Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ottawa Traffic (part 8)

The heat is on, oh it's on the street; well at least that's the word from the OPP. It seems speeders are now officially public enemy #1. It nice to know we're #1 on somebody's list but truth be told, in this case I'd rather remain under the OPP's radar, so to speak.

It seems that stats for the past few years have shown a pretty strong relationship between major injuries and people traveling at high rates of speed. I really hope they didn't spend good money putting that report together when the Department of Stating the Obvious could have produced the same thing in an afternoon for mere peanuts.

I really can't put up an argument that speed is not a factor to the severity of injuries in traffic accidents, that's just plain common sense, but what I would like to put forward is that in many of these cases it was not speed, but the reckless driving of the people involved, that caused the accident to occur in the first place. Just the other day Rat and I were driving down the Queensway and drove by the scene of what was a somewhat major accident involving a single motorcycle. From the radio we were able to learn that the driver had been speeding down the highway and had lost control. However it appears the key contributing factor to the accident was not the speed at which he was traveling but the fact he was ducking and weaving through traffic in order to maintain that speed. If he had been traveling at above the posted limit but in a straight line it would have been very doubtful that any accident would have occurred.

That being said I still do believe there is a certain safe limit that can be traveled on any road or highway but it generally has little to do with the posted legal limit; it's primarily based on the flow of traffic. As long as a single vehicle does not exceed the rate of the flow by more than a few kilometers then everything should be ok. In cases like the Queensway where you have multiple lanes, that could lead to drastic variances from the extreme left to the extreme right lanes but the key is that the difference between any two adjoining lanes remains within a 10-20KM/H range. That should be more than enough to allow for people to safely and easily change lanes with lots of time to accelerate or slow down to match their target lanes speed. If you are unable to do that then maybe you should be sticking to the surface streets.

That leads to my cardinal rule of lane changing, when moving between two lanes traveling at different rates of speed, it is your responsibility to match the speed of the lane into which you are moving, it is not the job of the other occupants of that lane to adjust to match your speed. If you don't think you can get up to their speed quickly enough than I'm sorry, but your just stuck where you are. Next time buy a better car.

And speaking of surface streets, that leads to the second major determination of what is or isn't a safe speed, the surrounding structures. On a highway where access is limited and there aren't any buildings blocking the view ahead than flow is far and away the best indicator for speed, but off the highways you have to be very mindful of your surroundings. If you are driving through an industrial park with nothing but offices on one side and an empty field on the other than perhaps 80 is not such a bad speed to be doing, but put that same car in a residential area with houses just a few feet from the curbs and the threat of stupid children running out from every bush (I kid you not when I say just yesterday I saw a kid of at least 10 'swim' across the road on my way home, forcing 2 cars to have to slow to a crawl to allow him passage).

I guess I just want to say I really don't like the idea of being targeted just because of the actions of some of the idiots who happen to share my passion for driving fast. People just have to use some common sense and most accidents can easily be avoided. Now time for my drive home. Wish me luck.

(Part 7 and previous)

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