I could roll a couple different ways on this one. I could talk about my ability to visually estimate a vehicle’s speed and compare it to the average joe and their seemingly endless complaints about the whole city driving “at least 50 miles an hour” in front of their house. (Hint: They are not.)
Today, however, I’m gonna take a different tack. I stopped a woman today for speeding. It was about as prototypical as you can get. Reader’s Digest version:
MC: You know why?
Here’s where it got interesting and was the catalyst for this post:
MC: Do you know what the speed limit on Main Ave. is?
MC: Do you know how fast you were going?
Speeder (suddenly incensed at my obvious exaggeration regarding her speed): 61!?!?
All the !?!?, in conjunction with her tone of voice, equated to this in my head: Have you lost your mind? How could I possibly be traveling at such a pace? Do you know how much faster that is than what I thought I was traveling at? How can this be? I refuse, I say, I refuse to grasp the belief that I was driving at SIX miles an hour faster than what my estimation was! Your equipment obviously sent its beam through a wormhole and grabbed hold of a craft that was capable at traveling at such reckless speeds. The very space/time continuum is teetering in the balance as we stand her and debate your ineptitude, sir!
(To answer a side note I’m sure somebody has…yes, I frequently write this in my head as I write a citation. If you ever see a motorcop snickering to himself on the side of the road, it’s probably me cooking up entertainment for you.)
Of course, she didn’t actually say any of that, but I was nonetheless taken a bit aback at her shock at a mere six miles an hour difference. I’m no math major, but the difference between 55 and 61 is still six, right? Speaking of math…
55 miles per hour is equal to 80.67 feet per second. 61 miles per hour is equal to 89.47 feet per second. That’s an extra nine feet per second. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? That’s because it isn’t. However, when you think about the speed limit of 45 mph, that changes things a bit. 45 miles per hour is equal to 66 feet per second. The difference between 45 mph and 61 mph is 16 mph or 23 feet per second. That is a significant difference in my book.
I could blow your minds with more math regarding perception/reaction time at those two speeds, but I think I heard one of you fall out of your chair and bump your head. Terribly sorry about that.
I was at a loss to understand why she was so shocked by a mere six-mile per hour difference for two simple reasons:
1. She already admitted to speeding.
2. She estimated her speed at 55 mph…10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
It almost like she thought I was making it up. She refused to believe that I had got her on lidar at 61. I’m at a loss as to why it was so preposterous in her mind.
Have you ever been stopped for speeding and haggled with the officer about your speed?
Photo credit: Flickr and michaelroper