Almost there...

Friday, June 08, 2001

Driving home last night from Morris practice I managed to pick up a speeding ticket. Doh. I hate that. Now, it's been over three years since I've had one, so there's no problem with going to traffic school. The thing that irks me about it is that I was cruising along at about 70 thinking nothing of it because that's how fast the traffic around me was travelling. It turns out that this stretch of road was 55 for some reason. Unfortunately, it looks like any other stretch of freeway and isn't near the center of anything that would make the speed limit clearly lower (like in San Francisco where it's totally understandable since the lanes are narrower and there's always traffic) and the signs that post speed limits are fairly inconspicuous. Not only that, but they don't tell you how long the road is going to be an adjusted speed limit. When I got my license renewed last month, I picked up and read the current driver handbook. Sure enough, if a freeway isn't posted otherwise, the default speed limit is 65. Great, but how are you supposed to know the difference if it isn't 65? On rural highways when the speed limit changes, there's a sign that says Xmph speed zone ahead. Then there's the speed limit sign. And then there's the End Xmph zone sign. Not around here. Anyway, it just seems like it would make things a lot clearer for everyone if there was a series of signs that told you that these zone was a weird speed zone and how long it was going to last.

My second complaint about this has to do with the prevailing speed of traffic. When I got back on the highway after signing my ticket, I tried driving the 55 mile an hour speed limit (which I never did see posted anywhere). Within two minutes I had been nearly run over by two different people, one of which swerved around me, then roared up to scream through his window and flip me off. All because I was doing the speed limit. There's a huge disconnect between the "law" and the actual behavior on the road. So I sped up to 65 and tried that for a while. I still had several people come roaring up on me and swerve around, including one particularly aggressive BMW driver. So, I crept back up to 70. Sure enough, that did the trick. Suddenly I was back to driving at the prevailing speed of traffic and people stopped nearly running me over. Now the only difference was that I made absolutely certain that I wasn't the fastest one on the road. So that ticket did just about no good other than to eventually cost me the price of the ticket and 8 hours of my life in traffic school. It's clearly not going to change my behavior on the road because it is ~safer~ for me to drive 70 and not risk a road rage incident. The risk of getting another ticket is small in comparison. That's happened once in three years. I see road rage every single day. So, peer pressure and negative reinforcement win the day. Oh well.


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