Instapundit Looks at a Couple of Glasses Half-Full

Sure, some hyperbole may lead to more funding for those engineers who have kept at it the last fifty years, making driving considerably more safe than in my youth. As we shop for a car for our youngest daughter, we are thankful for the improved rates – ones that still have a size that scares us. We all wish for better odds, better engineering. The toll remains high enough that most of us have sat at sad funerals for youngsters dead too early & families shattered; all of us have encountered scarred survivors.

And because of that sadness, we may be willing to cut the doomsayers some slack; nonetheless, we need to be honest about speed and understand the usefulness of all those divided 4 lanes. We need some perspective and in that perspective we note how unhelpful the shrillness of a few years ago was:

This may seem non-controversial now, but at the time the debate was shrill and filled with predictions of doom. Ralph Nader claimed that “history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life.” Judith Stone, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, predicted to Katie Couric on NBC’s “Today Show” that there would be “6,400 added highway fatalities a year and millions of more injuries.” Federico Pena, the Clinton Administration’s Secretary of Transportation, declared: “Allowing speed limits to rise above 55 simply means that more Americans will die and be injured on our highways.” WSJ

A similar post on Instapundit that reminds us that generalizations are often made without much regard for facts. I’ve come from yet another academic party where the evils of Bush’s tax policies were bewailed. But Kudlow notes:

These data points hardly suggest a slumping economy. Instead they reveal a low-tax, durable, resilient, and flexible American market system that easily shifts from one sector (housing) to another (business investment). It is this American economic dynamism that separates our ongoing prosperity from the overtaxed and overregulated stutter-start stagnation of industrial economies in Western Europe and Japan.

(Some debate about this on Instapundit readers.

So, the glass in both cases may not be as full as we would like – or Kudlow might imply. But if we ignore how full it really is, we may discount what got us to the much more pleasant levels of each than predicted.

3 thoughts on “Instapundit Looks at a Couple of Glasses Half-Full”

  1. Speed kills, but so do other things, and every cop out looking to keep me at 55 is one who’s not looking for drunk drivers.

    There was a Bloom County cartoon about this where Milo was heckling Opus’s support of 55 MPH. He said if 55 saved lives, wouldn’t 45 or 35 save even more? Shouldn’t we all be walking?

    I kind of like Germany’s approach to driving – at least before the EU – they used to ticket you for even a spot of rust on the car, make you keep all your equipment in working order with huge fines. That would eliminate a lot of the heaps that contribute to a lot of the bad driving I see on I-95. Approach driving seriously. Slow or fast, it’s a two-ton hunk of metal, rubber, and plastic you’re piloting. Give it some respect.

  2. Ginny,

    I read glenn’s linked and forwarded it to all my friends with the little addition below. Let me add on the subject of safety that speed does kill on surface streets, absolutely, but highways and freeways are completely different systems. Generally accidents there are due to weather or falling asleep or drunkeness in that order. Any traffic issues related to speed would more commonly be caused by slow cars, especially slow cars in faster lanes, than by fast cars in the fast lane.

    What I sent my friends. Sorry if it offends some people, but speed-traps in backwaters offend me:

    I remember when I got a speeding ticket driving to Reliant Stadium in Houston to pick up Katrina evacuees and drive them to their families. I didn’t want to keep them waiting so I was driving Cali style, not TX style (that basically means using turn-signals, not cutting people off or tailgating and only getting in the fast-lane if I’m going over 80mph.) So while I was cruising down hwy 71 thru La Grange enjoying a nice view of the swamps some fat flat-topped hick cop pulled me over.

    He asked me where I was going. I told him. When he came back with the $100+ ticket he said “if you don’t get there safe you can’t help anybody.” Now, obviously he was trying to assuage his guilt – i’m sure it’s not easy on the conscience being a pawn for “the man.” What he didn’t know is that by that comment he pissed me off so bad I almost jumped out of the car, yelled “I’m from Riverside Bitch!” and karate chopped his yokel ass. But I didn’t, cuz if I did that, I’d be late to Houston.

    But why, you ask, was I mad? Was it because the ticket cost me $100? Was it because the extra time it took? NOOOOO!!! It was because he implied that I, by not going the speed limit, was being “unsafe.” Unsafe? Says who?

    The fact is, in our modern vehicles, driving fast isn’t unsafe. Driving a modern car w/ 4 wheel disc brakes and fuel injection at 75mph is alot safer than driving a 1970’s tank with drum brakes and a dirty carbeurator at 55mph (don’t forget it, it was the 70’s when the universal 55mph was imposed, not for safety but for gas conservation!!) Most accidents and traffic jams on freeways aren’t caused by excessive speed, they are caused by excessive LACK off speed.

    There are no studies which can show a positive correlation between highway speed and accidents or fatalities. In fact, they have found that the reverse is true. That’s where the journal oped below comes in.

    Read it, memorize and next time the man tries to make himself feel better by talking about safety, don’t jump out of the car and kick his ass (you aren’t from Riverside) instead just tell him you weren’t being unsafe at all, all you did was violate a completely arbitrary law that will cost you $100+ and force you to donate more dinero to some insurance company so they can give a kick-back err… donation… to his boss’ next election.

  3. Driving faster: more time efficient, cleaner, and safer.

    [Note this is only true when the posted speeds are increased. Going above the posted speed (or below it) isn’t likely to be a any of these, the exceptions being certain freeway conditions.]

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