The driver who gets real pleasure out of motoring, wants to get where he is going with the least amount of worry and trouble. His maximum speed is that speed, within legal limits, at which he is sure he can stop his car under existing road, weather, and traffic conditions before striking a person or running into something. He doesn’t want to have to worry about getting out of tight places or about causing a collision or smashup. He knows that the distance required to bring his car to a dead stop varies with the speed at which he travels. This includes reaction distance—the distance he travels from the time he decides to stop until he gets his foot down on the brake. It also includes braking distance—the distance he travels while his brakes are bringing his car to a stop.
How Quickly Can You Stop?
Stopping Distances Including Thinking Time on Dry Pavement
|Speed||Distance Traveled While Reacting||Slowing Distance||Total Stopping Distance|
Although it is true that the faster you go the harder you hit, speed isn’t the big traffic killer. Four out of five fatal traffic accidents occur at speeds less than 60 mph. More than half of fatal traffic accidents in urban areas happen at speeds under 30 mph.
But relative speed, speed in relation to driving conditions—that’s another matter! An accident at any speed level involves excessive speed. Basically, the accident is caused by surprise or misjudgment.
A speed of 80 mph can be excessive. So can 30 mph. The skill of safe driving is to know when to be the tortoise or the hare. Should safe drivers have to be told to cut their speed when conditions warrant such action? Shouldn’t the motorist realize that speed must be related to driving conditions? While driving at 65 mph may be relatively safe on some occasions, 30 mph might be extremely dangerous in other circumstances.
Most of us know the control factor lies in one word—adjustment. With good drivers (safe drivers) this is a must. This brings up a question asked over and over again. What is a safe speed? Is there such a thing as a safe speed?
At zero speeds all cars on the road stand still. Nobody runs into anybody, and there are no traffic accidents. Of course, nobody gets anywhere either. But as soon as cars begin to move, even at speeds of one mile per hour, somebody can run into someone else, another car, a person, or an object.
A vehicle moving only fast enough to barely rotate the wheels can dent a fender, bend a grille, or crush a child to death. The potential of property damage, personal injury and death is there. As speeds increase, the accident potential also increases.
So, there’s no absolutely safe speed above zero speed, now is there? There are only relatively safe speeds. Speed is a ruler, not a rule.
The real speed trap is failure to adjust speed to conditions, and the real speed limit is an invisible one.