Thursday, May 12, 2016
When we were house-hunting around Baltimore back in the fall, I kept
encountering something I remember hating when I first encountered it
about twenty years ago: speed humps. Unlike speed bumps, which
are often easily avoided or sped over with little consequence. Speed
humps will make you bottom out if you drive over them above the posted
speed. That, and my failure back then to consider why it can be good
to have drivers slow down, would explain the hatred. Having kids, and
being justifiably annoyed with some capricious "speeding" tickets
since then have helped me gain better perspective on my
second-favorite new traffic control device. (I like the improved
version of the traffic
circle that has been proliferating over the past few years even
So, why do I, who frequently grouse about speed limits being set too low, like speed humps? Because they are the opposite of almost everything I despise about government abuse of traffic law. Here are the main reasons: Unlike twenty-mile-per-hour speed limits, speed humps don't suddenly pop up on highways designed for speeds of forty-five or more. Speed humps do a better job of keeping children safe than cops who may or may not be around to catch speeders. Conversely, speed humps don't use passing motorists as a source of loot through selective enforcement. In short, governments install speed humps for a good reason, the devices are effective, and they don't lend themselves to abuse.
It is good to see the government do something that bears a reasonable approximation to its proper purpose -- and to see something that would exist in a truly free society. That's why I like speed humps.
P.S. I think roads should be privately owned and the rules for their use set by their owners. That said, so long as the government is running roads, I think it should set rules that balance safety and convenience as well as possible and enforce the rules fairly.