X plus 7


Don’t panic, this is not a post about algebra!

Instead, what it represents is the formula I use for determining my driving speed. In the formula, X represents the posted speed limit. So if I am on a highway where the posted speed limit is 55 mph, then the maximum speed I will go, and what I set my cruise control at, is 62 mph. If the speed limit is 35 mph, I keep my speed at or below 42 mph.

This approach has several benefits, such as: I never really worry about getting a speeding ticket (I’ve heard that cops don’t start giving tickets until a driver is at least 10 mph above the speed limit); it’s one less thing to think about when driving, since I know exactly what speed I will be driving at on any particular highway; and since I use cruise control whenever I can, I think my gas mileage is better than if I were constantly speeding up and slowing down.

There are a couple of downsides to this approach. First, if I go to pass someone on a four-lane highway, and while I am in the midst of doing so a car comes up behind me, I am not going to speed up just to get out of their way. This often leads to the person behind me getting quite annoyed (as I can tell from the looks and gestures I get when that person eventually passes me).

Second, it has created, and I am willing to admit this, an almost holier-than-thou approach to my driving. While I am driving, I often think if you were to ask people at the end of any given day if they broke the law that day, virtually no one would admit to having done so. But in reality, judging by how many people pass me while I am driving (and how few people I pass), then most people are breaking the law. And from my perspective, driving above the speed limit is a much more serious crime than possession of an ounce of marijuana. Driving at such high rates of speed puts many innocent people at risk, having an ounce of pot *may* be harmful to the individual who smokes it. (I certainly am against the combination of smoking and driving, in any amount, at any speed).

I’ve often wondered how people can justify going so much faster than the speed limit. It can’t be that everyone has an emergency; why is everyone always in such a hurry?

Some of you may say I am being hypocritical, since I am driving above the speed limit as well. I’m OK with that. I think my approach is consistent with the belief that the occasional beer or helping of fries isn’t too bad for you, but having several beers per day or french fries on a regular basis is not good for your health. So I think there is a big difference between going 62 mph versus 75-80 mph in a 55 mph zone.

I’ve had someone tell me that when he goes well above the speed limit, it’s not really a crime. I then asked him if he slows down to the speed limit if he sees a cop on the side of the road, and he replied that of course he does. To me, that’s a clear sign that he knows he was doing something wrong. On the other hand, I never feel the need to slow down when I see a cop, and I think that makes for a much more relaxed and enjoyable driving experience.

You may argue that there are certain situations when you need to drive excessively fast, and of course there are. But running late is not a legitimate excuse – get up earlier or plan your day better!

I would be in full support if there were highway sensors that could automatically ticket anyone who goes more than (X + 7). I think such a system would eventually create a strong incentive for most people to drive at a more appropriate, and legal speed.

I am also looking forward to the advent of self-driving cars, for many reasons, but certainly one of them is the hope that such cars will have their speeds automatically controlled to maximize throughput and safety, all within the confines of the posted speed limit.

Who know, maybe I can start a movement with the hashtag #X+7.

Safe driving everyone. I can now get off my soapbox.

2 thoughts on “X plus 7

  1. This rule isn’t literally god awful and setting your own arbitrary rules only makes the road MORE dangerous, not less so.


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