VIDEO - Why Are Cars Made to go That Fast?

Speed DemonThis week on Twitter the question was posed about why we have cars that are capable of traveling at speeds significantly in excess of our posted speed limits? As luck would have it, one of the mailing lists that I subscribe to contained an article with a link to this video:

In the context of less traffic on our highways during the COVID-19 pandemic and reports of an increase in significant speeding and stunt driving events, the panel examines why we speed and what we can do about it.

Dr. Leon James has studied the psychology of driving for many years and suggests that

...speed is something that has a very positive value in our society and if you look at car commercials, you can see the emphasis placed on going fast. So - in a lot of movies and lyric songs, children are exposed to that. So it is the fact that we are culturally trained to have this relationship with speeding. And, of course, it's a traffic safety problem as well.

Perhaps this is the short answer, cars go fast because that is what we want and the regulators are unwilling to step in and change that. There has been some steps in this direction however, as the province of Ontario requires heavy trucks to have speed limiters that prevent them from being driven faster than 105 km/h.


Interesting video. Has it

Interesting video.

Has it ever occurred to any of these supporters of restricting vehicles to 10kph that maybe just maybe they should look at driver training?

There was a program called Canada's Worst Driver, I'm sure some of it had to be staged yet you can't get away from the simple fact how did these people ever get a licence in the first place? People shouldn't be learning to drive after they get their licence. One problem I see is the driver training vehicle is usually some small front wheel drive yet when the person gets their licence they will be driving a full size SUV or pick-up. No comparison.

Most of B.C. (September 2020) has a blanket of smoke over it. Locally I saw where for a couple of hours the other day visibility was down to 1K, during the entire day never got over 2K. Many vehicles were only using DRL even though if you had automatic headlights they turned all lights on. I'm sure many of these drivers considered themselves safety conscious and never exceeded the speed limit. In fact, they are the ones screaming to have more speed enforcement. Even our local police were only running with DRL except for one vehicle who had the DRL deactivated, so no lights period.

I would much prefer to meet someone or be over taken by a driver that had all their lights on driving over the speed limit than those that are so unconscious of what is going around them that they don't even think to turn on their lights under those conditions. Having your vehicle visible is far more important to me than obeying the speed limit.

I have a friend that points how many times he has a driver fly by him above the limit then later passes again. Now this is on a long trip of several hours. We never know why they stopped but I mentioned one time that if you had been driving non stop for several hours, and I really wish I could remember the number of hours, that your reaction time is that of a person above the legal limit of impaired driving. Which would you prefer? A driver that exceeds the legal limit but stops every couple of hours or a person that drives non stop and has a reduced reaction time to one that is impaired? I'll take the speeder any day.

As I have said many times before if you had the same safety inspectors in your factory for a 100 years and they had been telling you that all you had to do was eliminate this one activity yet you saw little reduction in your accident rate and they enforced little else maybe you would change companies. Final thought on this diatribe how competent is your enforcement agency when they don't recognize that turning your lights on in poor visibility is a major safety issue? Or sneaking around with no lights when the vehicles with automatic lights are completely illuminated? Do they actually recognise dangerous driving when they see it?

Vehicles must exceed expectations

Perhaps this is the short answer, cars go fast because that is what we want and the regulators are unwilling to step in and change that.

Or maybe the regulators have thought things through properly.

One thing you learn when you've been driving as long as I have, on a vast number of different vehicles, is that they actually do get better in most respects. Better brakes, better tires, better suspension, better motors. Hell, I remember driving one of the first Toyota Previa minivans (it was almost brand new) with a full passenger load from Duncan to the Nanaimo ferry - that thing was freaking dangerous, both the motor and brakes were inadequate for the task it was designed for. Subsequent versions had better brakes, and better motors. It made them safer, you see.

Ever ride on a passenger jet? Sure, we all have. Do you know what they do, when they head down the runway? They get to V1 speed (that means that theoretically, it could now fly) and then they go even faster! It's true! It's done for safety reasons!! When they get to V2 (which means it's gotta fly now, because you can't stop it no more in the space available) is when they lift off.

Is that there jet at it's limits? Hell no! It's got so much power that, say it's a 747 with four engines, one of the engines could suddenly now quit, and the pilot would still be able to fly that thing out of there. (That pilot and airplane must also be able to execute some remarkably challenging turning and rolling maneuvers which would really shake up the passengers and other crew members if they ever demonstrated these skills on a fully loaded flight!)

OK, so this may seem like a weird analogy. But it's the same thing with trains and planes and automobiles; they're safer because they're designed to exceed the design requirements, in every respect. Be thankful that this is how they are designed.

Meanwhile, it has to be realized that local speed limits will vary. At one time, there was no daytime limit in Montana, and it was a pleasure to zip along quickly enough to cover a distance of 100 miles (162 km) in an hour in my BC vehicle. Yes, I did that. No, I didn't die. The fact is, highway police in both Canada and the US frequently exceed the speed limit tremendously (chasing speeders more often than not, so you have to appreciate the irony), and they don't die as a consequence of this, either.

Meanwhile, what if you own a vehicle in Europe? There are sections of the autobahn or the autostrada where no speed limits apply. (Incidentally, if their authorities ever determined that having no speed limits was a root cause of crashes, they would reduce those limits.) But while some road-legal super-cars can actually exceed 200 mph, it's typical for the manufacturers of the sports/luxury class will have limiters on their cars, to ensure they can't exceed 155 mph. That's 249 km/h in metric. More than double the maximum permitted over here.

Cars are manufactured around the world, and sold in many markets. Specifications demand certain minimum standards be met in different countries. But cars are operated by human beings. And anyone who thinks that the world will suddenly become a safe and happy place by imposing speed restrictions on the vehicles - rather than focusing on the overall driver behaviour (including failing to signal, or following too closely) really has no business in this discussion.

It will be a cold day in hell when I surrender how I drive, to the mindless thing I'm driving.


Note to James O: I get what you're saying, and for sure I've never, ever, witnessed the police pulling someone over for failing to use their lights properly, but do you have to try and derail every thread subject here, with your obsession on this subject?

We surely both realize that it's drivers, rather than vehicles, that make our roads safer, and that's the point here.


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