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Not a safety measure, a revenue measure

Brian Arner has link to video of a group of people who almost shut down Atlanta’s interstate by obeying the 55MPH speed limit with a rolling roadblock. Mayhem ensues.

Im all for protesting and such but its not an excuse to be a dick and blocking traffic intentionally pretty much makes you a dick in my book. But it does illustrate that the speed limit through there is ridiculously low.

18 Responses to “Not a safety measure, a revenue measure”

  1. NateG Says:

    Honestly, I thought that was one of the better protests in recent memory. Granted, I’m glad I wasn’t stuck behind it, but as “civil obedience,” it was clever and got the point across without breaking stuff or rioting. Good on ’em. Heck, they showed the silliness of a law by OBEYING it, rather than breaking it in a silly way. They get points for that one.

  2. countertop Says:

    That is one great video.

  3. Kirk Says:

    We have that happen from time to time here in MD. Only it is a state cop sitting at 55 in the middle of a 4 land highway. I was almost caught up in an accident that that cop created by causing a 2 mile backup behind himself. What happens is that you get people trying to weave in and out of the pack to get to the front so that they can go 70 again. In the process they end up running people off the road or causing massive breaking behind them when they do cut off another car. Just makes for a big mess. Brought to you by the state politzi…

  4. _Jon Says:

    It’s called “obstructing traffic” or “blocking”.
    And it’s illegal.
    Considering they coordinated it, that also makes them guilty of “collusion”.

    It does lead to a good discussion of rights though.
    Did they violate the rights of free movement of the other motorists by blocking their passage and limiting their speed?

  5. NateG Says:

    Okay, if what they did is illegal, then we’re all screwed. It’s illegal to exceed the speed limit: check. It’s illegal to drive the speed limit? And illegal to collude to drive the speed limit?

    Uncle’s right: I’d be damn pissed to be stuck behind them, but I think I’d be more pissed to find out what they did was illegal. I could see impeding traffic if they were going UNDER the speed limit. But since they’re legally prohibited from exceeding it (as are the people who were trying to pass them), then what could they be charged with? Preventing others from breaking the law? That would make a mighty fine damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Perhaps making their point even more.

    Full disclosure: It’ll be a cold day in hell (or a big snow storm here) when I drive at or below 55 when not in the presence of a cop car.

  6. Addison Says:

    Nate:
    Law says, slower traffic, keep to the right.
    So the claim that they were “innocently” all doing 55, in a line abreast doesn’t wash.
    Say, for instance, you go to an intersection. 4 way stop. And you walk across it. Fine, right? What if you, and 10 friends cross it? No problem. Traffic is yielding to you, as they are required to.
    What happens when you and 30 people now cross in the crosswalk, and completely obstruct traffic? You can figure a scenario (walking back and forth, or walking in a “circle”.
    Are you breaking the law? Damn skippy. But doesn’t the law say, that you can cross the road there? And that traffic has to yield the right of way to you? Yup.
    “Obeying” the law, in an obstructive manner isn’t always legal. In this case, they ran afoul of the requirements to get out of the way, to drive in a safe manner.

  7. Standard Mischief Says:

    I don’t object to this type of protest. Yes, they were obstructing traffic. Provided that they weren’t planning on doing this every day, I figure this is the price to pay for living with a government that’s not allowed to restrict free speech.

    If I were them, though, I’d put a sign in my back window: “Political protest against the 55 mph speed limit. Honk repeatably and display your middle finger to show support!”

  8. SayUncle Says:

    Law says, slower traffic, keep to the right.

    Also says you can’t exceed 55. If you happen to be in the passing lane and the car on your right is doing 55 as well, damned if you do . . .

  9. Manish Says:

    What happens when you and 30 people now cross in the crosswalk, and completely obstruct traffic?

    If 30 people want to cross a crosswalk at the same time then drivers have to yield, period. The same goes for if 300 people want to drive on your street or thousands want to drive on the freeway during rush hour…those things also tend to snarl traffic.

  10. tgirsch Says:

    SayUncle:
    Also says you cant exceed 55.

    Absolutely correct. And in most places, you’ll also see a posted minimum speed (on Interstates, usually 45). The only thing that prevented them from doing a 46 mph rolling road block is the “keep right” requirement.

    And actually, I’m not sure about Georgia, but in Kentucky, the leftmost driver would be breaking the law, because it’s illegal to use the leftmost lane except to pass slower vehicles. If you’re not passing somebody, you shouldn’t be in the left lane, irrespective of your speed.

    In any case, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see a proposal to lower the speed limit, given our “addiction to oil” coupled with the fact that the fuel efficiency of most vehicles drops sharply over 50 MPH.

  11. tgirsch Says:

    The other issue that’s difficult to get stats on is the relative safety of higher speeds. It’s true that the fatality rate in 2004 was a historic low (1.46 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles, compared to 1.73 in 1994), but there are a lot of other factors at play. For one thing, seat belt use was substantially increased in the intervening time, from 50% of occupants in 1994 to 63% in 2004. Also, the drunk driving problem seems to have become somewhat better in that time, with alcohol being involved in 39% of 2004’s fatalities, versus 43% of 1994’s. Not to mention the fact that with air bags, anti-lock brakes, and other such features now more prevalent, cars are considerably safer than they were back then.

    All that said, I can’t find any evidence to indicate that increased speed limits had any detrimental effect, despite police claims to the contrary. I guess if we had two states with similar pre-1995 fatality rates, one of which increased the limit when the other did not, then we could do a meaningful comparison. But absent that, I don’t think we can.

    Source for data.

    By the way, if you want to reduce fatalities, looks from these stats like the single biggest thing you could do is to prohibit men from driving or riding in vehicles, given that they account for 69% of all fatalities. 🙂

    Aren’t statistics fun?

  12. SayUncle Says:

    The other issue thats difficult to get stats on is the relative safety of higher speeds. Its true that the fatality rate in 2004 was a historic low (1.46 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles, compared to 1.73 in 1994), but there are a lot of other factors at play.

    Clearly, the assault weapons ban is responsible for this! 😉

  13. Addison Says:

    Manish:
    You (deliberately?) missed the point.

    If people are *not* proceeding, but merely walking across the street, just to block it, yes, that’s illegal. Despite the fact that the overt act *was* legal, the continuation of it in a manner such as that isn’t.

    Uncle:
    According to my Driver’s ed, if you’re doing 55, and so’s the guy to your right, it’s your job to slow down, and move right. (They covered this scenario. SC Driver’s Ed, not GA). The teacher’s question: “How did you get to his left if you’re going the same speed?”

  14. Justin Says:

    off topic…google video kicks ass. the second i clicked it the video began rolling…no buffer etc…kudos to the google servers.

  15. Manish Says:

    Addison..no its not. Look up some of the litigation regarding the Critical Mass bicycle rides.

  16. Kit Says:

    Alanesq has an interesting post up about this same topic (http://alanesq.livejournal.com/200658.html) in which it would seem that two of the participants in the stunt actually responded to the criticism.

  17. Addison Says:

    Manish:
    1) Not quite the same thing.
    2) Even if it was… “Stephen Rowley, an N.Y.U. student, was one of the first to be arrested.”
    ( http://www.thevillager.com/villager_100/whitlawsuitandnet.html )

    If you still don’t believe me, go get some friends and go block a busy street walking back and forth. Let me know how that goes. I’ll spot ya $15 for bail.

  18. Addison Says:

    (And from Kit’s link: “Four college students did this on the Golden Gate Bridge a few years ago. They all got a year jail time.”)

    It also has the specific GA law (Which apparently is a little different from the SC one I trained under).