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Slow Down Or Speed UpOne advocate says the best way to make metro Chicago tollways safer is to raise the speed limit. Perhaps his advice should also be applied to Hwy 395 running through Inyo County.

Currently, the posted speed limit is typically either 55mph or 60mph, but Steve Doner of the National Motorists Association cites evidence that most traffic travels at about 70mph on most tollways. So, there is a dangerous variance between people who are sticklers for the posted speed limit and those who drive roughly at the pace of traffic. Mr. Doner also cited an engineering study which concluded that the prevailing speed was 70mph, and 65mph was below the 50 th percentile. So, in Illinois, the lower speed limit may be illegal.

The reason for the lower speed limit may be in a separate study that predicted an 80 percent violation rate at 60mph and a 30 percent rate at 70mph.

Over 20 years ago, University of Colorado Professor Philip Graves published his landmark paper Speed Variance, Enforcement, and the Optimal Speed Limit. He theorized that the average vehicle speed on a given roadway, as opposed to a government engineering study which probably did not even include this factor, should set the speed limit on roads and highways.

Mr. Doner brought out many good points. Additionally, an artificially low speed limit deprives motorists of valuable information about road conditions - a 55mph speed limit suggests a poorly made or maintained surface. And, if there is a stretch where there is limited visibility or some other issue, motorists will not know that they should slow down for safety reasons.

Despite the merits of an optimal speed limit, the system will probably keep peace officers in Inyo County out on Hwy 395 writing speeding tickets for motorists who really do not deserve one.

For instance, on the long stretches of open road on Hwy 395 with small towns like Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine and Bishop breaking up the trip about ever 20 to 40 miles, one of the greatest dangers is falling asleep at the wheel while on a long trip back from Mammoth or Yosemite. The pavement is well maintained, the road is wide, and as long as there is no winter storms, visibility is great. The 65 MPH speed limit is well below what the normal driver would be traveling if left to drive at the safest speed in peace. The most important reason to have a speed limit during that stretch is to slow down drivers going through the occasional small town and that could more effectively be done with a better signage system and flashing lights.

For representation in Bishop or Independence in the Inyo Courts, contact a lawyer who knows the area, the officers, the judges, and the law. A free consultation with a traffic lawyer will let you know what your options are and if legal representation will help protect your driving record and reduce your costs.

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