+ and your average SUV would probably lift off the ground and lose control.

          • by Bryansix (761547) on Friday September 07, 2012 @05:31PM (#41267249) Homepage
            Actually, speed is rarely a factor in the cause of an accident. Most studies put it at below 15%. In fact Florida said it was 2.2%. http://www.motorists.org/speed-limits/faq [motorists.org]

            So really the insurance companies are just managing how many accidents are going to cause damage that's over the deductible.
        • by xaxa (988988) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:13PM (#41262253)

          The biggest difference is the time travelled during the reaction time.

          In 1.5s (standard reaction time), a car travelling at 85miles/hour travels 10 metres further than one travelling at 70miles/hour.

          Once the brakes are applied, perhaps to avoid an obstacle, the car travelling at 85miles/hour will be travelling significantly faster than the 70miles/hour one when it hits the obstacle -- braking isn't linear, and the difference between hitting the obstacle at 5mph and, say, 40mph can be fatal)

      • by harks (534599)
        Well, it's not Darwinism (at least not the good kind) when someone driving recklessly crashes into someone driving safely, and the increased speed results in the safe driver's death.
        • by HungWeiLo (250320) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:36PM (#41264027)

          Darwinism only affects the population if the dead driver has not yet reproduced. Since the minimum age for obtaining a driver's license is generally greater than the median breeding age in rural Texas, the increased speed limit may not have any impact on Darwinism's effects on the population there.

    • Re:Yeah but... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by operagost (62405) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:12PM (#41263399) Homepage Journal
      Montana ran with NO SPEED LIMITS, and overall, fatal accidents INCREASED when limits were put in again [motorists.org]. Let's stop pseudoscience and politics from spreading death on our roads.
  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by orthancstone (665890) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:24PM (#41261311)
    "We could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour."

    Hate to break it to Sandra, but that's the usual speed in many parts of Texas.
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeng (926980) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:30PM (#41261437)

      Hate to break it to Sandra, but that's the usual speed in many parts of Texas.

      As well as Wyoming, only state where I have been passed while going over 100mph.

      • by Kergan (780543)

        Try Germany. You'll get passed while at 200km/h (~125mph) in some areas.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

      by Megane (129182) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:59PM (#41262003) Homepage

      And...
      1: it's a toll road, which reduces traffic from the start
      2: it's a toll road, so there are fewer entrances and exits
      3: it's RFID toll tag or pay-by-mail (using license plate recognition cameras) ONLY, and existing toll booths on the north half will be removed, further reducing obstacles
      4: not only is it a divided highway (or "dual carriageway" as they say on the other side of the pond), but
      5: it's being built with a concrete surface, not asphalt (all the toll roads around Austin have been concrete) so you won't have potholes
      6: it completely bypasses the Austin metro area and the overloaded San Antonio to Austin I-35 route, even avoiding small towns (part of the point, since this would have been the route for the now-defunct TTC project)

      Even on the overloaded San Antonio to Austin section of I-35, traffic often goes 75-85mph when traffic is light.

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

      by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:28PM (#41262519)

      Well I drive on this road all the time, it's practically deserted because the locals, who refused to fund it with taxes (red state - taxes are just for crack mothers and layabouts, not for roads and shit), are in some sort of quasi-rebellion against the overseas interest who owns the road and put the toll system in place. 85 feels very slow, just the comparatively short run between the Austin airport and round rock feels like you're in the middle of nowhere and may not even see a car much less pass one. Only complete pussies ever drove below 80 on this road, even when the speed limit was 65. Now I expect to see 90-95, but with the exception below, it's straight, wide and open. There isn't a much safer place to go fast that close to a major city.

      Unfortunately as all the toll road speed limits have gone up, more and more people are out seemingly in protest, driving side by side way lower than the speed limit. We don't have a right lane for passing only law here, so you're stuck with them. So it may be 85 mph, but in practice you're stuck with the slowest person on the road.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:24PM (#41261319)

    Well, that's 136km/h - that's what our recommended travelling speed (130) on the "Autobahn" is in Germany.
    It has proven to be an excellent balance between emission (gears and cars are tuned to that speed), moving forward, but not braking too much due to other people's influences.

    Once again I have deep mis-respect for you "best country in the world" guys.

    • by repvik (96666) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:34PM (#41261519)

      And autobahn is one of the safest highways as well:

      Traffic zooms by on the German autobahn at 120 mph. The speed-limitless highway system stretches 6,800 miles and the Federal Ministry of Transport has declared the autobahn to be one of the safest road systems in the world despite the roaring, high speeds. US highways, on the other hand, rank as one of the most dangerous where speed limits range from 55 to 75 mph. Strict laws are believed to be the prominent reason the autobahn is safer than US highways.

      http://www.ehow.com/about_6726960_autobahn-safety-vs_-interstate-safety.html [ehow.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SerpentMage (13390)

        ROTFL yeah that ehow article is really accurate NOT...

        Let's start taking the arguments apart:

        The speed cameras are not impossible to spot. Actually dead easy and with trapster even easier. You just have to know what you are looking for.

        Drivers follow a strict... ROTFL, yeah right! Drivers tend to follow the rules, but not always. In fact the biggest problem right now is that everybody drives in the left lane even though you are supposed to let faster traffic through.

        You are required to put on a yellow vest

      • by spagthorpe (111133) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:47PM (#41261763)

        Yes, Germans take driving seriously and in my experience are probably better than most Americans. I know getting a license is more difficult there, and you never see anyone driving around eating a burger or talking on their cellphone. Even in the cities, people whip around very quickly, but I have never seen an accident during my stays.

      • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:48PM (#41261797)
        German requirements to obtain a license are orders of magnitude more strict than in the States. Safe drivers make safe roads.
    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:38PM (#41261573) Homepage Journal

      Well, that's 136km/h - that's what our recommended travelling speed (130) on the "Autobahn" is in Germany. It has proven to be an excellent balance between emission (gears and cars are tuned to that speed), moving forward, but not braking too much due to other people's influences.

      Once again I have deep mis-respect for you "best country in the world" guys.

      From Expatica: [expatica.com]

      The worst case Führeschein scenario is having to take a full driving course, like young German drivers do. "To get a regular driver's license," Christine explains, "you have to take 14 theory classes and at least 12 driving lessons. Driving schools usually offer them twice a week, so that takes about seven weeks. Depending on how quickly you learn, it can be done in about three months; but it usually takes longer, because of holidays and so forth. You start with the classroom sessions, and then move on to the driving portion, taking them in parallel so you learn the rules and also how to apply them." How many driving lessons you'll need to take depends on how quickly you learn. With 12 as the minimum, and 50 on the high end, the full licensing course can cost between EUR 1000-2000.

      Compare that to getting a license in the US:
      - @ 15.5 yrs, take lame written exam
      - @ 16 yrs, take lame driving "test" where you drive a couple laps around the city square or a big empty parking lot, then parallel park

      That is pretty much all the training most US drivers get, which may explain why we have significantly higher accident rates than Germany, even with lower speed limits on highways.

      • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:00PM (#41262017) Homepage Journal

        " take lame driving "test" where you drive a couple laps around the city square or a big empty parking lot, then parallel park"

        Which shithole place does your licensing? Memphis, TN DMV forced us to demonstrate we could operate on both highway and local streets when I got my license almost ten years ago.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:25PM (#41261331) Homepage Journal
    Don't like the higher speed limit? Don't drive on it.

    Doesn't get any simpler than that.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Don't like the higher speed limit? Don't drive on it.

      Doesn't get any simpler than that.

      Technically, the limit specifies a CEILING, not a floor speed. So just because the speed limit is 85mph, doesn't mean you HAVE to do 85mph. There probably is a minimum speed you must maintain, but you're free to choose any speed in-between.

      Just try to stick to the right hand lane to let faster traffic pass. And if you're on the cellphone doing whatever, you're slower traffic (why is it that cellphone users always seem to

      • Just try to stick to the right hand lane to let faster traffic pass. And if you're on the cellphone doing whatever, you're slower traffic (why is it that cellphone users always seem to be the cause of congestion?

        Because when we're in congestion we have more time to look around and see what other people are doing, and we're often frustrated to begin with. Combine these two things, and you get: see someone on phone, assign blame.

        Of course, sometimes they *are* to blame - but just as often it's clueless rubbernecking, volume, and/or fear of such difficult tasks as "merging".

      • by SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) on Friday September 07, 2012 @03:47PM (#41265563)

        And if you're on the cellphone doing whatever, you should be shot.

        FTFY.

        And by the way, the laws in some (probably many) states do state that you HAVE to go the speed limit, with a few exceptions. For example, here is the text from Arizona law:

        "A person shall not drive a motor vehicle at a speed that is less than the speed that is reasonable and prudent under existing conditions unless the speed that is reasonable and prudent exceeds the maximum safe operating speed of the lawfully operated implement of husbandry."

        "The speed that is reasonable and prudent under existing conditions" is defined elsewhere in the law as the speed limit if there's no bad weather, road hazards, etc.

        Most people driving below the limit would argue that it exceeds the max safe operating speed of the vehicle, but in reality most newer vehicles can drive the limit just fine. It's the driver who's not comfortable with driving the limit, blaming the car is just a convenient excuse.

        Of course, this provision is never, ever enforced. But it should be pretty obvious why it's there. People driving 20 MPH under the speed limit add nearly as much danger to the roads as people driving 20 MPH over the speed limit.

    • No, you can drive on it. Just stay in the right lane and you're cool. As a native Texan, we understand and will most often oblige. Just don't -for the love of God- scoot over in the left lane while driving slow unless you want a bumper rammed up your ass. Just some friendly and safe advice.

    • by Relayman (1068986)
      Driving too slow is just as dangerous. Minimum speed should be 65 mph.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:27PM (#41261373)

    With a speed limit of 10mph, you can virtually eliminate car related deaths on highways!

  • Autobahn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:27PM (#41261397)

    The sad fact is that its not speed that kills, its differential speed. Unfortunately our drivers training here is not really up to the standards it should be with modern machines. If you look at Germany they take drivers ed a lot more seriously, as well as licencing, with 6 month courses costing thousands of dollars being the norm. As well the rules of the Autobahn are strictly enforced, if you're going slow in the left lane you WILL be pulled over, just as quick if not quicker than you would for "speeding". Same with sudden lane changes, and just general bad driving. Speed doesnt kill, dumb drivers do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      The sad fact is that its not speed that kills, its differential speed.

      Technically, its energy transfer, disruption of tissue, and blood loss. But, other aspects of the regulatory and transit context remaining constant, higher highway speed limits -> more differential speed -> more collisions producing energy transfer, tissue disruption, etc.

      If you look at Germany they take drivers ed a lot more seriously, as well as licencing, with 6 month courses costing thousands of dollars being the norm.

      Well, yea

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Thanks genius you dded a fact to the conversation that, while technically correct*, it doesn't help in any real way what so ever.

        *the best kind of correct.

  • Autobahn (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:28PM (#41261419)

    The German Autobahn's have no speed limits in rural areas. I have driven at 160 Kph (i.e., 100 mph) and been routinely passed by faster vehicles. In fact, if you are in the left lane at that speed, they may get pretty annoyed with you if you don't get over immediately.

    My understanding is that the German Auto Club serves a function much like the US NRA. Touch the speed limit, and your political career will be limited.

  • by v1 (525388) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:31PM (#41261461) Homepage Journal

    'When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You're going to have a lot more fatalities.'"

    That happens anytime you raise the speed limit. from 55 to 65. from 45 to 55. from 10 to 20. We've already had this argument brought up multiple times, and you lost. Take that argument and go away.

    Statistically speaking anyway, once you're hurtling down the road at 65 mph or faster, you're already well over the curve for speed-to-lethality tradeoff. Dropping your odds of survival from 2% to 1.8% really doesn't impress me that much.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:14PM (#41262279)

      That happens anytime you raise the speed limit. from 55 to 65.

      Accident rates in Colorado lowered when they raised the speed limit from 65 to 75.

      One good reason you are not accounting for is that no matter what the speed limit is, drivers drive at a speed they consider comfortable on a highway. That means that people like you imperil everyone else by sticking close to an old and arbitrary speed limit. Once you raise the limits there is a much greater equalization of people driving around the same speed, making the whole road safer.

  • by Control-Z (321144) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:31PM (#41261469)

    Just stay out of the left lane when not passing and driving will be much safer for everyone.

    • Just stay out of the left lane when not passing and driving will be much safer for everyone.

      And frankly, use your brain before getting into the left lane to pass.

      That person approaching in the left lane behind you is likely going much faster than you think they are, and you're about to cut off enough kinetic force to flatten you.

  • by Glasswire (302197) <.glasswire. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:31PM (#41261471) Homepage

    If it's a toll road and you have to some to a complete stop or at least slow down dramatically to pay with coins or read your transponder every few miles, you're net actual speed may not be that much higher than a 70mph road with no obstructions (depending on number and wait times at toll booths)

    • Re:Net actual speed (Score:4, Informative)

      by Desler (1608317) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:37PM (#41261555)

      You don't have to pull over. It has cameras that check your toll tag on your car or snaps your license plate to charge you for the trip. Any modern tollroad is like this. They do have places to pull over if you want to pay in cash but it's not required. You can blas up 45 miles from Austin to Georgetown currently without ever stopping.

    • by PTBarnum (233319)

      Modern cameras and transponder readers work just fine at highway speeds. If you have to slow down to pay a toll, you're dealing with legacy equipment.

  • Some view freedom as a teenager: I can do anything I want, damn the consequences.

    Some view freedom as an adult: I can do anything I want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

    When you speed, you put other lives at risk, not just your own.

    Freedom does not mean freedom from responsibility. In fact, in a land of people who don't act with responsibility, real freedom pretty much doesn't exist either.

    You can see these same problems in the debate on drug use, on healthcare, etc. Some people are just immature and believe freedom means the consequences of their actions don't figure into their conception of freedom.

    "Your Liberty To Swing Your Fist Ends Just Where My Nose Begins"

    -Oliver Wendell Holmes

  • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:38PM (#41261583)
    Then you really dont have to worry about anything. of course when traveling back and forth in time i could always collide with another vehicle. Oh and i also need lightning.
  • Welcome (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pmontra (738736) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:39PM (#41261603) Homepage
    I live in Italy. The highway speed limit here is 130 km/h (81 mph), 90 km/h (56 mph) on normal roads and 50 km/h (31 mph) inside the cities, with some 30 km/h areas. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate [wikipedia.org] (OECD data) there are 8.7 road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year and 12 per 100,000 motor vehicles. The corresponding figures for the U.S.A. are 12.3 and 15. That's 41% and 25% more respectively. It hints that speed limits don't necessarily have a direct correlation with deaths. Cars, road conditions and (most important of all) driver behavior make the difference. Keep your eyes on the road is the first recommendation I can't think about (btw, there are 1.47 mobile phones per person in Italy vs 1.039 in the USA - found on wikipedia - so it's not texting or calling that accounts for the difference - many people do that while driving here). That said, I welcome raising speed limits a little: it's good for Americans that will get home earlier and good for European tourists that won't fall asleep driving on straight roads at 55 mph anymore :-)
  • by Tomahawk (1343) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:40PM (#41261613) Homepage

    For those of us who don't know mph, here's some conversions to km/h:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+85+mph+in+kph [google.com] (etc)

    100mph =~ 160.934km/h (by definition)
    95mph =~ 152.9
    90mph =~ 144.8km/h
    85mph = ~136.8km/h (motorways in Italy, among other countries, have speed limits of 130km/h)
    80mph =~ 128.7km/h
    75mph =~ 128.7km/h
    74.5mph =~ 120km/h (this is the motorway speed limit in Ireland)
    70mph =~ 112.65 km/h (this is the motorway speed limit in the UK)

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:43PM (#41261687) Journal

    I drive a pretty nice 2000 300+HP car. I also drive a 1980 180HP truck. There is no way I'd drive my truck like I do my sports car. It doesn't have crash impact standards, no air bags, no ABS, rear drums, steering gear. I'm happy a 65mph in that thing.

    Now get in my 300HP car with traction control, airbags, a super suspension, 4 disc brakes, rack & pinion steering. I am happy at 80mph. Newer versions of my car are happy at 100mph. I was positively horrified when I got stuck doing just the speed limit the other day. It was _so_slow. 5mph difference at 40mph is a huge percentage (12.5%) whereas at 80, it's 6% of the speed limit

    Over the years, we get better at making things safer. Better rubber, suspensions, steering, aerodynamics. It should be true that we can drive faster on the same roads given overall equipment improvement.

  • by snadrus (930168) on Friday September 07, 2012 @12:46PM (#41261749) Homepage Journal
    I've been to the North-East US and understand that most roads in Europe look the same, so here's what's to know about this road:
    - This road is where there is a lot of flat land. Even at 85 you can see where you will be in a few minutes (and virtually not take a turn until you get there). You can also see any animals that may enter this road, but it's mostly a bridge anyway which avoids that.
    - There's nothing to see on this road. No billboards or distractions. No gas stations, restaurants, few farm houses. Few exits.
    - The road has heavy steel guard rails that would stop most anything driving along it. These rails are after over a car lane of margin. A few places don't where it's just flatland for 1000s of feet.
    - The state-standard noisy edge-of-the-road keeps drivers from hitting the road's guard rails.
    - If I drove you on it blindfolded (in a car whose engine noise doesn't give away the speed like mine does), you'd think we were driving - Very light traffic. No old cars
    - The biggest risk was just getting bored, & speed helps this.
  • by djl4570 (801529) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:07PM (#41262125) Journal
    Years ago when we finally got rid of the double nickle speed limit there were people predicting carnage on the nations highways. I tried to run the numbers and came up with inconsistent results. Here's a couple of stats I remember from that era:
    AAA reported that over eighty percent of injury accidents occur at speeds under forty miles per hour and within a few miles of home. This was in their monthly magazine.
    At the same time it was widely reported that half of all traffic fatalities were the result of intoxicated drivers. (Alcohol, drugs.)
    Those two stats leave very little room for accidents on high speed freeways where speed is the sole factor in the accident.
  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:08PM (#41262153)

    'If you're looking at an 85 mph speed limit, we could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour,' says Sandra Helin, president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service. 'When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You're going to have a lot more fatalities.'"

    The design ideal for a speed limit is to set it at the 85th percentile of the speeds typical drivers drive in average conditions. That means that 15 percent of drivers will likely exceed the empirical design speed limit.

    The typical speeder drives 5-15 mph over the speed limit because they would otherwise be within the top 15 percent, and because it does not make them so obtrusive that they are likely to get caught.

    Ms. Helin and her ilk (every speed limit change or recommendation brings one crawling out of the woodwork) would have the speed limit set so that the people otherwise traveling at 5-15mph over the speed limit (otherwise within the 15 percent) are traveling at what would approximately be the 85th percentile speed, effectively compressing the high tail of the statistical distribution due to the aforementioned effect of law enforcement.

    This means (following their proscription) that the actual speed limit must be set well below the 85th percentile speed, such as... let's pick the 50th percentile because it makes for very easy reference and math later on... are the 35 percent, otherwise in the 50th-85th percentile speed range, from a design perspective only, unreasonably dangerous for traveling at their preferred speed? Of course, from a legal perspective they are 'lawbreakers.'

    Most importantly, the difference between the 50th percentile and the 85th percentile, if you have a gaussian distribution of speeds, is 1 standard deviation. The difference between the 85th and 95th percentile is another whole standard deviation.
    The difference between the 95th percentile and the 99th percentile is yet another standard deviation.
    Who is your 15 mph speeder? Are they traveling at the 95th percentile speed... the 99th percentile speed?

    Very roughtly, since the distribution shape will of course change and not be gaussian with speed enforcement, if it ever was to begin with:

    To restrain that second standard deviation -- 10 percent -- by artifically lowering the speed limit, are you willing to make 35 percent of people drive below their preferred speed?

    To restrain that third standard deviation -- 14 percent in total -- by artificially lowering the speed limit, are you willing to make b>70 percent of people drive below their preferred speed?

    Of course this all depends upon how those 5-15mph speeders fit within the tail of the distribution. But in general, the insurance instrustry says "Yes!." And this is why you (with varying but non-trivial probability) are a lawbreaker.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:17PM (#41263483) Homepage

    I lived in northern Nevada, and I saw the statistics when they increased the speed limits. Interestingly, while the number of fatalities went up, the number of accidents went down. That seems odd until you look at the most common type of accident: single-car rollover caused by driver inattention. In other words, the driver fell asleep at the wheel and ran off the road. The faster you're going, the more likely that kind of accident is to kill you. OTOH, the faster you drive the less time you spend on the road, the less tired you get and the less chance you have to fall asleep in the first place. So, fewer accidents but when one happens it's more severe.

    And, should we care about these accidents? They don't involve other cars, the only person injured or killed was the cause of the accident. I can't get nearly as worked up about someone getting killed because of their own stupidity as about say a family getting killed because someone else T-boned their car. And remember, these high-speed stretches aren't surface streets, or even urban freeways. They're rural freeways. In Nevada we're talking roads where you can go 10-20 miles between bends in the road, and where you may see another car every hour or so. On 300-400 mile trips that extra speed cuts significant time off the trip (for a 300-mile no-need-to-stop stretch 75mph vs. 55mph means 4 hours vs. 5.4, or close to an hour and a half less time at the faster speed limit) which again means you spend less time driving tired.

Recursion is the root of computation since it trades description for time.

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