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      09-18-2013, 04:21 PM   #29
vitriol
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Excellent video. Thanks for posting.

I'm not sure about anywhere else, but in California, speed limits are supposed to be based on empirical data that suggest what the most appropriate speed is. Any posted speed limit must be backed up by an engineering survey, which examines, among other things, the average speed at which traffic normally flows, regardless of the posted speed limit. Generally the posted speed limit should equal the 85th percentile of observed normal traffic speeds.

In other words, speed limits aren't supposed to be arbitrary; they should be based on the actual speed at which traffic tends to flow. Sadly that fact is often ignored by the courts and law enforcement agencies.

The law here also mandates that speeding tickets issued for exceeding the posted limit must be thrown out if a valid engineering study cannot be produced. Additionally, if a person requests a copy of the engineering study and is not given it within a certain period, his case must be dismissed. In Los Angeles county, the courts routinely ignore these rules, and it's necessary to make multiple appearances in court to argue one's case. And that assumes these rules are widely known, which they are not. It's a time-consuming, confusing, frustrating and intimidating process. So most people just end up paying the ticket, when legally they should not.

This is a long way of saying that the entire system is engineered to make it easy to get nabbed for speeding, and exceedingly difficult to defend one's self against the charge. Why? As the video points out, it's a massive source of revenue for local and state governments. We should all be alarmed when the government sets aside good public policy in favor of revenue collection.

Yes, excessive speed can be gravely dangerous, particularly when combined with other factors (like drinking, erratic driving, poor road conditions, etc). But posted speed limits -- at least in Calif., and apparently in BC too -- have little to do with safety.

Campaigns like the one espoused by this video -- in which a large-enough group of citizens make their voices heard -- do work. In the city of Los Angeles, "red light" cameras were once to be found everywhere. Setting aside the question of whether running red lights is dangerous, the problem with these cameras is that nearly all the revenue generated went to private companies that own the cameras! Thanks to websites like www.highwayrobbery.net, and the man who runs it, enough people in LA became outraged enough that the cameras were outlawed and decommissioned.

Anyway. Great video on an important topic.
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