85th Percentile Speeding

85th percentile

Dear Mr. Walker,

Thanks for sending the “Drive to Survive” brochure produced by Maryland Department of Transportation in 1997. I see no conflict with the Drive 55 Conservation Project proposal that drivers obey posted speed limits, never exceeding 55 MPH. 

Your point that most people drive 10-20 mph over the speed limit and that therefore those obeying it actually create a hazard is also well taken, and goes right to the Mission of the Drive 55 Conservation Project, which states in part:

“Conservation is an attitude and approach to life that we are trying to cultivate and nourish with the Drive 55 Conservation Project.“

So you see we are trying to influence a NEW attitude and approach, one that seeks the most efficient use of our resources. In studying the brochure you sent I note that the maximum speed on any roadway in Maryland (except on Interstate highways or other expressways) is already 55 mph, and the maximum anywhere is 65. We are simply proposing everyone obey the existing speed limit, and since we are at war, why not try to conserve a little by backing down to 55? People like you will drive 60 to 68 anyway, so why isn’t a mile a minute fast enough for you? What about the other people using the public roadway, say someone on a bike, or, god forbid, walking? Isn’t it fair to just slow down a bit and give these fuel-conserving patriots a break? After all, more of them are killed every year than died on 9/11.  That’s right, about 5000 Americans are killed each year for the crime of walking or riding a bike, their murderers: cars and trucks. 10% or so are kids on their way to school. A few are bums or drunks that stumble into the road. Most are just folks walking or riding a bike.

You on the other hand, are ignoring that important factor as you race by in your gas guzzler. Windows up, music on, cell phone to ear, speed limits, no matter who sets them, are to be ignored unless there is a heavy enough penalty associated with such behavior. The simple fact is we can do better. 

You highlighted a line on the last page of your brochure that seems completely apropos to me. It says: “..engineers set the most appropriate speed limits on the basis of thorough engineering study and the application of sound traffic engineering principles.” 

We agree, and have to wonder why you insist on deliberately violating the existing posted speed limits by an average of 5-8 mph or more? Are you suggesting the existing posted limits are all 10-20 mph too low? Why do you object to obeying the law? This is the same sort of thinking going on in the Bush administration. You seem to think you are the exception to the rules, and since well funded expert marketing has convinced a lot of other drivers to feel the same way that justifies it, never mind what the engineers and experts say.  This is why I accuse you of being a Bush supporter, because that is how they have to think to still be in favor of leaving the criminals in office for even one more hour.