We all speed, unless there’s extenuating circumstances, like a patrol car nearby, or ice on the road, so the question isn’t if speeding is okay or not, but rather when, and to what extent is okay.
School Zone = Zero Tolerence
While there’s really no reason for high schools and junior high schools to have reduced speed limits, the areas surrounding elementary schools are sacred.
There’s just no way around the fact that small kids, especially boys, become oblivious to their surroundings when playing with one another. Now, combine that with the joy of seeing their school buddies for the first time in the morning, or with their release from the boredom of school, and you’ve got a recipie for little bodies “coloring outside the lines.”
Ask any parent (worth spit), and they will tell you that they would take the place of Jesus on the cross in a heartbeat to ensure the safety of their little ones. They’d also gleefully skin a man, who hurt their little cherrub, with a wooden spoon. Parents also have an uncanny ability to see their own child in the children of others, so you should expect no quarter from officers on speeding in a school zone.
30 MPH is Fast in Residential Areas
While some neighborhoods have extra wide streets, which make it psychologically more difficult to maintain the 30 mile an hour limit, residential areas have the presence of small children at play issue to a lesser extent than school zones. Plus, there’s the issue of cars parked on the sides of the road, which conceal the presence of said children. Let’s face it, given the relatively narrow streets, presence of site obstructions, and the high probability of people on the road way, 30 miles an hour is plenty fast in most residential areas.
“15 Over” Is A Bad Idea
Most of us have heard the “15 Over” rule. I would offer to you that this is a police officer’s rule for when they start issuing citations on interstate speed violations. So, if you follow this rule, you will almost certainly drive close to that limit, then unintentionally drift over the line into citation land, when you get distracted. Unfortunately the officer only gets to see that brief moment, so your otherwise safe driving is moot.
Friendly’s Rule of Thumb
I recommend using 35 + 5 and 50 + 10. That is to say, once you hit 35, you can safely add 5 MPH to the posted limit, and at 50, you can add 10 MPH, with little chance of citation.
Reasonableness is Key
At almost any trial for a speeding citation, the prosecutor will ask the officer if the speed of the defendant was reasonable and prudent. This reflects the fact that the intent of speed limits is safety.
In fact, in Texas, there are two types of speed limit signs. The white signs are statutory, and the orange signs are advisory. The statutory signs are based off of speed surveys, which presumably determine what is a reasonable and prudent speed for a certain stretch of road. The advisory signs are more of a best guess. As a result, the white signs can be enforced to the letter, or number as it were, while the orange signs can only be enforced if an officer can articulate why he believes your speed was not reasonable and prudent under the conditions present at the time.
However, this cuts both ways, and even if you were driving under the white posted statutory speed limit, you can still be issued a citation for speeding, if the officer can articulate that your speed was not reasonable and prudent. The idiot doing 60 on the interstate covered in ice would be a prime example of this.
So there you have it. What do you think about speed limits? Are strictly enforcible limits really useful, or should officers always have to articulate the danger of driver’s speed? Why?