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Legality Concerns RE: "A Meditation on the Speed Limit"

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  • Legality Concerns RE: "A Meditation on the Speed Limit"

    Hey all (first post)-

    I recently saw the short film "A Meditation on the Speed Limit," where a group of Georgia Tech students got on I-285 going 55 mph (the posted limit) four abreast. Needless to say, this created a terrible traffic backup, and created some extremely dangerous situations. The point of the video was to illustrate the flaws in our speed limit system. It was not intended to insult law enforcement, but rather law creation.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...+limit&pl=true

    That's a link to the movie if you haven't seen it.

    I'm trying to plan the same type of scenario for the Capitol Beltway (I-495). I need to know possible legal backlash. Can I or any of our group be pulled over for doing this? We will all be travelling the posted speed limit. I'm trying to organize this for MD and VA, as the Beltway travels through both states, but if that turns out to be too difficult, I'll be focusing on VA only.

    Here are the codes in the VA legal system that I've found regarding speeding, passing, and overtaking vehicles:

    § 46.2-802. Drive on right side of highways.
    Except as otherwise provided by law, on all highways of sufficient width, the driver of a vehicle shall drive on the right half of the highway, unless it is impracticable to travel on such side of the highway and except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, subject to the provisions applicable to overtaking and passing set forth in Article 4 (§ 46.2-837 et seq.) of this chapter.
    (Code 1950, § 46-220; 1952, c. 671; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-203; 1989, c. 727.)
    ________________________________________
    § 46.2-816. Following too closely.
    The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.
    (Code 1950, § 46-229; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-213; 1983, c. 248; 1989, c. 727.)
    ________________________________________
    § 46.2-838. Passing when overtaking a vehicle.
    The driver of any vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at least two feet to the left of the overtaken vehicle and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken vehicle, except as otherwise provided in this article.
    (Code 1950, § 46-224; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-208; 1989, c. 727; 1999, c. 999; 2004, cc. 947, 973.)
    ________________________________________
    § 46.2-841. When overtaking vehicle may pass on right.
    A. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass to the right of another vehicle only:
    1. When the overtaken vehicle is making or about to make a left turn, and its driver has given the required signal;
    2. On a highway with unobstructed pavement, not occupied by parked vehicles, of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction;
    3. On a one-way street or on any one-way roadway when the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
    B. The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle on the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. Except where driving on paved shoulders is permitted by lawfully placed signs, no such movement shall be made by driving on the shoulder of the highway or off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway.
    (Code 1950, § 46-226; 1952, c. 666; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-210; 1985, c. 481; 1989, c. 727.)
    ________________________________________
    § 46.2-842. Driver to give way to overtaking vehicle.
    Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle. Any over-width, or slow-moving vehicle as defined by § 46.2-1081 shall be removed from the roadway at the nearest suitable location when necessary to allow traffic to pass.
    (Code 1950, § 46-227; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-211; 1979, c. 361; 1989, c. 727.)

    ________________________________________
    § 46.2-842.1. Drivers to give way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highways.
    It shall be unlawful to fail to give way to overtaking traffic when driving a motor vehicle to the left and abreast of another motor vehicle on a divided highway. On audible or light signal, the driver of the overtaken vehicle shall move to the right to allow the overtaking vehicle to pass as soon as the overtaken vehicle can safely do so. A violation of this section shall not be construed as negligence per se in any civil action.
    (1989, c. 708, § 46.1-211.1.)
    ________________________________________

    § 46.2-843. Limitations on overtaking and passing.
    The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center line of a highway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be made safely.
    No person operating a truck or combination of vehicles shall pass or attempt to pass any truck or combination of vehicles going in the same direction on an upgrade if such passing will impede the passage of following traffic.
    (Code 1950, § 46-228; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-212; 1989, c. 727.)
    ________________________________________
    § 46.2-856. Passing two vehicles abreast.
    A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who passes or attempts to pass two other vehicles abreast, moving in the same direction, except on highways having separate roadways of three or more lanes for each direction of travel, or on designated one-way streets or highways. This section shall not apply, however, to a motor vehicle passing two other vehicles when one or both of such other vehicles is a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped; nor shall this section apply to a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped passing two other vehicles.
    (Code 1950, §§ 46-209, 46-209.1; 1950, p. 880; 1952, c. 671; 1954, cc. 225, 401, 458; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-190; 1960, c. 510; 1964, c. 266; 1966, c. 694; 1968, c. 575; 1970, c. 521; 1974, cc. 222, 455; 1975, c. 633; 1978, c. 27; 1979, c. 86; 1981, cc. 333, 585; 1985, c. 148; 1989, c. 727; 2001, c. 834; 2002, c. 254.)
    ________________________________________
    § 46.2-868.1. Aggressive driving; penalties.
    A. A person is guilty of aggressive driving if (i) the person violates one or more of the following: § 46.2-802 (Drive on right side of highways), § 46.2-804 (Failure to observe lanes marked for traffic), § 46.2-816 (Following too closely), § 46.2-821 (Vehicles before entering certain highways shall stop or yield right-of-way), § 46.2-833.1 (Evasion of traffic control devices), § 46.2-838 (Passing when overtaking a vehicle), § 46.2-841 (When overtaking vehicle may pass on right), § 46.2-842 (Driver to give way to overtaking vehicle), § 46.2-842.1 (Driver to give way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highway), § 46.2-843 (Limitations on overtaking and passing), any provision of Article 8 (§ 46.2-870 et seq.) of Chapter 8 of Title 46.2 (Speed), or § 46.2-888 (Stopping on highways); and (ii) that person is a hazard to another person or commits an offense in clause (i) with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person.
    B. Aggressive driving shall be punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, aggressive driving with the intent to injure another person shall be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition to the penalties described in this subsection, the court may require successful completion of an aggressive driving program.
    (2002, cc. 752, 782.)

    I'm particularly concerned about the code that I've bolded. I know that's a lot to read, and I know you all have knowledge about your own state's laws, so I'd appreciate any advice you can give me.

    Should I contact VDOT or VSP before attempting this? What other precautions could I take? I'm most concerned about being pulled over; I don't want that to happen.

    In the Georgia case, the police did not pull the students over. The law stated that cars could not travel abreast if they impeded the "normal flow" of traffic. However, the "normal flow" is assumed to travel at the posted speed limit.

    Thank you.

    -Derek

  • #2

    I cannot say much about Maryland (half of the I-495 Beltway is in that state), but I can offer some comments about VA.

    First of all, the "keep right" law ( 46.2-802 ) you mention was referring (I believe) to a two-lane highway with traffic flowing in both directions. You are required to drive to the right-hand side -- as we do not live in the UK.


    As far as 46.2-842.1, I suppose you could receive a summons for that offense.........but I highly doubt it. That basically is like a "Slower Traffic Keep Right" regulation, which is virtually unenforced in most states (including Virginia). I-95, I-295 and many other highways have such signs posted every two miles or so, but I have never heard of or seen anybody being written for being a rolling roadblock. {Just part of the dumbing-down of the motoring public, I guess.} IMHO, left-lane bandits rank down near pedophiles; but there seem to be more and more of them every day.


    But if you are seen as creating a nuisance, a VA trooper can be very, very creative with the vehicle code if he or she so chooses. The vehicle code here is wide open, and there are often two or more statutes that can cover nearly every type of offense.

    One of the major automotive magazines pulled a stunt like this back in the 1980s and it created a huge traffic jam. Now, you might not be directly participating in Aggressive Driving ( 46.2-868.1 ) as per the law, but you are sure going to contribute to it!

    I would think long and hard about undertaking such a venture. Your point is valid, but going about it in this manner may serve to earn you more enemies and fewer friends.

    We all know that the 55-mph speed limit is pretty much a joke on most Interstate highways - especially 495, 695 (Baltimore) and 95. But trying to get it changed or any effort to return to the tried-and-true 85th Percentile method of the past is futile.


    Whatever you decide, I wish you luck. I can't say whether or not you should contact the authorities of either state, though, since you could be asking for trouble.


    Last edited by VA Dutch; 04-01-2006, 12:29 PM.

    The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

    The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

    ------------------------------------------------

    "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm from California so our laws are different. If you were to do it here I see a few violations.

      First, freeways are state property and there is an obscure law that prohibits conducting a free speech activity on state property without a permit. This includes demonstrations, parades, moving together in unison, or doing anything that calls attention to your message. You would fall within that category here, and because permits are not issued for free speech activities on freeways due to safety issues, you would be in violation.

      We also have a law that requires slower vehicles to stay to the right. The general interpretation of that rule is that if some is trying to pass you, you need to be in the next lane over to the right. I've been in admin jobs and haven't written a citation in 20 years, so I don't know if that applies when the passing car is going faster than the speed limit. However, the whole intent is to keep the roads free flowing and not create jams which can clog up traffic and cause accidents.

      Finally, if you do create a rolling traffic break, that fact that you have clogged the highways may prevent emergency vehicles (who can legally go faster than the speed limit) from responding to an emergency calls. This is something you don't want to do.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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      • #4
        I think that the trooper or police officer that would try to ticket you for the offense would think very hard about doing so, its a public relations nightmare in the making.

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't see your point at all in doing this.

          The drivers of this country are not going to change and you and the other idiots blocking 4-5 lanes driving the posted speed limit are not going to tell the rest of the country anything new by ****ing other drivers off.

          In my opinion, you're making a bad situation worse. Honestly, what is the freakin point? Go find something constructive to do with your life and let the police handle the aggressive drivers.
          I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

          Comment


          • #6
            After viewing the film, I find the whole premise to be flawed. They are asserting that the 55 MPH speed limit causes dangerous driving conditions. To the contrary, the film demonstrates that those attempting to exceed the 55 MPH speed limit engaged in the dangerous driving.

            Had all traffic been travelling at the posted speed limit, there would not have been a problem.

            Like the 55 MPH speed limit or not, it is not to blame for what was seen on the video. Raise the speed limit to 80 MPH and then put four cars abreast at 80 MPH and see what happens... The exact same thing you saw here, but only at more dangerous speeds with less reaction time.

            I'll leave highway safety to the auto engineers and highway designers rather than the opinion of college students anyday. The college students can still be the "go to guys" when it comes to tapping a keg, drinking from funnels, and relying on faulty logic for an explanation of an explainable and expected result.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Downeaster
              After viewing the film, I find the whole premise to be flawed. They are asserting that the 55 MPH speed limit causes dangerous driving conditions. To the contrary, the film demonstrates that those attempting to exceed the 55 MPH speed limit engaged in the dangerous driving.

              Had all traffic been travelling at the posted speed limit, there would not have been a problem.

              Like the 55 MPH speed limit or not, it is not to blame for what was seen on the video. Raise the speed limit to 80 MPH and then put four cars abreast at 80 MPH and see what happens... The exact same thing you saw here, but only at more dangerous speeds with less reaction time.

              I'll leave highway safety to the auto engineers and highway designers rather than the opinion of college students anyday. The college students can still be the "go to guys" when it comes to tapping a keg, drinking from funnels, and relying on faulty logic for an explanation of an explainable and expected result.
              People drive at a speed which feels comfortable and with modern cars and modern highways 55 mph is a joke. If the speed limit was 80 you're really not going to see the difference you see now regarding posted v. actual. The 85th percentile is probably somewhere around 70 mph. The speed limit has remained the same for decades even in the face of vehicles that are much safer and better performing. Artificial low limits undermine law enforcement and waste everyones time.
              The People's Republic of Massachusetts

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              • #8
                Ummm, didn't they already get rid of the 55 limit? Except in posted areas, usually the heavily urban areas?

                Besides, the original reason for the 55 mph was to conserve gas during the crisis.
                Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

                sigpic

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                • #9
                  This is idiotic. You do this and I hope that you get into a car wreck with all of your friends (no injuries and more importantly, no real hard writing for the on scene officer).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Catman
                    People drive at a speed which feels comfortable and with modern cars and modern highways 55 mph is a joke. If the speed limit was 80 you're really not going to see the difference you see now regarding posted v. actual. The 85th percentile is probably somewhere around 70 mph. The speed limit has remained the same for decades even in the face of vehicles that are much safer and better performing. Artificial low limits undermine law enforcement and waste everyones time.

                    The problem with that is,the cars might be better,but the driving still sucks!
                    Am I the only one thinking the national peed limit is 65 MPH not 55??
                    FILL YOUR HANDS!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Think about holding up an ambulance or fire truck and someone dies because of your little stunt; how would you feel then?
                      Kelly

                      We are the thin blue line
                      between you
                      and all the money in the world.

                      And no you can't have any.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bigg Dogg
                        The problem with that is,the cars might be better,but the driving still sucks!
                        Am I the only one thinking the national peed limit is 65 MPH not 55??

                        Dogg,
                        The speed limit varies from area to area and state to state. I believe that most every state now has a posted limit of 65 mph on most Interstate highways. NY, NJ and PA were some of the last holdouts for the dreaded double-nickel, but even those folks eventually they saw the light. NC upped their limit to 70 mph, and some of the western states allow 75 mph on certain roads.

                        You are right about the dreadful state of driver behavior, though. Get folks to exercise a little lane discipline and to use their blinkers.......and that would solve most of the safety issues.

                        I would much rather see safer & more competent drivers overall, than simply slowing everybody down to a congested crawl. Anyone who has spent time driving on European highways understands that speed itself is not the problem. You'd be safer, more comfortable and more relaxed doing 100+ mph in Germany than you would going 65 or 70 here. Sad, but true!

                        The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

                        The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

                        ------------------------------------------------

                        "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Catman
                          People drive at a speed which feels comfortable and with modern cars and modern highways 55 mph is a joke. If the speed limit was 80 you're really not going to see the difference you see now regarding posted v. actual. The 85th percentile is probably somewhere around 70 mph. The speed limit has remained the same for decades even in the face of vehicles that are much safer and better performing. Artificial low limits undermine law enforcement and waste everyones time.

                          Go to the head of the class, sir! It seems as though the "85th Percentile" rule had worked so well for so long, but then some sort of twisted, politically-correct thinking tossed it aside. (Or could it be a never-ending quest for bigger budgets and revenue enhancement?)

                          Back during the Eisenhower Era, the highways were configured for travel at between 70 & 80 mph in cars that had drum brakes, nylon ply tires, no ABS, no anti-sway bars, no shoulder belts, no airbags, and they lacked other safety features that we take for granted nowadays.

                          Even the cheapest modern economy car outhandles, outbrakes and outperforms the high-end vehicles from back then. Our roads are also designed better and have improved through technology (despite lack of proper maintenance these days).

                          The weakest link is the lack of driver skill. Too many vehicles do everything but drive themselves, requiring less effort on the part of the operator. Instead of trying to slow everybody down, perhaps our emphasis should be on improving driver skill and brushing up on ettiquette. If people who were the cause of traffic congestion and "road rage" were actually ticketed for offenses already in the vehicle code, perhaps they might wise up. Who knows?

                          Somebody who is going "too slow" in the left-hand lane is actually more of a danger than a driver who is safely traveling at 10 or even 15 mph above the posted limit. Yeah, sure.......in a fantasy world where everyone would do exactly the speed limit, that might not be an issue; but anyone who travels the Interstate highways frequently will believe otherwise.

                          Decency, common sense and general courtesy seem to have completely disappeared from our national landscape - including travel by car.

                          The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

                          The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

                          ------------------------------------------------

                          "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by VA Dutch
                            The weakest link is the lack of driver skill. Too many vehicles do everything but drive themselves, requiring less effort on the part of the operator. Instead of trying to slow everybody down, perhaps our emphasis should be on improving driver skill and brushing up on ettiquette. If people who were the cause of traffic congestion and "road rage" were actually ticketed for offenses already in the vehicle code, perhaps they might wise up. Who knows?

                            Somebody who is going "too slow" in the left-hand lane is actually more of a danger than a driver who is safely traveling at 10 or even 15 mph above the posted limit. Yeah, sure.......in a fantasy world where everyone would do exactly the speed limit, that might not be an issue; but anyone who travels the Interstate highways frequently will believe otherwise.

                            Decency, common sense and general courtesy seem to have completely disappeared from our national landscape - including travel by car.
                            ^^^affirm!^^^

                            I believe California has vehicle codes that cover "speed of travel" and "traveling at a speed that is unsafe/creates a hazard," so you can get ticketed for driving slower then the everyone else.

                            We need Driver's Ed back in the schools.
                            Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

                            sigpic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally Posted by Rockmaninoff
                              Needless to say, this created a terrible traffic backup, and created some extremely dangerous situations. The point of the video was to illustrate the flaws in our speed limit system. It was not intended to insult law enforcement, but rather law creation.
                              A couple of things.

                              First, you come to a site called Officer.com to ask advice on how to accomplish your task on insulting law creation. That may have been a tactical error on your part. Im suprised some of the guys actually gave you some advice. None of us here of course created the laws but we all did take an oath to enforce them.

                              Second, according to you, the GT idiots created a terrible traffic backup and extremely dangerous situations (I watched the video and I agree). Which of these do you wish to accomplish and why? And why do you think you can put people in this unnecessarely dangerous situation just so you can make a stupid film thats already been done. If anything is going to come of this, GT is going to get the credit, not your sorry ***. Your just going to be looked at as an imposter, a phony.

                              Anyway, thats all i have to say. Good Luck and Godspeed
                              Last edited by John McClane; 04-02-2006, 10:14 AM.

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