I remember a time when “double-nickel” was the rule of the highways – 55 miles per hour. It was the rule that I believe borne the song “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar. Nowadays, it seems that speed has long since become a relic, relegated to state highways and other non-major thoroughfares.
I guess I can relate to some extent why people want to go faster. Some reasons that come to mind could include just wanting to get from point A to point B faster, they’re too cheap to fly there, so they choose to “fly” on the road instead……or any number of other reasons. I think the steady increase in the speed limit on our nation’s highways is indicative of our wanting to get somewhere in a hurry – and not really caring who we have to pass or plow over to get there.
In some ways, this can be a good thing. After all, in Europe there is the Autobahn, a road where you can go literally as fast as your heart desires. Would I ever travel it? Not on your life. I don’t have a death wish in a car – I don’t care how fast or how cool it is. In my home state of Montana for a time, they used to employ what was known as “basic rule”, which is where you could go as fast as you felt you could safely go. Needless to say, that law did not last very long, and it went back to 65mph. Later on, the limit would be raised to 75, and now 80. I guess with vehicles getting better and better fuel economy, speeds are pretty much up to the driver in most cases. I’m not sure if I feel comfortable going 80 mph to get where I’m going. I have gone 70 or 75, but I keep asking myself “where does this end?”.
The other thing to take into consideration is all of the other drivers on the road. Not everyone will be driving as fast, or as safe as you are, so of course, this all falls under “defensive driving” – where you have to be mindful of other drivers on the road. Also, if you are not going as fast as other cars, it behooves you to stay in the right-hand lane – this is for slower traffic, as the left-hand lane is generally considered to be the “passing lane”. It’s not a lane you stay in and keep all to yourself – you pass, and then you get back over to the right. Not everyone is as considerate as one would like to think though, which creates, as I’m sure you’re all aware, issues with “road rage”.
Another issue that comes up with speed and impatience is the practice of “lane splitting”, where a motorcycle rider goes down a busy road, riding the line, zooming between vehicles. This practice, while not illegal in all states, in my opinion, is reckless and dangerous. I would hate to be the person stopped in traffic, for whatever reason, had to exit the car while stopped, and while the door is open, **WHAM!!** – some poor rider has slammed headlong into the interior of my car door. On the same topic, what if someone changed lanes in traffic while the rider was not looking. That motorcycle would become part of the poor victim’s back bumper at that point.
I’m not exactly sure what motivates each and every person to travel at the speed they do, but some drivers really spook me when I’m out driving. They ride up on your rear-end so far, you would swear they are going to poke their head out in your back seat and yell at you to speed up or something. They switch lanes so fast and so frequently – often without signalling, that they seem to be jockeying for the pole position in whatever race they think they are in……….more often than not getting stopped at the very same red light that you ended up pulling up to five or ten seconds later. Oh……and just because you happen to own a sporty car that can bury the needle at 160mph or more, it does not mean you have to drive like a tool and see just how fast you can go in some vain attempt at impressing someone. Anytime I ever drive something “sporty”, I drive like I normally do, and just watch the perplexed reactions of those who pass by me or encounter me at an intersection – like they think I’m going to race them or something – or wonder why I didn’t blow through the intersection at the last possible moment. Simple……….I’d like to live to see the next day, thank you.
Be safe out there everyone, and for pete’s sake……….buckle up if you’re in a car, and wear a helmet if you’re on a motorbike. It’s just the right thing to do.