The need for speed
Proposal to raise speed limit is misguided, illogical
Published: Sunday, October 27, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 27, 2013 18:10
Assemblyman Louis Sepulveda, a freshman Democratic lawmaker from the 87th district, introduced new legislation in Albany last week. He wants to raise the maximum speed limit in the state from 65 mph to 75 mph.
This is a bad idea.
There are 16 other states in the United States with 75 mph speed limits – most of them are in the West, with the exception of Maine – but it is a foolhardy idea. And there is a reason that those states are in the minority.
In 2012, there were 33,780 highway fatalities, according to NBC News.
Why, when there has just recently been such an excessive number of deaths on highways, would we want to make an already dangerous system even more dangerous?
Sure, there are many people who get ticketed frivolously from cops desperate to put the hammer on any civilian who comes their way. Some people get ticketed for going 71 mph in a 65 mph zone – when every other car on the road is going around the same speed – and many New Yorkers are fed up with cops ruining their day every chance they get. But no policy should put the sake of relieving financial burden of its people before the sake of saving lives.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a collision at 75 mph could do more damage than one at 65 mph.
And people go a little over the limit no matter what. It is standard practice to go five mph above the designated limit. So if the limit is 65 mph, most people are going around 70 mph. If you raise the maximum limit to 75 mph, in those zones where the limit is that high, people will begin driving around 80 mph, which would make the highway a much more dangerous place to drive.
The bill that Sepulveda has introduced would allow each county to set its own limit, but certainly some would take advantage of the increased maximum level. Even more certain in this bill’s destiny is intense opposition to be mounted from safety organizations.
As it should – data has long concluded that the higher the speed on highways, the more traffic deaths that ensue, according to The Buffalo News. It is pure logic that deduces such an inference and the stats back it up, too.
This bill should not see passage in Albany.
There is not a single Senate sponsor associated with this bill yet and this is a good portent – it is unlikely to receive much support in the legislature.
Some proponents of the bill and the notion that the speed limit should be increased to 75 mph suggest that people drive that fast anyway. Well, this is somewhat true. But what these individuals forget is that people drive that fast because the limit is set at or around 65 mph.
Put the limit at 75 mph and expect the speed at which many people drive to increase beyond that set limit.
If Sepulveda’s proposal were to gain any traction, it would be a very precarious indicator of the state of legislative process in Albany; there is no data or argument for it that is grounded in improving people’s lives.
The bill is more probable to end lives than it is to make them better.
As this bill is considered during the coming session, it should be categorically rejected by the legislature at large. Increasing the buffer speed limit is an increase on the amount of danger on the road.
And this is never good policy.
Sepulveda may want to consider that it will be hard to retain more votes for himself if his constituents die on the highways before the next election – which is more likely to happen if this bill is passed.