Speed limits and reality denial

City, NDOT disagree on 50A speed limit. The issue is about a 4 lane highway east of Fernley Nevada. What is known is up against denial of reality. Some want slower traffic. Those who study traffic know that people travel at what they consider a safe speed regardless of posted speed limits unless coerced by the presence of law enforcement or other artificial barriers. As in many of the situations where some face dissonance between reality and their desires, the ‘I know better than you’ syndrome crops up sans any solid basis.

Eilrich and Councilwoman Kelly Malloy disagreed with the statistics and the reliance on the 85th percentile, saying drivers go whatever speed they can get away with without getting a speeding ticket, regardless of the speed limit.

“Sometimes statistics don’t outweigh common sense,” Eilrich said. “I do not agree with your statistics.”

Garza argued that drivers who drive faster are the other 15 percent, which he defined as “unreasonable drivers.”

“We have learned to trust the 85th percentile driver,” he said. “They know what they’re doing, and they do it safely.”

Common sense is to consider who has most at stake and what actually happens. The individual driver has his life and property on the line. Investigations of traffic crashes illustrates that exceeding speed limits is way down the list of causes and then only as a contributing factor. Common sense is not a fear of what might be as those fears are often created in order to provide a rationale for a desire that doesn’t fit with what is now.

That is what you have here. Two representatives of the people think their constituents will do “whatever speed they can get away with” and that bit of hubris should cause a pause for reflection. If the goal is driving safely and there aren’t an unusual number of crashes, the conclusion is that the constituents are driving with a safety – not with a reckless what they can get away with – attitude.

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