[thechat] Speed limits in USA

Luther, Ron ron.luther at hp.com
Wed Aug 11 10:02:03 CDT 2004

Madhu Menon asked:

>>Is there no place [in the US] like the Autobahn over there where you 
>>could take your sports car out for a good ol' ride?

Hi Madhu,

I think there are fewer than there used to be. IIRC the speed limit on 
the Indiana Interstate used to be "Safe and Reasonable" back when I was 
a kid. That was what was printed on the signs ... no numbers were given.

A lot of those rural roads, (like in Ohio), actually *do* have speed 
limits. They aren't posted so it actually takes a heck of a lot of 
research and persistence to find out what they actually are ... and 
pretty much nobody (except rallyemasters) bothers to find out what 
they are.

Gee. Nobody mentioned the "85th percentile"???  The US used to set speed 
limits by doing a traffic study ... they would measure the speed of 
each passing motorist for some period of time ... then they would set 
the 'speed limit' at the 85th percentile.  [I thought this was a pretty 
reasonable practice. The would redo the studies and reset the limits 
every couple of years or so. Unfortunately, however, things eventually 
got 'political' and went to H E double toothpicks!]

Where I learned to drive, (rural Northern Minnesota), there were no paved 
roads, no traffic lights, and no stop signs.  The nearest cop was 
more than 100 miles away. So I learned to drive, (and a little about 
four-wheel-drifting), on dirt roads at 100MPH+.  Hmmm ... that might 
explain something about the way I drive today!  ;-)

Today (Legal Best Bets):
You might take a look at the Montana Interstate.  In 1998 and up until 
June 1999 there were no daytime speed limits and no enforceable speed 
laws. (There may still be some stretchs like that in Montana today.)

I would also take a look at Nevada. I seem to remember cops passing me 
without a second glance while I was doing about 100 on one of the 
main roads outside of Vegas.

Another course of action is to join a car club.  A buddy of mine, (then 
president of the Cleveland Pontiac Trans-Am car club), told me about 
taking his absolutely gorgeous late '70s Trans-Am up to 145MPH zipping 
around Michigan International Speedway as part of a club outing. Sounded 
like great fun!

Today (Other Best Bets):
First of all, there *is* a difference between a posted limit and going 
with the flow of traffic. There are a number of places and times around 
Houston where doing 75MPH will leave you feeling like a rock in a stream 
... cuz everybody else is gonna pass you on both sides. Personally I 
feel a lot safer staying with the flow of traffic and not worrying about 
the numbers.

Finally, not that I would know ... and the F355 Spyder owner I was 
talking to last Saturday certainly didn't say anything about it ... 
(I just wanted to throw that in here) but here is my understanding 
of how things are _really_ done today:

I believe they are called 'suicide runners' ... Half a dozen cars head 
out on the Interstate at 2am or so. Each equipped with a radio.  They 
all go the legal limit and space themselves at 2 mile intervals.  When 
the coast is clear they give the signal (and the left lane) to the last 
car in line who ... uh ... accelerates briskly ... for the next 10 miles 
or so.  Then it's the next driver in line's turn.

My understanding is that this is where you typically find the enthusiast 
drivers of the Calloway Vettes, the Maranellos, the Countachs, the 
Murcielagos ...

(Who never gets invited to fun stuff like that. <pout /> Then again, 
I don't drive a car like that. <double pout />)

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