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When speed laws come anywhere close to matching up with the natural and.safe speed to drive on a particular road, yeah, they can be regularly enforced.  The mass of drivers on any stretch of road make a pretty decent collective judgement on this point, based on the capability of their cars and the contour of the road.  But often enough, that mass judgement has little or no thing to do with the posted speed limits, and it is quite commonly well in excess of those limits,

For example, the speed limit on elevated toll highways in Japan is 80 kph, or about 50 mph.  Nobody on the road ever comes anywhere close to respecting this limit.  It's ridiculous.

Lone dude speeding along the road?  Screw them.  Everybody on the road being a criminal every day is a problem,

by Zwackus on Thu May 30th, 2013 at 09:27:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In which case, how many people disobeying a law is enough?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu May 30th, 2013 at 10:58:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The mass of drivers on any stretch of road make a pretty decent collective judgement

I disagree: masses of drivers can make the wrong judgement, too. I remember reading of court cases against driver who were involved in fatal accidents at highway construction sites where this was an issue. That is, the velocity was a factor in losing control or not recognising a danger in time, but the drivers didn't go faster than everyone else.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 08:03:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There should be special signs in place for road work, and with freeways equipped with message signs, as in Los Angeles, the speed limits could be modulated according to weather conditions. That said, the situation was so bad in Los Angeles that, during periods of light traffic, even marked police cars traveled at 75 mph, along with ~95% of the traffic. In fact the danger of precipitating an accident by traveling at 55 or 60 was probably greater than the danger of getting a ticket for going 75, as 95% were doing.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 11:18:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be that Americans, with our overbuilt roads and low population densities, feel this problem much more acutely.
by Zwackus on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 09:03:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, visibly the 80 km/h limit is absurd, and visibly they do little about enforcement because of the backlash it would generate.

They could fix this overnight. Set the limit to, say, 120 km/h (carefully modulated spatially and temporally according to objective conditions), and enforce it with speed cameras.

In France 20 years ago, roads were a jungle. These days, the limits are respected, by and large. People actually drive slower, and more safely. Rigorous, automated enforcement. 20 years ago, it was relatively easy to get a speeding fine binned, as long as you had connections. This is no longer the case.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 11:28:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, visibly the 80 km/h limit is absurd

Well, I wonder. What is the noise level for residents living next to those elevated highways at 120 km/h vs. 80 km/h? What is the frequency of accidents involving cars falling off those elevated highways? Who pays the bill for bridge column maintenance/repair?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 03:05:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Freeway noise has been a problem from the opening of the first freeway. Paul S. Venekassen, for whom I worked in the early 70s, recommended 3m(?) high sound barriers made of concrete panels. They provide an 11dB or greater reduction in Sound Pressure Level towards the start of the noise path into residential neighborhoods. By now such panels have been installed along most of the urban freeways adjacent to residential neighborhoods. If the reading were 90 dB on the freeway shoulder that would translate into 79 dB on the neighborhood side, falling away at approximately 6dB per doubling of distance. But even two or three miles away from a freeway the noise will often be audible on quiet evenings. Then there are airplanes, helicopters, ambulances and police sirens in addition to street traffic. Cities are noisy places. Part of why I moved close to the middle of nowhere, only to find I still have the occasional siren and helicopter.

There are now available commercial concrete sound blocks that have a slot opening that is to be oriented towards the source and a cavity that can be filled with absorbent material. This forms a Helmholtz resonator with a very broad Q. Were such materials used in sound barriers considerable further reductions would be possible. What is absorbed is neither  transmitted, reflected nor refracted over the barrier.    

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 06:14:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I imagine the problem is magnified for these elevated highways in Japan: sound can travel further unhindered, residential areas are everywhere and more dense than in the USA.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 06:23:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1 - that's the speed through empty countryside, as well as urban area.

2 - there are already sound walls.

3 - sound pollution is not recognized as an actionable form of damage in Japan.  Residents can go to hell as far as the road authorities are concerned.

by Zwackus on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 06:44:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The other way is to stop selling cars whose performance characteristics are far greater than the law allows one to drive them.

On American highways, in good weather and traffic conditions, its quite often perfectly safe to drive at 80 mph, sometimes even faster.  So people do, if their cars allow them.  Not all cars can.  My old Toyota Spacio felt very unsafe at much more than 65 mph or so, because it felt like it was about to roll over at any minute.

But the situation would have been much worse if I drove a K Car, or economy car.  They have legally mandated narrow wheelbases, and low maximum engine size, and they are really not supposed to drive on the highways because they just can't handle it.

If, regardless of road and weather condition, you've decided that a maximum speed of 50 is desirable for whatever public policy reason, the you can save everybody a world of agony by legally restricting the performance capabilities of cars so that 55 is about the fastest the car will go.

by Zwackus on Fri May 31st, 2013 at 09:09:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Caltrops would also slow the traffic down.

Just a thought.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jun 1st, 2013 at 08:39:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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