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In the state of Victoria, Australia, the speeding laws are ridiculous. You can be given a fine of around $150 for travelling 103-105km/h in a 100km/h zone. This is despite the fact that according to Australian Design Rules, a car's speedometer is allowed to have a 10% inaccuracy 'alllowance'. Speed cameras are set not in actual accident blackspots, but where motorists may accidently go a few km/h over the limit - for example, at the bottom of hills or on 4-lane freeways. On some busy rural highways, the speed limit fluctuates so much that it's impossible to keep track of what the speed limit is on a given section, and consequently, a lot of people get caught out. If you look at the Victorian state budget, you can see that they EXPECT speed camera revenue to increase - which basically means that they expect their 'road safety' campaign to fail.

Now, all this is obviously revenue raising and nothing else at the expense of individual rights. But quite clearly, speeding CAN be dangerous and hazardous to other motorists if done in an extreme fashion. For example, driving through thick traffic at twice the speed limit when everyone else is driving at the speed limit. So where is the line drawn under the current system? How can we determine at what point speeding becomes dangerous to others?

(Please keep in mind that I am asking where to draw the line under the current system. I am aware that if we lived in a Laissez Faire society, roads would be privately run and therefore the private companies will set whatever speed limits they think suit the roads).

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How can we determine at what point speeding becomes dangerous to others?

You can’t. Without market prices, it is impossible to know what level of safety is optimal, given the current technology and the consequent speed vs. risk evaluation of individual drivers.

Living in rural Texas, I have the good fortune of lax enforcement – on highways, I usually drive 85/100+mph during the day/night regardless of posted speeds. Is it safe? I think so – I value my life – but I have no way to know if others share my time/risk evaluation.

Regarding socialist traffic speed calculation, (which is impossible, of course) on one hand, speeding tickets resemble market outcomes, since drivers with a high time preference are required to pay a premium for risk, as they should. On the other hand, the use of artificially low speeding laws to generate revenue is the predictable outcome of replacing markets with a monopoly.

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  • 2 weeks later...
In Germany, there is no speed limit at all on most of the Autobahns, and many people drive as fast as their cars can go. According to statistics, German roads are just as safe as roads elsewhere.

This is true, but the roads in germany are specifically designed to manage fast traffic (they are of higher quality, and it was made sure they were built as straight as possible)

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So where is the line drawn under the current system? How can we determine at what point speeding becomes dangerous to others?

The same way they do it know (minus any particular quirks because somebody paid off an official to have the speed lowered near their house). A consistent system that relates to the kind of road (how accessible, how wide, how straight & other visibility issues) with about a half dozen fairly predictable speeds would be fine.

However, your problem seems not to be the particular speed, but the penalties. We had a municipality in my neck of the woods that was forcibly dissolved by the higher authorities because it was just a corrupt speed trap, which ticketed people instantaneously for driving 1 mph over the limit the instant their tires touched New Rome. Using speed laws as a way to generate revenues is theft, plain and simple.

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This is true, but the roads in germany are specifically designed to manage fast traffic (they are of higher quality, and it was made sure they were built as straight as possible)

I think this is true for the Bundesstrassen (federal highways)--where there IS a speed limit, albeit higher than in other countries--but the Autobahns are not necessarily more designed-for-speed than superhighways elsewhere. In fact, traffic engineering in Germany is pretty "daring" in many respects; for example, the merging and exit lanes on the freeways are markedly shorter than what I have seen in the rest of Europe.

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I have long held the opinion that police should only ticket for reckless driving. Just because you are doing uunder the current speed limit doesn't mean you are driving safely. On the other hand, I have seen places where it would be safe for a semi truck to double the speed limit.

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I have long held the opinion that police should only ticket for reckless driving. Just because you are doing uunder the current speed limit doesn't mean you are driving safely. On the other hand, I have seen places where it would be safe for a semi truck to double the speed limit.

I agree 100%

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As a former police officer with the New Orleans PD in the late 60s, I can offer a point of view based on extended observations of traffic on main urban thoroughfares. From my observations, the single factor causing most auto accidents was following too closely. Next in order of accident causation was driving too fast for the prevailing conditions (heavy traffic, rain, ice, snow, etc.).

A speed limit per se, except in isolated circumstances, seems unsuited for its intended purpose (protecting against accident and injury). It would better serve the public if police officers were to concentrate on those driving faults that actually caused accidents. Speed limits, however, are easy to enforce. Other violations are more difficult to prove and consequently cause officers to spend more time in court.

A ticket book in those days contained 25 tickets. Patrol officers (those who handled calls) were expected to write at least 4 ticket books a month. Traffic officers (those who were assigned solely to traffic violations) were expected to write at least 4 books each day of duty.

At no time was the word "quota" mentioned during pre-shift roll call meetings. Nonetheless, each officer had better be regularly asking for more ticket books from the duty sergeant.

In the United States today, writing speeding tickets is generally accepted as a means of reducing traffic accidents. However, again from my perspective, it is not the ticketing of speeders that reduces accidents, but rather the increased attention level of drivers due to the acknowledged presence of police officers on the roads.

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I agree 100%

While I agree, the practical problem is that one has to define objective and non-retrospective rules.

There are dual dangers in law. One is the danger of having just the princple defined as law, and allowing judges to have a field day (witness anti-trust cases). People do not know they are committing a crime when they are doing so. The other danger is to try to define *everything* in such detail that any smart lawyer can find a loophole without violating the "letter of the law".

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Greedy Capitalist--

As far as Texas goes, Austin is okay, but head out 15 miles in any direction (Williamson, Hays, etc.) and you'll see far, far more enforcement of penalties. Having paid a good portion of my earnings from my job in high school to pave roads in Dripping Springs, it's just a heads up.

Edited: I seemed to remember that GC was in Austin (from seeing his picture on Atlasphere), if this turns out incorrect, just consider this a general warning, to TX Objectivists.

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