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Setting the Speed Limit

The best way to increase roadway safety may be to watch the numbers.

For years, traffic control engineers have known about the 85 th Percentile Rule , which states that 85 percent of drivers are "good" drivers who operate their vehicles at a safe and reasonable speed. According to this theory, the speed limit for a given stretch of road should be set at the speed most drivers travel, as opposed to what a government bureaucrat says the speed limit should be.

A recent example is the increased speed limits on highways. That change had almost nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with politics.

The speed limit on IH-115 is a good example. On the California side, the speed limit for truckers is 55 MPH. Directly across the border in Nevada, the speed limit is 75 mph. There is really no safety-related reason for the change. It's the same road on the same terrain with the same traffic conditions.

An engineering based method for determining the speed, based on traffic conditions and not politics, would make much more sense. But as long as the system encouraged officers in Mojave to write tickets for motorists coming in from Nevada at a high speed, the system probably will not change.

An attorney practicing in Lamont or Shafter may not be able to change the system, but a lawyer can advocate for you in court and probably get you a much better result that you could have obtained on your own.