Rules Of The Road Part 2: What’s So Bad About Speeding?

SkillfulWhile it is unlikely there is any driver who has never exceeded the speed limit, there are those who try to stay within the speed limit, and there are those who mostly ignore the speed limits. There is exceeding the speed limit, and then there is speeding. While the topic of problems with speeding may at first appear to be simple and obvious, it seems as though drivers are trying to set new land speed records daily! Obviously the topic of speeding warrants a second, closer look.

Perfect driving may not be possible for everyone, but by understanding the logic behind speed limits one may voluntarily alter their driving habits to become a better and safer driver.

Some people only connect speeding with one thing; tickets. If they don’t think they will be caught, there is no motivation to abide by the posted speed limit. This is faulty reasoning, as they are not just trying to break the rules of the road; they are attempting to break the laws of physics. If one tries to take a turn or sharp curve well in excess of the speed limit, there is a very good chance they will end up in the wrong lane, if not worse! In addition, there are ever changing dynamics on the road, making it impossible to predict all outcomes.

So what determines the exact speed limits? Lakewood has varying speed zones, ranging from 15mph (parks) to 50 mph (route 9, Cedar Bridge). Each zone was set with 2 things in mind, the road itself, as well as the surrounding conditions. Therefore, when the sign says “Speed Limit”, it is actually a shortened version of “Speed Limitation”. In a 25 mph zone, anyone going above 25 has limitations on them from the actual road itself (sharp curves) as well as from the surroundings (pedestrians, side streets etc.).

The #1 driving rules is that change is NOT good. Any change in the actual road or its surroundings means you have to adapt, while ensuring that others adapt as well. A classic example of change in the road is a sharp curve, while an example of change in the surrounding environment is a school or a park. A lot of change can result in unpredictable stop and go movement, as well as last minute decisions. The greater the potential for change(s), the lower the speed limit.

Our roads are safest when there is complete predictability. Rules and regulations of the road, such as traffic lights, stop signs, and yes, speed limits are designed to make uniformity and predictability on the road. As we all know, one of the most frustrating and nerve racking driving conditions is stop and go traffic, as there is no predictable pattern.

On this vein one may understand that a yellow sign with an arrow and a speed limit is NOT a suggestion. It is a temporary speed limitation due to a curve. It is yellow, not black and white like all other speed limit signs because it is a temporary state of the road, and is therefore a temporary speed limitation.

Try posing the following question to a friend:

Which area has more potential dangers, a 25 mph zone, or a 65 mph zone?

The answer is that a 25 mph zone has more potential dangers. After all, why else is it only 25? Some of the potential dangers to look out for are:

Children, pedestrians, bikers, cars pulling out, sharp curves, hidden driveways, thin roads, numerous side streets, parked cars blocking visibility, multiple stop signs and/or lights etc.

Does it bother you when someone flies down the street on which you and your family live? If so, always drive down someone else’s street as if it is your own

Of course this is not to say that a 65 zone is easy or without any danger. There are many accidents and even fatalities on high speed roads. However, the point here is that one should not assume slow speed zones are hazard free.

The following is a list of some zones in Lakewood and the logic behind the setting of the speed limits in these areas.

25 MPH ZONE: Some local examples:

North Lake Drive (by Georgian Court University) – The road itself has very sharp curves. This means that if someone exceeds the limit while taking a curve, they will likely not able to stay in their proper lane. There may be bikers or deer on the road which will not be evident until the driver is right on top of them due to the sharpness of the curve. Even if one knows the sharpness of a curve like the back of their hand, they can not possibly know if there is a potential hazard (such as a broken down car in the roadway, pedestrians etc.) around the curve. Therefore, even if the road is known to you, the environment may change at any time, so keep to the speed limit. Notice that further down North Lake drive, the speed limit increases to 35 mph. This is because the road widens significantly, thereby affording better vision to the driver, along with a decrease in the sharpness of the curves. Also, because the road is wider, there is more of a cushion of safety surrounding the vehicle.

Clifton Ave (between Main st. and 6th street) – The reason for the set limit of 25 is obvious to anyone who has driven down that road. Although Clifton starts out very wide (by County line), around 6th street the road gets progressively thinner. In addition, pedestrian traffic changes drastically at that point. That is also where the traffic lights begin (bear in mind that the yellow lights will be shorter, as the length of the light reflects the zone). It is also harder to see into, and out of the side streets due to the volume of parked cars. This causes the infamous “Lakewood roll”, where cars will roll out past a stop sign until they are halfway into the main road before stopping.

In this area there is more potential for change, so the limit is lowered. That is also why the speed limit by both schools on Clifton is 25 mph when children are present. Meaning, although normally 35 mph is the proper speed, when children are present there is an additional limitation present. By the same principle the speed limit in the areas by yeshiva (BMG) should be lowered between the hours of 9:45-10:30, as well as 1:40-2:15. These are of course the times when everyone there arrives and leaves. In addition, Clifton ave from around 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. should be 35 MPH even in town. However, this would likely confuse and complicate matters. For the sake of our children the law requires us to be especially alert and aware in areas of potential danger to them. All other roads remain at a constant speed limit (with a few exceptions such as bridges and highways, which sometimes have lowered speed limits due to inclement weather conditions).

Monmouth and Princeton Avenues are both 25 MPH in their entirety. Although for the most part they are wide roads, there are a lot of busy side streets which cross these 2 avenues. In addition, there are a lot of parked cars which handicap vision.

35 MPH zone: This zone is a variation of a 25 zone, but with better conditions. There may be pedestrians, but there is more visibility. Also, the cars are more separated from pedestrians because there is a shoulder or wide street. There is likely to be less frequent stopping due to stop signs and lights than in a 25 zone,

Forest ave. is a 35 mph zone. It is a wide road, but there is a lot of cross traffic (foot and car). There is a hill (6th street) which temporarily impedes vision to within only 100 feet. There is also Satmar….(enough said).

40-45 MPH This zone is an “almost highway”. One is still likely contending with some side streets as well as shopping centers. However, although pedestrians are still a factor, they are more likely to be by lights and corners. The roads tend to be straight, and allow a clear view for extended distances. There may be 2 lanes on this road, in order to ease congestion.

50-55 MPH This zone is considered as a highway. The likelihood is that you are on the main road, therefore most traffic lights will be in your favor (in the sense that you will have a shorter red than side streets, and yellow lights are extended). These roads are likely to have a shoulder. There are usually at least 2 lanes, and mostly no turns are allowed (use jug handle in New Jersey or special turn only lanes in the rest of America).

Route 9 in Howell is 50 MPH. Upon entering Lakewood, Madison Avenue is 40 MPH (by county line road). However, as you travel through town (around 4th street area) the speed limit drops to 35 MPH. This is a reflection of the dramatic change in surroundings, thus setting up for more potential dangers. As you leave town (when Madison becomes River Ave, going toward Toms River) the speed limit edges up gradually to 50. Perhaps Route 9 has six different names in as many different towns in order to reflect the different zones. The again, that still would not explain why Forest drive becomes Adams, and Shady Lane becomes Gudz, and Seventh Street becomes Ridge, sort of, and Clifton become Cedar Bridge, and County Line become Lanes Mill…..

65 MPH This zone is titled “Keep both hands on the wheel and don’t fall asleep”. Roads are generally smooth, easy, and have good visibility. Traffic is flowing in one direction only (there is a divider between traffic going in opposing directions). However, bear in mind that when something does happen, it happens really really fast. Leave extra space all around your vehicle and stay alert.

One more thing to consider. It seems that there is a phenomenon specific to driving which relates to speeding. When one is speeding they will often drive aggressively and recklessly. However, it seems that most people will miraculously calm down when they reach their destination. They will drive as if there is a huge fire, leaving one long line of tire marks all the way from their point of origin until their intended destination. Then, upon reaching their destination they will calmly sit and listen to the radio in the parking lot for 20 minutes. Or perhaps they will sit and schmooze on their cell, or slowly exit their vehicle and proceed straight to the water cooler, coffee room, etc. If one is determined to terrorize everyone on the road by speeding, they should at least be consistent and rush into work!

Every subject under the sun has a “they say” related to it. It seems as though “they say” that the police will let you go around 5 mph over the speed limit, especially on highways. Assuming that this statement were even true (according to the law, you may not go over the limit, period) this information is entirely useless. The whole premise of the police giving some leeway is based on the fact that it is nearly impossible to keep a vehicle right at the speed limit at all times, especially when one is on a highway. For instance, when you are travelling at 65 mph, a slight downhill grade will increase the speed of your vehicle automatically, sometimes lending an extra 5-7 mph. For this reason some say that the police take these fluctuations into account. However, getting on the highway with this “information” in mind is almost pointless, as the driver will start off on the highway at 70 mph, “knowing” that they have 5 mph leeway. In the meantime, when they go downhill, they will gain 5 mph, and reach 75 mph, and we all know what happens after that.

Speed of a turn:
Once we are on the topic of proper speeds, it bears mentioning that although there is no official speed limit for turning a corner, the general recommendation is the range of 10 mph. Obviously, this rule is subject to circumstances, but it does apply to the vast majority of turns. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, if one would like to turn a corner on four wheels instead of only two, they need to stop the momentum of the car. The momentum dictates that the car continues going straight instead of around the corner. While it is possible to make a turn at a higher speed, the car will inevitably end up turning too wide, often into oncoming traffic. Also, when turning a corner, one does not know what the situation is on the street onto which they are turning. This means, there could be a child chasing a ball into the street, construction, a car pulling out into the street, a school bus letting out kids or picking up etc. If a vehicle rounds a corner at 20+ mph, they will not have ample time to digest information in their new situation, and therefore will not have ample time to react properly.

Requests regarding topics for future articles are certainly welcomed by emailing [email protected].

Yehoshua Eidlitz is an instructor with Skillful Driving School. They may be reached at (732) 363-0410.

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  1. on forest ave. WHEN IT POSTED 35MPH IS IT THE FIRST 35 OR THE SECOND 35…!! because most of the vehicle seem to like the second 35

  2. On highways it is impossible to go 65 MPH and not be left in the dust by everyone else. The speed limit should be raised to 70 or more because 65 or less is unrealistic on a highway. Anyway cars are built to go faster, if we can’t drive them that way, why are they built that way? I was told, drive with everyone else, whatever speed everyone else is doing, do it, and don’t stand out. BTW, I can’t stand slowpokes driving in the left lane. In town, I always drive carefully and within the speed limit.

  3. #2 my 2 cents, “I was told, drive with everyone else, whatever speed everyone else is doing, do it, and don’t stand out.”

    First, do not rely on what you are “told,” please refer to the driver’s manual.

    Second, quoting the NJ Drivers Manual “A good rule is to keep up with the flow of traffic at any LEGAL speed.” Meaning, drive with the flow of traffic within the Legal Speed Limit. If others are speeding, that does not give you the authority to speed as well.

    Last, try not to let other driver’s intimidate you, continue driving in a legal manner. Rely on your own common sense, and don’t break laws because everyone else is. It does not shine a positive light on one’s personality and intellect.

  4. wat do u mean wat’s so bad about speeding? weird question. even if there were no speed limits pple shud still slow down on the roads. not only is it cautious but it’s respectful towards other drivers. if u wanna speed, go 2 a racetrack for goodness sake. but it doesn’t belong on the road.

  5. To speed or not to speed. It shouldn’t even be a question! Speeding can reduce or ability to stop when necessary and can often be the cause of a driver losing control of his vehicle. Staying within the speed limits makes sense!

  6. there are times when it’s actually dangerous to follow the speed limit. A practical example is around exit 125 on the GSP when the speed limit drops to 45mph as you go over the bridge. Most cars are going at least 65 and when you are going 20 mph below average you are creating a real hazard.

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