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Why do roads have speed limits?

You might think that speed limits are set based on what is considered to be the safest driving speed and you would be right. What you probably don't know is that the speed limit is set based on how fast drivers are driving, not the other way around. In fact the speed at which drivers are driving is typically not driven by the posted speed limit.

An individual's driving speed is usually set by their personal comfort factor; at what speed does the driver feel safe. Actual speed limits are set by road surveys that measure how fast drivers are actually driving; that's right, the speed at which drivers are actually going. The speed limit is typically set at the speed where 85% of the drivers are driving.

This is considered the safe speed. With the traffic all moving, naturally, at this speed the road is safest. People driving significantly slower than this create an impediment. Drivers going significantly faster than this create a hazard. Since drivers are going to drive at the safe comfort level, it makes more sense to set the speed of the naturally occurring traffic, rather than try to slow down or speed up the drivers.

Speeding tickets are issued to those driving too slow and to those driving too fast. These are the drivers that are creating hazardous road conditions, not because the speed they are driving is inherently dangerous but because the speed they are driving is hazardous given the behavior of the other drivers on the road! If you are in a hurry and you are speeding but feel comfortable with your abilities to do that, remember that the hazardous condition you may be creating is not necessarily because of your lack of ability to deal with the speed but OTHER drivers ability to deal with your speed.

Scott Lawrence is here to help you with your Seattle speeding ticket. We can help you keep the infraction off your driving record. Remember, thought, that driving the limit makes it safer for everyone.

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