I recently drove about five hours on an interstate highway in a truck with no radio. This gave me a lot of time to think, and the subject of most of this thinking was speed limits.
And what did I think when I thought about speed limits? Mostly I thought, “What’s the use?” with occasional detours into “Who do they think they’re fooling?” and one or two side trips toward “This is just ridiculous.”
Let’s face it, speed “limits” are a joke. If we were being honest about it, the best we could call them would be “suggestions,” or perhaps “requests,” although then we’d have to order bigger signs:
“If it’s not too much trouble, could you keep your speed at about 70 mph?”
Of course, we all know that 70 mph translates, in real terms, into something much faster. When the speed limit is 70, you can usually count on the traffic moving a good 10 mph faster, which means that if you do drive the speed limit, someone is (a.) going to run you over from behind, (b.) honk and give you a dirty hand signal as they whip around or (c.) report you to the cops as a traffic obstruction.
Oh, yes, the cops. Yes, I know they have the legal authority to enforce the speed limit, but I’m not so sure about the moral authority, since they’re usually zipping along well over the limit themselves. Or maybe it just seems that way because the only time anyone slows down is when they see Officer Friendly in the rear-view.
Speed limits are in place, of course, to provide us some measure of safety. I’m all for that. And frankly, I think the people – and they are out there – who see limits as an infringement on their personal freedoms are just idiots. I am, however, willing to offer them a compromise: I think they should be allowed to exercise their freedom to drive as fast as they want, provided they do it on their own private highways, and not the ones that all of us are paying for.
So there you have it. My thoughts, formed during a long drive, on interstate travel and speed limits. And I think the message is clear:
I HAVE to get a new radio.