Smallbear said:

Things I find odd:

Speed limits in general.

and

I just think if you really have an ulterior motive for making people go slower, DESIGN THE ROAD TO BE USED SLOWER. Don’t just turn it into a cash grab.

This got me thinking. Why not eliminate speed limits and instead just police people for dangerous driving? Would that work? Sounds like common sense, right?

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There are three main reasons I can see that local governments would want speed limits:

First is safety. Ostensibly, providing guidelines for what is a safe speed based on some systematic rationale helps remove the need for every single user to use his unique judgement of what is safe. I think the effectiveness of this strategy is arguable, depending on the specific road.

Second is for government income. Although most local governments will deny it, I think we all know that speeding citations are a lucrative source of income, especially for smaller municipalities.

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Third, and this is the most interesting to me, is to give the legal structure for policing. If you just police and cite people when they drive recklessly or dangerously, then the citation rests 100% on the judgement of the police officer. We in the US like objective measures for things. A speed limit sign gives the cop something to write down, a codified standard of behavior that when violated, specifies a punishment that doesn’t rely solely on the officer. It’s a way of reassuring the community that things are governed by laws and not the will of the sheriff. I think this is a big reason why we as a society will continue to feel the need for speed limits.

What do you think?