Hey! You. Get off of my….
One of the admirable qualities of Truckee citizens is their independent spirit. It’s one part the historical ‘western’ mentality of liberty and self-determination, and one part ‘mountain’ mentality, where individual strengths are honed living amidst fierce weather and difficult mountain passes.
Minding the speed limits around this area, however, calls for a commitment to the laws of roads and obeying all those limits we just don’t think we can, or should, or want to do. Why, we’re independent and self-determined, and we have to get somewhere, and fast!
Drive anywhere in Truckee and you’ll see a majority of drivers exceeding the speed limit by a minimum of ten miles per hour. Many drivers say, “time is money,” and they just have to get there sooner than later.
Upon inspection, however, it takes about eight minutes to drive the speed limits from one end of this town to the other on a good day. During periods of high traffic, it takes about 16 minutes. Accelerating ten miles per hour beyond the 25-35 mph limit means you’ll shave off, oh, three minutes, tops, and six minutes during high traffic. The same is true out on Highways 267, 89 or I-80. Speeding ten-to-twenty miles an hour over the limit saves you mere minutes of time.
If a willingness to ignore the speed limits, even in school zones, even with the peril of road construction, is worth it to a driver, then that driver must reconsider the ethical and moral standards of his entire life.
Breaking the speed limit laws is a selfish act. It puts pedestrians and other drivers in danger of greater injury, should an accident occur. The National Transportation Safety Administration has some sobering statistics: for every five mile per hour reduction in velocity, a driver reduces his risk of accidents by 25 percent. Accidents which do occur usually involve someone exceeding the speed limit by ten miles per hour or more, and for accidents at 15 mph over the speed limit, serious injury and death is usually the consequence. Posted speed limits are calculated for reasons of safety, and if one counts oneself a citizen of the area, then commitment to obeying the speed limit is a way to honor the inclusion.
There are other reasons to slow down. People who live in the Truckee area, or those who commute in from King’s Beach, Incline Village, Tahoe City, or down to Reno, live in a beautiful place. The traffic makes it stressful, especially during the tourist season. So, local drivers artfully dodge at high speeds, at any traffic level, weaving in and out of traffic, their minds on the road and not on the beauty, not on the stress they’re causing their fellow man, not on their own safety or that of others. Worse, people who do mind the speed limits find themselves with the grill of a giant SUV only inches from their rear-view mirror, and a train of 12 cars not too far behind, right or left lane.
The few extra minutes it takes to drive the speed limits, safely, can be spent enjoying the views, listening to favorite music, doing some deep breathing exercises, waving a friendly folks along the way.
It’s only a few minutes more in your daily drive. Get up earlier, leave work on time, don’t worry about the cops along the way…..slow down and drive the speed limits. Life’s too short – yours and ours – to behave in any other way.