Harrisonburg, VA. Effective by 2011, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that the speed limit on 680 miles of Virginia interstate, including stretches of I – 64, I – 66, I – 77, I – 81, I – 85, and I – 95 will soon bear posted speed limits signs of 70 MPH. As noted, this speed limit increase will include the majority of the state’s primary north-south, infamous, and already-crowded corridor, I – 81.
Next week, he’ll probably announce that unmmarried cohabitating couples won’t face prosecution.
Gov. McDonnell is our state’s Dr. Pangloss. According to the Daily New Record, he not only proclaimed the increased speed limit “a step forward in improving Virginia’s transportation system,” he challenged Virginians’ understanding of elementary practical algebra by promising a 5 MPH speed limit increase to “help us arrive at our destinations quicker and safer….” Quicker by perhaps a minute? Should we change our church service bulletins for the morning services to begin at, say, 10:59 AM? And even the crash test dummies utilized by car manufacturers know that a increase in speed leads to an increase in injuries. Perhaps we’ll all reach our destinations more quickly due to the decreased drivers on the interstates, as our higher speeders remove themselves from both the gene pool and the roads.
Also, it would not be the first time that I’ve ever read contradictory or incongruent statements within a politician’s public announcements. Perhaps it was different inanities within the same press release that led the two different papers to emphasize different aspects of the good Governor’s distortions of reality. So, while the Daily News Record attributes the speed limit changes to part of Governor McDonnell’s “new” transportation system, the Roanoke Times reported him as characterizing it as a “safety measure.” Supposedly, increasing the speed limit to 70 MPH “will increase motorist safety by allowing traffic to move at a more consistent speed.” Both newspapers were silent on how Governor McDonnell planned to ban elderly out-of-state drivers with their automobiles stuck on 55- MPH cruise control and an innate inability to leave the right lane. We need not worry about drug and gunrunners making their weekly trek from New York to Florida. The beginners are nervous and in a hurry and will make 70 MPH look like a turtle crawl. The experienced and successful ones will set their cruise control for 75 MPH and motor on through Virginia – unless they’re pulled for “Driving While Black” or whatever the authorities call racial profiling now.
As for the Great Oz’s proclamations, they matter little. I – 81 is more crowded than most Walmart parking lots at Christmas. In the right lane are Sun Birds who couldn’t pass a driver’s license vision test in the first place and probably couldn’t even remember where they were going. They share this space with methamphetamine-addled truck drivers who are too overloaded to make it over 25 MPH going up hills and too frightened to speed over 50 MPH going down the other side on bald tires. On the left side are those of us who pretend we’re on the Autobahn and know darn well that we have to go well over 5 MPH over the speed limit to make an appreciable difference in when we arrive at our next destination. When we all top a hill and see the trooper in the crossover, it is fate, destiny, the color of our skin, or the make of our car: but you know for sure that if he popped the lights and the siren and pulled out onto the interstate he’s after somebody in general as opposed to an exact car that was positively the only one in the left lane driving 84 MPH. When we do get a ticket, we may not accept that we were actually speeding this time, but we know that we deserve it for all the other times we weren’t caught.
So, without the assurance that we’re going to be nailed each and every time we speed and correctly identified as the speeder, interstate driving habits aren’t going to change. We’re just going to mentally adjust that we don’t have to hit our breaks until we’re driving 80 MPH when we pass the trooper in the crossover.
S o u r c e s :
Hunt, Jeremy. “VA Plans to Rev Up Interstate: McDonnell: Speed Limit Increasing to 70 MPH. Daily News Record. Oct 21, 2010.
http://www.dnronline.com/details.php?AID=51483&CHID=1 (user name: email@example.com; pw: Royals 29)
Sturgeon, Jeff. “Interstate Speed Limits to Increase by Dec. 31: Excluded from the Change Will Be Stretches of Highway Across Metropolitan Areas.” Roanoke Times. Oct. 21, 2010.