STUPID TO HAVE 90KPH STRETCHES ON OUR HIGHWAYS!

‘To be honest it is also stupid to place our speed custodians under bridges, trees, over overheads and down hill slopes after the area is tagged at 90KPH to catch the even slight overrun of speed!
That is not addressing speeding that is plain entrapment!’ – Dr Jacob George


STUPID TO HAVE 90KPH STRETCHES ON OUR HIGHWAYS!

As far as I am concerned, it is extremely stupid to have 90kph stretches along the North South Highway unless the particular stretch is cutting through densely populated areas of human, cows, dogs and cats!

It is also stupid to fine the maximum fine of RM300/- if one is driving just at say, 100kph in a 90kph zone!

I have no problems with the said fine if the said driver was doing 180kph because that shows a ‘men’s rea’ for speeding!

To be honest it is also stupid to place our speed custodians under bridges, trees, over overheads and down hill slopes after the area is tagged at 90KPH to catch the even slight overrun of speed!

That is not addressing speeding that is plain entrapment!

And so it is time we re-look at the speed limits after all I like other lobbyists are arguing for an increase in some speed limits to curb boredom and road rage.

And as far as I am concerned, it has been a mantra all drivers learn from the time they first slap on L-plates: the faster you go, the greater your chance of a serious crash.

The reasoning is simple. The greater your speed, the less time you have to react to a problem, the greater the braking distance required and the greater the forces involved in any collision.

But is it always this clear cut?

Really?

My foot!

Not according to pro-speed campaigners, who are agitating for governments around the country and around the world to raise speed limits, particularly in rural areas and on stretches of high-quality highway.

They passionately argue boredom and frustration, rather than speed, are the main killers when people are traveling between isolated rural communities.

With the entry of high performance cars and car safety rapidly improving, I see the need to substantially increase speed limit. Some advocate the total removal of speed limits on these types of roads as a way of reducing the road toll.

Take the case of US activist Chad Dornsife.

As the executive director of lobby group the Best Highway Safety Practices Institute, he is pushing for the removal of speed limits in his homeland on the grounds it will lower the number of high-risk overtaking moves and reduce trip time and fatigue.

He believes drivers are at their safest (suffering from less stress and impatience) when they are in their comfort zone.

Like many pro-speed campaigners, he points to Germany’s often speed-limit-free autobahns as a shining example, saying they have recently recorded an all-time-low death toll due to their “emphasis on flow management rather than speed limits”.

I agree, having driven on the autobahns that they are a successful model, which has become a political embarrassment for every other EU country and also Malaysia!

Then let us look at Australia, where another lobby group the National Motorists Association of Australia (NMAA) has called for higher limits on appropriate stretches of road as a way of lowering fatalities.

The debate over speed limits has also recently been put into focus by comments by NRMA Motoring & Services on plans to lower the speed limit on the NSW section of the Newell Highway. (Footnote: The NMAA and NRMA are similarly named but not linked.)

In August the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) completed a review of safety on the highway, which runs through the outback and links Victoria and Queensland via NSW. In it the authority announced plans to lower the 110km/h limit to 100km/h, citing problems with “road geometry [and] traffic volumes”.

This prompted a heated response from the NRMA, which argued in this case speed would save lives.

The president of the NRMA, Wendy Machin, said a 100km/h limit would add an hour to the travel time between the Queensland and Victorian borders.

“Fatigue is the major factor among casualties on the Newell Highway, with around 26 per cent of casualties in 2007 involving fatigue,” she said, citing the RTA’s own research. “This figure is higher than other country highways [15 per cent in 2007].”

So are there indications that a raised speed limit could save lives?

The National Motorists Association of Australia for is skeptical of the sums and favors an increase in the speed limit in some cases.

But let us have a look at two very persuasive arguments from abroad namely:

1.     The autobahn

German autobahns are often cited as a model by advocates of higher speed limits in Malaysia! And with good reason: they seem to work.

Despite having no speed limit along much of their routes, these massive roads account for 31 per cent of road travel and just 3 per cent of the road toll.

Moreover – a 2005 study by the German interior ministry found sections with unrestricted speeds had the same crash rate as sections with a variety of speed limits imposed.

But can Germany be compared with Malaysia?

I must agree that the undemanding license tests that apply in Malaysia create problems where new drivers are concerned!

It is not a ‘suka suka’ test!

It must be noted that German motorists must pass a challenging regimen that includes high-speed highway driving competence in varying weather conditions.

Perhaps comparing Malaysians and Germans is like comparing apples with oranges?

2. The Montana highway

Did you know that the US state of Montana was paradise for pro-speed advocates from the end of 1995 through to mid-1999 when there were no specific daytime speed limits. Motorists were required simply to drive at a “reasonable speed”.

The state eventually introduced a top speed of 75mph (120km/h).

A subsequent study by the US National Motorists Association revealed the safest period on Montana’s interstate highways was when there were no daytime speed limits or enforceable speed laws.

When speed limits were reintroduced, fatal crashes initially doubled, which was attributed to decreased road courtesy and a rise in “flow-conflict” crashes.

But I am certain the dinosaurs in our policymaker’s institutions and other busybodies will want to keep the speed limit down and place vital manpower resources under the trees and bridges on major billion ringgit highways to entrap motorists driving high performance cars and others over speed limits that are positioned and placed without proper comprehensive study!

How else can you explain the 90kph stretch in many parts of the country just meters away from the 110 kph zones where no humans, cows, cats and dogs live and the road is straight and safe?

Perhaps, the Ministry of Transport is expecting a UFO to suddenly land on that stretch?

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