Speed Limits – A need for Review

So here’s the problem. My bike, like most others reaches 60kms/hr with the engagement of 3rd gear and this is when one is riding fairly conservatively. I engage the remaining three gears and then ease off the throttle to bring my speed to a relatively comfortable 80kms/hr. I am in control of my bike and environment and am not a threat to traffic and pedestrians, nor are they a threat to me. The thing is, I am breaking the law! All roads accessing my property are speed restricted to 60kms/hr and our beloved traffic authorities are constantly coming up with ever more ingenious places of hiding their speed cameras. In a period of 4 months, I have four x R400.00 fines – not a pleasant situation.

Now, I don’t know how many people will disagree with me but it is virtually impossible to drive a modern vehicle of any kind at 60kms/hr. Believe me, I experience learner drivers; the elderly; traffic cops; councillors; politicians and everyone in between flouting the law and exceeding this speed limit. In fact, occasionally, when one encounters a vehicles traveling at 60kms/hr, there is a stream of backed up vehicles behind the lawful driver just fit to bust with frustration. This situation leads to virtual road rage and I have seen very dangerous overtaking manoeuvres in these circumstances.

Then we have the dual-carriageways with wide lanes, such as the Blue Route and for reasons known to no-one at all, the speed limit is restricted to 100kms/hr. It is totally ridiculous!!

In my opinion, speed limits of 60km/hr should be scrapped in all areas, barring places where it makes absolute sense – i.e. around schools or in other areas of high pedestrian traffic, where in any event, speed bumps usually prevent reckless driving. 80 or 90kms an hour should be the maximum limit on urban roads and dual-carriageways should have maximum speeds set at 140kms/hr and highways linking towns should carry limits of 160kms/hr.

Let us not forget that speed restrictions were introduced into South Africa way back when, at a time when we were facing sanctions and fuel was in short supply. The limits were set to try and reduce fuel usage and not (supposedly) to collect revenue, nor to reduce accidents – this only became evident after the number of accidents did decline. Note however, that prior to the introduction of speed limits, people could travel at any speed their vehicle was capable of and there are always a number of cowboys out there.

Since the introduction of speed limits, roads (and particularly highways) have improved, motorcycles and vehicles are different machines to what they were 30 to 40 years ago, capable of handling speed and deceleration infinitely better. What has not changed are the speed limits themselves. Limits which the entire population is incapable of adhering to.

We need a shift in mind-set and we need an initiator and/or a petition to make our cause heard. Any volunteers?

Oh, and I am in favour of harsh fines for exceeding the limits, if and only if the limits make common sense. I am also in favour of the State using the funding from accumulated fines to extensively advertise in all media for vehicles to keep left and overtake on the right; for motorists to be alert to motorcyclists at all times and to indicate when changing lanes. This way, believe me more lives will be saved than trying to regulate speed.

Speed does not kill! Stupid and drunk drivers kill.