For John, BLUF: I am sure you drive at only 55 mph on Route 3, but the others not so much. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Should we be more open to adjusting speed limits?
Yesterday I was on (Massachusetts) Route 3, a limited access highway, or "freeway", for a short distance, northbound, and traffic was doing about 78 mph on a road posted for 55. Later I was heading South and traffic was doing about 65. And later than that I was northbound from I-95, again on Route 3 and traffic was back to about 78 mph.
Maybe 78 is an unsafe speed. I am sure there are statistics that show more cars in collisions and going off the road at 78 than at 55. Further, there are probably statistics showing that fatalities and serious injuries are more frequent in accidents when going 78 than going 55. Yet the drivers seem to feel comfortable at 78. Is there some sort of heuristic here that provides insight to the drivers, allowing them to feel safe at 78?
Whatever the drivers think, the Commonwealth Government believes the speed limit should be 55.
I believe the Department of Transportation should conduct an experiment, in which it first studies current speeds on Route 3, in various sections, at various times, and then raises the speed limit to 65 mph and then again studies current speeds in various sections, at various times. I am guessing the speeds observed will be lower, making the road, I would think, safer.
While there is often a lot of loose talk about how dumb the public is, in some ways they are pretty smart and are able to judge for themselves what is safe and unsafe. In the case of Route 3, I believe we should let the public be part of the decision.
Regards — Cliff