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Speed Kills

Posted on Saturday 5th May 2007 at 00:00
As I was driving along the M4 today I was struck with a new theory about why people speed. The government and road safety campaigners have quite a few ideas on this. Some claim it is because we are all thoroughly immoral. Others suggest it is poor education on speed limits. The more preachy members of this community will bellow from the pulpit that it is proof that the modern motorist doesn't give a crap about other road users and is perfectly happy to kill as many as is possible. It has even been suggested by Whitehall brown nosers that people speed because there aren't enough speed cameras on the roads.

This is not the reason though; not even close. The real reason why your average driver allows his motor vehicle to slowly creep up and over the speed limit is because there is nothing more arse-achingly dull, tedious and irritating than trying to hold a car at exactly 30MPH or 70MPH or whatever the limit happens to be. Neither cars nor drivers are designed with this purpose in mind. Even if you keep your foot in exactly the same position on the accelerator pedal at all times, the variations in road surface, incline, wind speed and scenery guarantee that your overall speed will fluctuate considerably.

If the machine were up to such a challenge, the driver is definitely not, what with moving muscles in the feet, changing traffic conditions and attractive girls in short skirts walking along the pavement. There is so much to react to when behind the wheel of a car and the speed limit really shouldn't be one such factor.

The truth is that every second spent checking your speed for fear of seeing that awful flash in your rear view mirror is a second you aren't watching the road and what is going on around you. God knows how many times I've had to brake hard to avoid someone because my eyes were glued to my speedo, battling against the forces of nature to keep that blasted needle directly in line with what the signs say as I shoot past them.

So, I've got a new plan. Instead of having exact speed limits we have limit ranges that are designed to give drivers a bit of leeway on the roads. This is how it would work: Instead of 30MPH meaning 30MPH exactly, that speed would become the target speed that drivers try to aim for. So that they aren't forced to check their speed more often than is advisable, they are given an acceptable range of maybe 5MPH either side. That way, so long as everyone is driving at approximately the right speed, no one need worry too much about being caught and so will be able to concentrate more on actually driving around.

Yes, yes, I know that this idea is supposed to be already in place, what with acceptable 10% margins on speed cameras, but I've known people being fined for going less than 1MPH over the limit, so clearly it isn't working as it is. Well publicised rules with plenty of lenience to drivers is the best way to more on from this current predicament and restore faith in our roads and those who police them.

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