A new study by the Governors' Highway Safety Assocation, whatever that is, has found that police tend to allow drivers a cushion of about ten miles over the speed limit before pulling them over. (Thus confirming what everyone already knew.)
Predictably,the group's response is alarm; chairman Jim Champagne wants a crackdown. "As a country, if we are going to reduce the carnage on our roadways, speeding must be given the same level of attention that has been given to occupant protection and impaired driving," Champagne said.
As someone who commuted by car between Boston and New York for 18 months, I can attest to the fact that highways have become nerve-wracking, especially here in the congested Northeast. But the solution isn't to reduce speed limits across the board. Cops and lawmakers ought to recognize that not all cars are equally safe at the same speed—and lower the speed limit for SUVs.
We've all seen this a hundred times: the cell-phone wielding driver at the helm of a Ford Explorer or GMC Yukon barrelling down the fast lane at 80 miles an hour, riding other people's rear bumper until they're forced to switch lanes in a hurry. But if the driver of that SUV had to stop quickly, or take a sharp curve, he'd be much more likely to crash than, say, me in my Volkswagen.
What the Governors Highway Safety Association really ought to do is a study examining the prevalence of SUVs in highway accidents, and checking the incidence of highway accidents as it correlates to the growing prevalence of SUVs on American highways. That's a far bigger problem than some drivers hitting 75 on a long, straight stretch of highway.
SUVs are bigger and heavier than cars, they require more room to brake, they're harder to turn, and they reduce visibility on the road. So why do we let their owners drive them as fast as smaller, safer vehicles?