Folly of Speeding

The other day I was driving up to Kingston, NY to meet with a potential client when I had an interesting revelation regarding the folly of exceeding the speed limit. Now I know some will simply say I’m finally growing up a little; but I don’t think that’s the case. Since I bought the Miata, I’ve been really cautious about exceeding the speed limit, because I know I’m a target for police officers trying to meet their ticket quota. But now I have another reason not to exceed the speed limit: it doesn’t save much time.

Most of the drivers on the local highways exceed the speed limit by no less than 10 miles per hour. They drive 75 mph in the 65 mph zone and frequently 75 mph in the 55 mph zones. I never allow myself to exceed the limit by more than 5 miles per hour. This means people pass me all the time. This made me think a little bit about why they are in such a hurry and then to wonder whether they’re actually saving any time.

After a little mental mathematics, I came up with the following formula to determine how many minutes it takes to travel the same distance covered when driving at the speed limit for 1 hour:

X = speed limit in MPH
Y = driving speed in MPH
M = trip duration in minutes

(X * 60 min) / Y = M

Using this formula, I was startled to discover that drivers who travel at 75 MPH in a 65 MPH zone take 52 minutes to travel the same distance as they would were they driving at 65 MPH. This equates to a savings of 8 minutes per unit distance travelled.

However, cowards like myself – who aren’t willing to brave a possible speeding ticket – would only save 4 minutes per hour because we’ll only exceed the speed limit by 5 MPH. Therefore, over the entire 2 hour trip to Kingston, I saved 8 minutes!

Of course, if you’re expecting to drive all day, a 10 MPH difference can save you some substantial time: 64 minutes for an 8 hour drive. But you have to add the increased risk of getting a speeding ticket into that balance, and also add the increased level of stress you’ll experience over the course of 8 hours.

This really only works for highway driving where you don’t encounter stop signs, traffic lights and other impediments to speedy travel. However, anyone who thinks they are saving time by speeding on local roads is obviously an idiot. Many traffic lights are timed to minimise the number of actual stops… if you are travelling at or below the speed limit. Also the number of traffic cops skyrockets in villages and towns where the speed limit is lower.

If you won’t save any time, you stand a much greater risk of collision, and you have an increased chance of earning a speeding ticket, why do you exceed the speed limit?