Speed – Setting Your Own Limits

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The argument has often been made that speed limits are a one-size-fits all solution to a very complicated issue. The safest speed limit for a given road includes road conditions, driver experience, traffic levels, weather, lighting, and vehicle capabilities.

While the car and the driver are the most stable over time, other factors change continuously – sometimes by only a small amount and other times by vast swings. Speed limits are set with some basic understanding of this but are rarely adjusted over time.

This begs the question: doesn’t the driver have a considerably higher amount of information on the current conditions, which includes both their ability and that of their car? So why don’t they have more leeway in deciding the maximum safe speed?

Drivers that speed can be divided into two groups. The first are responsible while the second are not. A responsible driver understands their personal limits, the limitations of their vehicle, and their current road conditions.

They pay attention and they build proper margins for error within these calculations. You are just as apt to catch them driving under speed limits as you are to catch them over. They adapt well to changing road conditions, they really enjoy driving, and they tend to invest more in their vehicles. This article is targeted at them. Let’s call them responsible speed enthusiasts, but let’s take a quick moment and talk about irresponsible speeders.

Irresponsible Speeders

These drivers usually exceed the limit out of sheer negligence or indifference. Negligence in this case means they just aren’t generally attentive. It may be a constant state for them or they might have wild swings of focus. One minute they’re watching everything, the next they’re daydreaming out the side window.

The second type are usually rushed, or at least feel that way. They are late for a meeting again, they forgot something at home, or they just lack patience in general, and they don’t care what the speed limit is or how fast they can safely drive. These drivers are dangerous for at least some portion of the time that they’re on the road. They are the reason that speed laws are in place and with good reason. Unfortunately, there is only one set of rules in place and a driver’s license is grade of pass/fail, not A through F.

Responsible Speed Enthusiasts

So for the responsible speed enthusiasts, what are you to do? Police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and government vehicles are all allowed to exceed speed limits. The argument can be made that off duty police officers and their friends also enjoy more lax enforcement of traffic laws. The answer is that it’s up to each driver if they choose to speed. They can simply pay the tickets that will invariably happen or they can try to avoid them.

If you’ve decided that avoiding tickets is the route for you, then a radar detector is a must have. They come in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll want to do some research. In the remainder of this article we’ll cover some of the basics to help you narrow down your options.

Types of Radar Detectors

The first question you should ask yourself is whether you want a portable radar detector or one that is installed. Portable detectors are designed to be moved easily. They generally plug into your car’s cigarette lighter (avoid battery powered if you can) and then attach to the dashboard, windshield, or visor with a temporary bracket.

They also are higher visibility, so you might find yourself trying to stuff it in the glove box during a traffic stop or in a seedy parking lot. The biggest advantage is that they can be moved from car to car. If you are a collector or frequently change vehicles, this might be best.

Installed detectors more closely resemble your car stereo. There are no external wires and they fit nicely in the dashboard. This form factor will not block your view or stand out to others, and can also allow other sensors to be installed, making them even more effective.

Companies that build these types of detectors will maintain a list of installation locations on their website, which is a great place to start if you are considering this. Installed detectors are the way to go if you keep the same car and prefer a cleaner look to your interior.

If you’re wondering what type of sensors can be added, the most common is laser shifters. Currently, there are two main types of speed detection in police cars. The first is radar, which sends radio waves at cars to determine speed. Radio waves have a wider spread and need to remain on longer for accurate readings, so they are easier to detect.

Laser units, or lidar, use infrared light in small, focused beams. They are harder to detect, although it is possible. As an added protection, some drivers will opt for a laser shifter. This is a small panel installed in the grill area of the vehicle that makes it much more difficult, if not impossible, to get a reading on speed.

If you choose to speed, you are ultimately responsible for both the penalties and keeping current with the law. But our readers usually want the responsibility to make their own decisions and by extension are willing to face the consequences. Stay safe out there and happy driving!