Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Tom asks: First, a definition: The 85th Percentile Speed. The speed at or below which 85 percent of drivers travel on a stretch of open clear highway. It is the safest speed with the most compliance. Would I be in the ballpark to say that the 85th Percentile Speed is a Natural Law of Driving? An FHwA study found that 90% of the time posted limits are between 8 and 16 MPH below the 85th Percentile Speed (to facilitate the enforcement-for-profit racket sweeping the nation-my note).
My reply: To paraphrase something Churchill supposedly said… the 85th percentile speed is the worst speed limit… except for all the others. I personally – because morally – would prefer no speed limits at all; I’d rather speed advisories.
Speed limits are inherently generic and one-size-fits-all. I see no reason to punish a high-skill driver merely for driving faster than whatever a sign says is legal. He may be operating well within his own limits and in better control of his car than the low-skilled driver hewing to the speed limit. I’ve come to know many race drivers and instructors over the years; I’d rather encounter any of these at 120 MPH than I would my ex wife or her mom doing the speed limit.
Speed advisories make sense to me because they inform rather than punish; they can be very helpful to a driver not familiar with a given stretch of road.
How about we leave people be unless they cause harm?
If someone causes an accident, that is objective evidence that he was not in control of his vehicle and ought to be held responsible for harms caused. But a driver who has not caused any harm ought not to be punished because someone feels he “might,” because they feel he is driving “too fast.”
Using that arbitrary and subjective standard, it would be legitimate to punish people for all kinds of things they do which haven’t hurt anyone but … might.
That leads to a busybody nation of empowered control freaks.
Which, unsurprisingly, is just what we’ve got!
. . .
Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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