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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:58 am Reply with quote Back to top

Popular belief Texas defensive driving style seems to be just that - Speed kills! With the meaning - higher than speed limit speed kills. And the popular remedy to road dangers is - Slow down stupid! That's how many homegrown defensive driving classes have it. However, most experts in the field and almost anybody who takes time to seriously think about the issue come to the conclusion that speed per se is not the cause of deadly accidents, i.e. speed does not kill.

How this could be possible? And who is right? Since I did some serious thinking about driving, I came to the conclusion that speed does not kill. Now you are going to prove me wrong with all the examples of horrible high-speed crashes, right? But wait, I can tell you that yes, speed sort of does kill, too.

Isn't it a paradox? How is it possible? Aren't I crazy making two conflicting statements in just one paragraph? Not really. It all depends on perspective. Let me give you an analogy to illustrate the point. If someone shoots somebody, who/what kills in this case? Bullet? Gun? The person who pulled the trigger?

One can argue any of those answers are true. However, two entities stand out - the bullet and the killer. The bullet does the actual job of killing - breaks the bones, destroys the veins, muscles, organs, and brain cells. The killer prepares and executes the murder by pulling the trigger. His decisions are the root cause of the murder.

And the law recognizes this in every jurisdiction on the planet Earth - nobody prosecutes bullets, prosecution is geared towards murderers. And what is the role of the gun? Hmmm - a middleman! Can we say that gun kills? Sort of. It has its role in the process, no doubt, but this role is far from decisive.

Now let's look at the car accident. What kills you, what is doing the actual job of killing? Surprisingly, in most cases it is your beloved car! Its parts crash your bones and tear your flesh. Can we say car kills? Yes, to the same extent that we can say bullet kills, kitchen knife kills, axe kills, and baseball bat kills... This does not help us a tiny bit in reducing the murder rate or the accident death rate, however.

Why? Because this does not address the root of the problem - what caused the car to kill you? If you follow my logic, you should not have any trouble answering this question - driver's decisions do. And what is the role of speed? To be a middleman, exactly as a gun! Can we reduce the accident death rate targeting a middleman? I really doubt.


Last edited by Misha on Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:42 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Pavlo
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Joined: Nov 15, 2006
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 11:34 am Reply with quote Back to top

Amen to that. Speed doesn't kill, stupidity does.
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Alan
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Joined: May 06, 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 11:07 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Of course "speed is a factor" in every crash. You simply can't have one otherwise. But that doesn't stop the police trying to make an absurd and arbitrary distinction in order to justify equally arbitrary speed limits applying to vastly differing vehicle and road conditions.

For these and other many other traffic enforcement myths check out *link snipped*

Cheers
Alan
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FRE
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Joined: Oct 05, 2008
Posts: 79
Location: Albuquerque NM

PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 5:50 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Of course speed itself does not kill. However, driving at an increased speed makes it more difficult to deal with unexpected circumstances and can cause an accident for that reason. That should be obvious since the distance required for the brakes to stop the car increases with the square of the velocity. And, I assume that we would agree that one should not drive so fast that one cannot stop in the distance that one can see to be clear ahead.

If an accident does occur, one is more likely to be hurt or killed at higher speeds, or to hurt or kill someone else.

There are Australian statistics which show exactly how driving above the speed limit increases the risk of having an accident. However, I have not been able to determine how the statistics were calculated, so I don't know whether they are accurate.
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:38 am Reply with quote Back to top

Sure, this is your job as a driver to choose the speed that fits the current circumstances.

As for statistics - it's a very complicated matter. In your case it is probable that stats really shows correlation. But if you give it a thought, you will see that correlation is between the likelihood of accident and a speed difference with a prevailing traffic speed, not a speed limit. And if you drive slower than the traffic around, you increase your risk pretty much in the same proportion.
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FRE
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:51 pm Reply with quote Back to top

It is often true that driving at a speed different from the prevailing speed is more dangerous than driving at the prevailing speed, even if the prevailing speed is above the legal speed limit. That has been recognized for decades. However, much of the material written on safe driving is written more from a law enforcement perspective than from a safety perspective. That explains why driving manuals assert that one should not ever exceed the speed limit and why they neglect to point out the risks of driving more slowly than the prevailing speed. On the other hand, on multi-lane roads with very light traffic, driving at less than the prevailing speed probably does not increase the risk of causing an accident.

On a similar note, most driving manuals insist that one must never exceed the speed limit while passing. However, if one considers how much more time one must spend on the wrong side of the road while passing if one does not somewhat exceed the speed limit, it seems clear that it would be safer to exceed the speed limit briefly to complete the pass more quickly. These same manuals state that one should not pass unless the car in front is driving considerably less than the speed limit. But if one does not pass a car that is going less than the speed limit and as a result cars are continually passing multiple cars, it would seem safer to pass to avoid being put at risk by being continually passed.
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Misha
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:48 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I am totally with you on that. Smile

And recommendation to not exceed speed limit when passing is a total bullshit, and god knows how many lives it claimed. Evil or Very Mad
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FRE
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Location: Albuquerque NM

PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:12 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I wonder whether it acutally claims any lives. It might if people actually followed it but it's my guess that almost no one would actually follow it.

My first new car was a 1994 Volkswagen with 40 HP and a top speed of 72 mph, which it seemed to take forever to reach. It left me feeling like a sitting duck.
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FRE
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:13 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Sorry, I meant 1964 Volkswagen, not 1994.
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Misha
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:19 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I think it does. I personally saw more than one person staying within speed limit when passing, and talked to many who think this is a right thing to do...

As for the feeling like a sitting duck - I had pretty much the same experience on my Jawa back in 70s Smile
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SeanROV
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Joined: Oct 19, 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:42 pm Reply with quote Back to top

If speed killed, Man as a species would still be walking!

Speed can be contributing factor,

But you've all missed the most important point:

SAFE SPEED is not determined by a number on a sign at the side of the road.

Regardless of the speed being traveled at it will only ever be safe if:

YOU CAN "STOP" WITHOUT HITTING ANYTHING.

Often even the posted speed limit can well exceed a safe speed (given conditions at the time),

But given (where I live) most speed limits were imposed as far back as the 1970's,

Modern cars can travel safely at speeds that are greater than the posted limit (within reason).

It takes more than blindly following road rules to make a safe driver.

"Rapid deceleration trauma" will kill you, and it only happens once...
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:59 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Welcome to Fun and Safe Driving SeanROV Smile

If you read more of what is posted on this site, I think you will find out that we are actually pretty much on the same page on those issues Smile
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SeanROV
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Joined: Oct 19, 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:16 am Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks Misha,

Have only just found this site and look forward to getting into it and exploring many other discussion threads.

Smile
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Oliver21
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Joined: Dec 07, 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:22 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Tiredness, drunk driving and wrecklessness kill. You can drive fast without being any of those things and be perfectly safe. Within reason ofcourse. Good post!
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:37 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Well, yeah, in a sense. I would divide them though, and agree on recklessness, or I would rather say ignorance being the root cause of the vast majority of accidents.

While tiredness and being drunk are not the causes of accidents per se. They no doubt can contribute if you don't know how to deal with them - but this is ignorance once again Smile

If you know how to account for being drunk or tired, and trained yourself to do this, you are as good as when you are fresh and sober...
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