Thursday 19 April 2012
Speed is Relative - or is it?
There was an interesting video recently posted on YouTube where someone on a Yamaha blasted up the highway on Vancouver Island at speeds into the 300kph range. Reaction from the media and law enforcement was swift and predictable: catch the offender and throw the book at him - it was probably a ‘him’. So was my thought - at first.
So what is “too fast”? Was the motorcyclist “reckless”?
I changed my tune about the video after I asked a simple question: what happened during the ride that was not expected? I’m pretty confident that he expected to ride without getting caught, expected to arrive in one piece without crashing , expected the bike to be mechanically sound and most obviously, expected that he was capable of handling the situation. So, given all that, the answer I came up with was: so what? Nothing happened.
We make a big deal about distracted driving: talking on cell phones, eating, reading the paper, etc. I doubt very much that these would be issues for drivers going 130 or more. They would be concentrating on getting the job done and would, in fact, be safer drivers at that time. Even at 120 in a 100kph zone, it would seem that the police are less concerned about cleaning up accident spots than they are about losing revenue. To be fair, it’s not the police that are really concerned about revenue loss, it’s the government. The police are just placed as tax collectors.
There are times when even the posted limit is ridiculously fast: poor weather, heavy traffic to name but a few. Sometimes we look at speed signs not only as a ‘maximum’ but also as a ‘minimum’.
What if we just used common sense?
What would happen if speed limits in school zones disappeared? Would everyone forget the 30kph limit and drive like mad when kids are around and cars parked at the roadside? I doubt it. Maybe even fewer injuries would result.
What about on the highway? Imagine traffic flowing nicely at 130kph in a 100 zone, everyone paying attention and then someone spots a police car coming towards the column. He steps on the brakes to slow down and suddenly there is chaos. What was the contributing factor? Speeding or changing speed?
I have a funny feeling that if all the speed signs disappeared overnight, people would sort themselves out. Sure you’d still have drivers who go too fast for conditions, are impaired either on alcohol or drugs, are unaware of the surroundings, are lost or any other number of problems. Maybe the biker wouldn’t pull the stunt because it would not be such a Big Deal and not be so in-your-face.
Deal more harshly with those drivers and those with poorly maintained vehicles. There are better ways to collect taxes and much better ways to deploy the police.