One day while on patrol, a police officer pulled over a car for speeding. He went up to the car and asked the driver to roll down her window. The first thing he noticed, besides the nice red sports car, was how hot the driver was! Blue eyes, blonde, the works.

"I've pulled you over for speeding, Ma'am. Could I see your drivers license?"

"What's a license???" replied the blonde, instantly giving away the fact that she was as dumb as a stump.

"It's usually in your wallet," replied the officer. After fumbling for a few minutes, the driver managed to find it. "Now may I see your registration?" asked the cop.

"Registration..... what's that....?" asked the blonde.

"It's usually in your glove compartment." said the cop impatiently. After some more fumbling, she found the registration.

"I'll be back in a minute." said the cop and walked back to his car. The officer phoned into the dispatch to run a check on the woman's license and registration. After a few moments, the dispatcher came back, "Ummm... is this woman driving a red sports car?"

"Yes." replied the officer

"Is she a drop dead gorgeous blonde?" asked the dispatcher

"Uh... yes." replied the cop.

"Here's what you do." said the dispatcher. "Give her the stuff back, and drop your pants."

"What!!? I can't do that. Its... inappropriate." exclaimed the cop.

"Trust me. Just do it." said the dispatcher.

So the cop goes back to the car, gives back the license and registration and drops his pants, just as the dispatcher said.

The blonde looks down and sighs..... "Ohh no... not another breathalyzer......"

There is a pretty common perception that speeding is nowhere near as bad as drink driving. If you get caught driving while drunk you won't get much sympathy from most people if you complain about how unfair it is that you got fined for having a high blood alcohol reading while behind the wheel. Yet it seems almost everyone has a story to tell about how they were fined "for going only 20 km/h over the limit, and there weren't even any other cars around", and it's a pretty common view that speeding tickets are just a form of revenue raising for state governments. In Sydney, there are a number of permanent speed cameras. Information about their location is freely available, and there are prominent signs warning motorists of their presence, and yet there are still a lot of people that see them as an insidious plot to raise cash and an infringement of a driver's right to go as fast as they want to.

So, it might come as a surprise to a lot of people that exceeding the speed limit by more than 5 km/h is as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of higher than 0.05%. In a 60 km/h limit area, driving at 65 km/h doubles the risk of having a serious crash (one involving a serious injury or fatality). Driving at 70 km/h increases the risk by a factor of four, and driving at 80 km/h makes you about 30 times as likely to have a serious accident than driving at 60 km/h. In terms of the increase in risk, driving 20 km/h over the speed limit is about as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.15%. If you're a guy, you can achieve this level by drinking about 9 standard drinks in an hour.

The reason speeding is so dangerous is, of course, stopping distances. No matter how good a driver you are, there are other people out on the road as well, and they can do stupid, stupid things. When they do, you need to stop suddenly. Drinking slows the reaction time, which in turn increase the time and distance the car takes to be brought to a halt. When speeding, your reaction time remains the same, but the car travels a greater distance in the time it takes to react to a situation and start to brake. Even then, once the brakes are applied the car more time and more distance to stop once the brakes are applied. This also leads to much greater impact speeds. A car travelling at 60 km/h has a stopping distance of around 25 m. For a car travelling at 70 km/h, when it passes the point at which a car travelling at 60 km/h has stopped, it is still travelling at about 45 km/h. A car originally travelling at 100 km/h will still be travelling at over 90 km/h when it passes the point at which a car originally travelling at 60 km/h would have stopped.

So, when I hear people complaining about the speeding ticket they just got, all I can think is "you should have lost your license". The chances of having an accident during any one particular trip are pretty small, but if you speed regularly then over the course of your life there's a pretty good chance that you'll be involved in a serious accident. I sure hope you don't kill anybody.

Sources:

http://raru.adelaide.edu.au/speed/contents.html

http://www.sdt.com.au/STOPPINGDISTANCE.htm

Some places in Utah and Nevada, you could drive really fast. There was nothing bigger than a stunted juniper for a state trooper to hide behind. The highway shot straight through empty valleys and looped over the barren shoulders of foothills, and a vehicle ten miles away was easily visible as a burning glimmer on the horizon. My mother had friends in Delta, in the western Utah desert around where the Feds once imagined they'd like to build a track-based nuclear missile system. That never happened, and the drive down there was usually pretty quiet and unhindered.

I was driving us back from Delta one time and went a little too fast through Eureka, which happened to be a college friend's home town. Eureka only had about 800 people, but it was the biggest thing in the Tintic Valley. Donna had been a wildly unhappy creative-writing and drama-club soul, drinker and party girl at Tintic High. Her dad was an unemployed silver miner. One year they'd lived entirely on rabbits and canned peaches.

There was very little happening in Eureka the day Mom and I came hurtling through. At the city line I stepped on the gas and took the big car up to 95 miles per hour, its heavy frame barely shivering. Before long there was an array of colored lights winking cheerfully at me in the rear-view mirror as it closed in on my tail. (No matter how far over the speed limit I'd been driving, this always seemed to amaze me.) I slowed and eventually pulled over on the crunchy gravel, savoring my last moments of freedom before the lengthy prison term I had surely just earned along with piling eternal shame on my mother.

The cop who strolled up and leaned over my window was a compact little guy with a neat mustache and comb-over and the dark blue uniform of the ... Eureka Police Department? He WAS the Eureka Police Department, and I was being ticketed for doing 45 in a 25-mph zone. He examined my license and noticed my Hebrew middle name. That was new; in some parts of Utah, people guessed I was part Indian -- hell, once someone thought part Chinese -- because I wasn't a blue-eyed blonde, and they assumed "Shoshana" was a version of "Shoshone." Mom was intrigued and struck up a conversation, and Officer Vic turned out to be from her old neighborhood in New York City. So perhaps in deference to the gods that had caused two Greenwich Villagers to collide in the Utah desert, the entire result of this incident was a discreet little fine mailed to the city clerk, but not one point on my driving record.

I ran into Donna later and she couldn't believe I'd been enough of an idiot to let Vic catch me. "He was right behind the billboard!" she shrieked. "Duh! He's always right behind the only billboard in town!"

I'm repeating my last post except in paragraphs. I now know that you need to use some html in these posts.

I've read Snailgus's piece and would like to discuss the points raised.

I agree that there is a common perception that speeding is nowhere near as bad as drink driving. Indeed that is just common sense. Beyond that I disagree.

Speeding tickets are just a form of revenue raising from state governments with minimal overlap with road safety. Indeed the enormous focus on bees dick size breaches of the limit takes away police resources from real road safety issues and compromises the road safety effort. As a loss of human life is the cost of a compromised road safety program this is outrageous.

It is not a driver's right to go as fast as they want to although in most cases people are capable of choosing an appropriate speed and don't want to go so fast that they are creating a hazard so in most cases it doesn't make a difference.

It comes as a surprise that anyone actually believes that the estimate made by RARU that exceeding the speed limit by more than 5 km/h is as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of higher than 0.05% is anything to do with reality. After all with so many people exceeding the speed limit without incident and so few drunks accounting for such a large proportion of crashes if this was true in real life the streets would be paved with blood.

They studied accident locations where cars crashed and the average speed was therefore 60 km/h (as most people slow down on dangerous roads) that were signposted at 60 km/h. They estimated that going 5 km/h above the speed limit driving at 65 km/h doubles the risk of having a serious crash (one involving a serious injury or fatality) and that driving at 70 km/h increases the risk by a factor of four.

Remember that this estimate of the risk of going 5 km/h over the limit etc. at 60 km/h was based on calculations from the sites where crashes occurred and the average speed was only 60 km/h. Peer review highlighted that measures of average speed on a typical 60 km/h roads is more likely to get a result of at least 67 km/h. If you use the calculations minus the assumption that the average speed on a 60 km/h road is 60 km/h you get the 5 km/h above average equating to 12 km/h above the limit. That is as far as the 'peers' of those researchers took it.

However, naturally all things aren't equal. Dangerous roads where everyone drives slowly are not as accomodating of faster driving as the typical 60 km/h road. Indeed a number of criticisms have been made by people who have never held positions where GovCo paid them to research 'road safety' and who are cheesed off about the revenue raising. Non-'peers' have been more scathing in their criticisms.

Official ads often try to use stopping distances as an excuse for the cash grab. They imply that there is a linear relationship between speed and crash risk that can be extrapolated from stopping distances. In reality often replicated research found as early as 1964 that there is a curvilinear relationship between speed and crashes.

Further official stopping distances have problems. If you have ever taken the time to look up a table of measured new car stopping distances you may wonder why your local Department of Transport uses distances exponentially longer while claiming that they are the distances resulting from an expert driver in a car in good condition. The reason is that the distances are created purely by estimation based on their calculations and assumptions rather than real life. They divide the stopping into distance travelled while reacting and stopping distance after reacting. The reaction times fail to take into account the increased concentration found to be associated with driving faster. More importantly however the calculations have a nasty habit of almost tripling the average reaction time of a 70 year old and adding that to a distance calculated with half the decelaration of an average new car. This combination results in rather atypical stopping distances and was also the basis of calculations used in the study that Snailgus puts so much weight on.

Despite the low risk of low level speeding offences a document recently released to the Liberal Party under Freedom of Information shows that 78 per cent of speed camera fines issued in April were where the driver was allegedly exceeding the speed limit by 10 kilometres an hour or less. Speeding tickets aren't for reckless speedsters they are aimed at people doing a safe speed for the sole purpose of raising revenue.

When I hear people complaining about the speeding ticket they just got, I am extremely sympathetic. The chances of having an accident during any one particular trip are pretty small for almost anyone, but if, like any competant driver, you are driving at a speed that matches the conditions rather that some bureaucrat had put on a sign regularly over the course of your life the chances that you'll be involved in a serious accident remain quite slim. Unfortunately however you may end up paying a fortune in revenue fines.

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