Social Question

Blackberry's avatar

So.....what would happen if the speed limit was raised everywhere by 10MPH?

Asked by Blackberry (31903points) August 9th, 2010

Seriously….when’s the last time you actually saw a group of cars going the speed limit? In my short experience, I see all of the people going 75–80 having to make snap decisions to go around the person going 65. It just seems counter productive to commerce and traffic if a few people are going slower than everyone else.

Is driving 80MPH really that dangerous? Is driving 35 instead of 25 that dangerous as well, what if we had a minimum speed limit in some areas? Would that help speed up traffic?

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42 Answers

CMaz's avatar

I would burn more gas. And, not get much further.

Facade's avatar

I think the 35 mph zones and slower are fine as they are. I’d like to see more highways with a 65 mph limit.

Seek's avatar

I drive the speed limit, and am shocked at the dirty looks and rudeness I encounter on a daily basis

People would be jackasses at a higher speed. Nothing would change.

If the speed limit is 25, someone wants to drive 35. If it’s 70, someone wants to drive 90. It doesn’t matter what the number is – it’s just never high enough for some people.

Our interstates have a minimum speed of 40 to 45, and a max of 55 to 70. I am consistently the slowest car on the road. I have no problem with that – I’d MUCH rather have a 70 MPH accident than a 95 MPH accident, that’s for damned sure.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

The problem is, if the speed limit were increased by 10 mph, everyone’s speeding would be faster, too. If the speed limit was 75, people would go 85, etc.

I saw this when I was driving in Arizona, where the speed limit was 75 in some places…

Aster's avatar

It was 90 going to Niagra Falls. Wow! What a shocker! That is, I don’t remember the speed limit , just that everyone was driving 90.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Aster Was it in the U.S. or Canada? It took me awhile to get used to driving 80 km/hr in Canada.

Aster's avatar

@Dr_Dredd In the sixties. We were in Canada.

freejack's avatar

Deceleration upon impacting a stationary object will hurt a helluva lot more.

DominicX's avatar

Most people I know would probably get ticketed less. Either that or they’d all drive 10 MPH faster than they already do.

marinelife's avatar

More accidents.

jfos's avatar

There would still be aggressive a-holes and obedient d-bags.

Blackberry's avatar

@jfos Lol…...Yeah.

Kraigmo's avatar

Residential speed limits are properly set, and should not be raised. Narrow streets with lots of driveways are 25 MPH, and they should never be raised.

But the streets that are currently 45 MPH and above…. ALL of those limits can be raised by 10, with no net negative safety impact whatsoever.

Highways and freeways would be far safer if we raised the limits to 90 MPH. People flip over this logic and don’t understand it.

But if highways and freeways had a 90 MPH upper limit, with strict enforcement (which, within months would be replaced by natural obedience) of “Fast stay left, slow, stay right”.... our lives, highways, and freeways, would all be tremendously safer.

Think of all the times when some slug-of-a-driver causes a slow down behind him that ripples for miles and miles, all because he chose on a whimsy to be in the left lane where he didn’t belong. The days of that would be Over.

Think of all the dangerous merges you’ve had to make, while on an onramp, because some slug-of-a-driver in front of you chose to drive real slow (and in his stupid mind “careful”, which it’s not) as he entered the freeway, causing a jammed convoy to occur behind the guy. In fact, on onramps… we need MINIMUM speeds to be enforced, with waivers for heavy trucks and Volkswagens that just can’t do it.

And besides, if speed limits were raised to 90 MPH…. the average actual speed would still be 65 MPH on heavy traveled freeways or 85 MPH on long desert roads. Speeders do a service to everybody by taking up available space. This increases traffic flow and reduces congestion. It’s time to legalize speeding by raising the limit.

Leucip's avatar

probably nothing

YARNLADY's avatar

The gasoline companies would be happier.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

But if highways and freeways had a 90 MPH upper limit, with strict enforcement (which, within months would be replaced by natural obedience) of “Fast stay left, slow, stay right”.... our lives, highways, and freeways, would all be tremendously safer.

@Kraigmo But how do you define “fast” and “slow”? With a 90 mph speed limit, is 75 fast? 85? Seems like it’s all relative.

perspicacious's avatar

Not much. I think the interstates should be 80 MPH and I don’t think local police should have been granted ticketing jurisdiction on these roads.

jerv's avatar

Well, there are many places that don’t have the low speed limits we do and they manage to get by just fine; they have lower highway fatality rates than we do in the US!

The simple truth is that people are going to be jackasses, especially in the US.

My solution is to be anti-American and take a lesson from overseas here. In the US, anybody over 18 who has $50 and can write their name can get a license. In Norway or Japan, you need classes to pass an arduous test, and whole process is expensive enough that you don’t dare do anything that would risk you losing your license.

Now, is we had to pay $1000 for a license and a bit more for the lessons required to be able to pass the test, I am pretty sure that people would be less jackass-like. I know for a fact that people would at least know how to drive better. Few things more dangerous than an incompetent jackass on the road who thinks they can drive merely because they haven’t gotten killed yet.

@ChazMaz I have disproven that whole “driving slower always saves gas” spiel with personal experience so many times that it’s gone from a pet peeve to a psychosis.
Those that have refuted me have never seen my trip odometer or how many gallons it takes me to refill, and most do not understand enough about cars to understand even the simple things like the torque curve being a measure of the volumetric efficiency of the engine. Hell, they don’t even understand that going 270 miles on 9.8 gallons is more efficient that travelling the same distance on 10.3 gallons!

Kraigmo's avatar

@Dr_Dredd , this is easy. You’re right. It is relative, to the situation at hand. Everytime. As long as you are passing cars that are on your right side, then all is well. The speed itself really doesn’t matter. Then… when someone behind you is faster, AND the lane to your right is also faster… at that point, one should move to the right. By always engaging in this human algorithm, traffic can safely flow, and no one is in danger of speeders/tailgaiters or slow clods in the left lane getting in the way, because they won’t be put in any positions where they are in someone’s way. The speeders will know to Stay Left, and the slow clods… finally having legal clarity on this issue… will stay to the right where they’ve belonged all along.

There’s a place for everyone in the road. Slowdowns and bunchups never, EVER need to occur, except when there’s just too many cars, such as in LA, DC, or NY.

I live in a county that is sparce though, and anytime there’s a dangerous bunchup on our freeways, there’s invariably a jerk in the front left parallelling all the traffic on his right, causing problems for miles and miles behind him.

Recent computer models of traffic have proven that drivers who take up available space are actually the most helpful drivers on the road. The “slow, careful” types (along with the reckless type of speeder) are the most dangerous.

jerv's avatar

@Kraigmo What about the ones that are doing 55 MPH (in a 60 zone) in the middle lane with nobody in front of them for half a mile who decide to do a lane change because you are coming up in the left lane at 60-ish, but they wait until you are close enough to have to slam on the brakes or swerve before they change lanes?
What about the ones who speed up by 5–10MPH when you are passing them?
What about the ones that pass you at 75, get in front of you, and then slow down to 55?

Kraigmo's avatar

@jerv asked: What about the ones that are doing 55 MPH (in a 60 zone) in the middle lane with nobody in front of them for half a mile who decide to do a lane change because you are coming up in the left lane at 60-ish, but they wait until you are close enough to have to slam on the brakes or swerve before they change lanes?

There is no reason for them to do the lane change going to the left. That is rude behavior. They should be on the right side of the road, if nobody is on the road.

What about the ones who speed up by 5–10MPH when you are passing them?

People who go slow, when cars are behind them…then speed up when cars are next to them… are assholes. Half of them don’t even do the behavior consciously, they’re just thoughtless assholes. We can’t solve the problem of assholes… but we can stop rewarding their behavior by more intelligent use of laws. Rather than just sticking to “speed”, the laws should be far more complex.

What about the ones that pass you at 75, get in front of you, and then slow down to 55?

Nobody will be able to pass you if you are going the proper speed in the left lane to begin with. If you are slower than the traffic behind you and the lane to your right is clear… that #2 lane is the one you should be in. Then the 75 MPH/55 MPH jerk will pass you on the left AS HE SHOULD. Then if he slows down causing him to be slower than you…. that is his problem and the problem of the people behind him. They’ll probably start tailgaiting him, and he’ll deserve it. Furthermore, after legalizing high speeds, we should then criminalize heavily stupid maneuvers… such as driving slower in the left lane than the cars behind you want you to drive, when the right lanes are same speed or faster.

jerv's avatar

@Kraigmo You’ve obviously never driven anywhere where I have driven then :D
I used to have that happen all the time on two-lane roads in NH. I would be going 5-over and see a dot in my rear-view closing fast. I figure that anyone who can close that gap that quickly will keep going fast after they pass me, but noooo!
Some places will allow speeding but nail tailgaters and those “obstructing the flow of traffic” by doing the speed limit. Personally, I think that there are many other forms of stupidity that should be criminalized, but why not start with the roads?

Kraigmo's avatar

@jerv the dynamics of 2-lane roads are more restrictive. The same rule should apply, but unlike a 4-lane road… there will be more unavoidable crowding. Since there are only two lanes, one of them being a merge lane, I can understand why people cannot maintain a good 85 MPH in the left lane at all times. They should only drive faster than the other lane is moving, whether that’s a high speed or low speed. They’d be courteous to go fast as safely possible, but morally they only owe it to us to go faster than the #2 lane. When a person who wants to go faster is behind them, the faster person should patiently wait until that front-person is able to get into the right lane… which could be awhile on a 2-lane road. The front person has a duty to keep passing the cars on his or her right though.

As for those jerks in NH who speed up to pass you, then slow down (for no reason)... well I can’t stand people like that. People need to act more like New Yorkers when it comes to these issues. When I pass a mindless driver who causes issues, I make sure I do something that wakes them up.

jerv's avatar

@Kraigmo Actually, 90% of the people who did that to me in NH were flatlanders, often from Connecticut. Most NH and VT drivers are not that jackassed, and MA drivers tend to stay on teh gas after passing.
Personally, I do what I can to ensure that people who pass me intend to get away from me ASAP, whether by acceleration or just getting the hell out of my way. The fact that my cars often come to me with bid dents or otherwise make me look more dangerous than I am (my current ride has a huge skull on the hood) helps encourage people to keep their distance.

mattbrowne's avatar

Higher gas prices. More carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

Kraigmo's avatar

@mattbrowne , i’m sure you’ve driven or been driven on the autobahn.

Do you really think the motorists there are wasting more gas than the motorists on the freeways of America?

I think the idea that “closer to 60 MPH, the more gas you save” is only true in a lab with one single car. In real life, it is more important to drive flowingly with traffic and conditions at hand. This is good for both safety and gas conservation.

If everyone actually obeyed the speed limit, or if it was strictly lowered… this would happen

Traffic flows best (and thus gas is best saved, overall) when cars drive at different speeds from each other, but within a pattern of fast on the left and slow on the right.

I realize gas prices are higher in Germany, but they’re higher in all of Europe regardless of the local speed limit

mattbrowne's avatar

@Kraigmo – Yes, of course. But my normal speed on the autobahn is 70 mph and if I’m really in a hurry 85 mph. Never more although even my Ford Fiesta and many parts of the autobahns would allow me to go 110. I do this for 3 reasons

1) Safety – Unexpected things do happen. Speed increases risk. I rarely use the left lane when there are three lanes
2) Wasting less gas. Saving money. Saving the atmosphere
3) Longer life of my car and all its parts. I barely use the brakes anticipating traffic. My tires last a long time

I go extra slow in residential areas, even slower when I see kids. They are unpredictable.

Seek's avatar


If everyone actually obeyed the speed limit, or if it was strictly lowered… this would happen

Wrong. That backup happened because the four people in front deliberately drove considerably slower than everyone else wanted to, and acted rudely and dangerously by not allowing other drivers to pass.

If everyone simply maintained a maximum speed of 55 (with of course the normal variations as necessary) that would not happen. The people in the slower lanes could travel at a comfortable pace for them, and everyone should in theory leave the left lane open for passing.

jerv's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr And my fuel economy would go from ~27.4MPG to around 26.5MPG. Trust me, I’ve tried that with a few different vehicles over the years and while the actual numbers vary those numbers are for my current car) the point stands that my MPG has always dropped at 55 MPH whether if be a lightweight 4th-gen Civic with a 1.5L engine, an Aerostar with a 3.0L six-banger, a stick-shift, or an automatic.
Look at the volumetric efficiency of an engine throughout it’s RPM range and, if you know math and/or science, you should be able to figure out why that is. Ill give you a hint though; most people drive at an RPM that is far less efficient than the maximum that their engine is capable of.
Aerodynamics play a role in that a faster vehicle requires more power to maintain speed, but if you can go 10% faster while only using 9% more fuel per unit of time then your MPG increases.

FWIW, the best MPG I ever had was on a trip where I was doing 80–85 most of the way. It was a light, fairly aerodynamic car with an engine and gearing such that keeping the tachometer at 2800RPM allowed me to get almost a 15% increase in my fuel economy. Another car I had managed to get nearly a 50% increase in MPG at the same speed, but prolonged operation at ~4000 RPM (it was a three-speed) caused issues that make me say that it wasn’t the best even though the MPG gain was dramatically higher.

55MPH saves gas… my ass!

@mattbrowne My current rig gets the best MPG around 65 MPH but once I hit 70, it requires me to press the pedal hard enough to make my MPG drop notably. Accordingly, I don’t drive much faster than I normally would even when I am in a hurry.

Seek's avatar


I’m much less concerned with saving gas than I am with not being hit by someone driving 85 in a 55 and not paying attention.

jerv's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Well, you better not ever drive near the Boston area. (The Boston metroplex reaches to the border of Maine, so it’s pretty much the Eastern third of the state)

On parts of Route 2 and many of the other surrounding highways (all 55 zones), 80–85 is the normal flow and anything below 70 is obstructing traffic or begging to be rear-ended. It’s not that they aren’t paying attention; they are aiming for you!

I wish I were exaggerating, but some of them really are that aggressive and think nothing of playing “Chicken”. The rest of the state is relatively sane but Boston-area drivers have issues… and by “issues”, I mean that they are fucking psychotic.

Of course, those psychos are more competent than drivers in many other parts of the country. BTW, how fast could you drive in a white-out at 2AM in a car with bald tires on an icy road that the salt trucks haven’t hit yet? Could you do it at 40–45 without leaving the road or hitting anyone/anything? Would you? If not, don’t drive where I used to. If you can’t hang with the big dogs, stay under the porch!

Seattle is a different story. The people here often drive the speed limit or less, but are not paying attention and thus are more dangerous at 55 (or even 35) than a Bostonian at 85. Needless to say, adjusting was a little difficult.

Seek's avatar

That is ridiculous. Why on earth should I risk a $400 traffic ticket (not to mention life and limb) so some idiots can show off their stick-shift agility?

jerv's avatar

You assume others are logical, and that is a fallacy.

I did it because I lived in NH had family in Boston.
They do it because. That’s it; just “because”.
You call it “ridiculous”, I call it “reality”.

Face it,different areas are different and not all people are suited for all areas. My wife is unsuited for the highways of eastern MA because she is sane.

jerv's avatar

I almost forgot; the police find it easier to ticket one unsafe obstructionist slowpoke than to pull over dozens of speeders per minute, so guess which one of us would be more likely to get pulled over ;)

mattbrowne's avatar

“On August 12, 2010, a Swedish motorist was caught driving at 290km/h (180mph) in Switzerland and could be given a world-record speeding fine of SFr1.08m ($1m; £656,000), prosecutors say. The 37-year-old, who has not been named, was clocked driving his Mercedes sports car at 170km/h over the limit. Under Swiss law, the level of fine is determined by the wealth of the driver and the speed recorded.

In January, a Swiss driver was fined $290,000 – the current world record. Local police spokesman Benoit Dumas said of the latest case that “nothing can justify a speed of 290km/h”.

“It is not controllable. It must have taken 500m to stop,” he said. The Swede’s car – a Mercedes SLS AMG – has been impounded and in principle he could be forced to pay a daily fine of SFr3,600 for 300 days.”

jerv's avatar

Not controllable? That is a matter of both driver skill and of the limits of the vehicle. There is a reason that cars capable of those speeds (like an SLS) have the suspension and tires that they do, but even the best sports car in the world will be uncontrollable at a mere walking pace if the driver is a moron. By the same token, a beat-to-shit Hachi-roku (mid/late-80s Toyota Corolla RWD) can be controlled perfectly even in the midst of an inertial drift by a good driver.

Still, I agree that nothing can justify 290kph on a public road. My personal tolerance drops around 90MPH/150kph. (Yes, that means that the roads around Boston test my patience.)

Kraigmo's avatar

That’s interesting that Switzerland fines drivers based on their income. Why are the Swiss so often more intelligent than America on dealing with these types of issues?

jerv's avatar

@Kraigmo Because punishing the poor and slapping the rich on the wrist is the American way! Tradition has nothing to do with intelligence.

Seek's avatar


I find it hard to believe that any judge would uphold a ticket issued to a driver that was clearly not doing anything illegal.

The guy could pull me over, sure. If I’m over the minimum (40) and under the maximum (assuming 55), wearing my seat belt, have my daytime running lights on, etc. what could he possibly ticket me for?

Kraigmo's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr, he couldn’t ticket you for anything at all in the #2 lane and higher.
And you live in a state that has minimums, so I’m not sure your State’s enforcement policy.

But if you live in CA, and you are driving the under the limit in the #1 lane of the freeway, and there’s more than 5 cars behind you, and people on your right are passing you…. in many areas, they’ll pull you over and ticket you. As they should. Even if you were obeying the “posted limit” and everyone else was breaking it. The Basic Speed Law here supersedes any posted limit, and the Basic Speed law can be applied up or down.

By “you” i meant in the random sense. I don’t think you personally would ever be rude enough to drive slower in the left lane for no real reason.

jerv's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Reckless endangerment is legal?

YARNLADY's avatar

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