Speed Kills Myth Alive and Well in Pennsylvania

To the editor: Sadly, the speed kills myth is alive and well in Pennsylvania. A real 25-state analysis was done on NHTSA data, which showed that 1.6% of crashes are caused by excessive speed. Barely above zero, then.

Nowhere does anyone ever put into a bill that speed limits must be posted at the 85th percentile free-flowing traffic speed. This is so that the ticket industry can thrive. Set the limits too low, ticket barely above them, get municipal radar and speed cameras, then watch the money flow in. Since this is still not enough, the state now wants more LIDAR and moving radar. You can expect more crashes, safe drivers cited, and lots of erroneous tickets with poor policies.

The mentioned devices [in Tim Hennessey’s re-election announcement] flopped elsewhere and will here. The state wants money, whether from red-light cameras, speed cameras, stop-arm cameras, or municipal radar. Multiple media outlets stated that after red-light cameras were installed in Philadelphia, crashes went up, yet people still say they went down. Be careful who you listen to with traffic issues.

Maximum safety on roads occurs when we have speed limits posted to the 85th percentile free-flowing traffic speed, yellow traffic lights set to actual approach speeds with realistic perception and reaction times, and stop signs only where needed.

In the meantime, we ignore issues like distracted drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Please contact your state representative, state senator, and the governor to oppose the above in Pennsylvania and demand best-practice engineering. Tickets should also be only points, no fines or surcharges.

James Sikorski Jr., Wapwallopen, PA
PA Advocate National Motorists Association

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Robert Dredge
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Robert Dredge
January 13, 2020 1:29 pm

1. Pedestrians and bicyclists described by author as issues? Roads are for everyone…not just cars. 2. The cause of any crash is subjective and due to a number of factors, but what can’t be disputed is that a slower speed provides less feet of travel per second and more reaction time, hence a greater opportunity to avoid a crash. 3. You don’t need to worry about devices or enforcement if you simply follow the law. Chill out and slow down…life already goes fast enough.

Tom McCarey
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Tom McCarey
January 15, 2020 3:42 pm
Reply to  Robert Dredge

Slower is not safer. See Penn State’s Study
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Speed limits set only five miles per hour below engineering recommendations produce a statistically significant decrease in total, fatal and injury crashes, and property-damage-only crashes, according to a group of Penn State researchers. https://news.psu.edu/story/551574/2018/12/12/research/crashes-increase-when-speed-limits-dip-far-below-engineering

Robert Dredge
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Robert Dredge
January 15, 2020 6:26 pm
Reply to  Tom McCarey

Read the whole article. “Drivers stop paying attention”, so it is the fault of the driver. Once again, drivers not taking driving seriously, so let’s capitulate to them and just give them what they want rather than taking their privilege away for not being responsible. And we wonder why kids are the way they are today…look who they are learning from.

Ryan Wood
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Ryan Wood
January 13, 2020 3:49 pm

Exactly! If speed killed all NASCAR drivers would be dead. The only time a crash is caused by speed is if you take a corner too fast and go off the road or lose control. That is a small minority of crashes. Crashes are almost always caused by breaking another traffic law (failure to yield, failure to obey traffic control device) or impairment, distraction, or a genuine mistake or inexperience. Yes, a speed can make a crash worse but if all other laws are obeyed perfectly, drivers could go as fast they wanted and crash rates would not increase.

toly arutunoff
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toly arutunoff
January 14, 2020 5:38 pm
Reply to  Ryan Wood

before the silly 55 national limit, Montana and Nevada had no speed limits. the fatalities per vehicle mile, in ’73 they ranked 24th and 25th–right in the middle of all states. and the status was followed by a footnote saying the ratings were that high because of the remoteness of the highways, leading to long times of accident discovery and distance to hospitals

Michelle
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Michelle
January 16, 2020 6:45 pm

Radar can make MANY errors and fails the Daubert Test. Pull up Radargate Revisited to see. Can’t tell which car made the reading, either. Absurdly low speed limits, tickets at 6 mph above them. Speed limits should be set to the 85th percentile free flowing traffic speed, but they are not. This means more crashes, tickets to safe drivers, and the wrong drivers. PennDOT’s own data shows that the roads have never been safer. I do have a simple solution. Make ALL tickets only points, no fines or surcharges. See who wants radar then. In the end, money talks and… Read more »