The speed limit: Everyone’s favorite law to break

A very recent “encounter” with another driver caused me to think about speed limits and road rage. This week we’ll discuss speed limits and next week, [gulp], road rage.

The Bible instructs Christians that they should be good citizens and adhere to the (godly) laws of the land.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” – Romans 13:1-2

Speed limits are mandated on public highways to promote travel safety. In 1974, President Richard Nixon signed a bill which made 55 MPH the speed limit national standard. However, big improvements have been made in highway and automobile design since then, so what was deemed the safe limit of automobile speed 48 years ago is not necessarily valid anymore.

Here in the Greater Rochester area, just about all of the expressways have a posted 55 MPH speed limit (except for designated stretches of I-390 and I-490 where the limit is 65 MPH). However, the reality is that extremely few drivers obey the 55 MPH limit. From my own observations, I would say most cars travel around 60-62 MPH on 55 MPH posted stretches.* The consensus is traffic police will allow 5-7 mph over the limit without pulling a driver over. Obviously, traffic/transportation officials are aware that most drivers exceed the speed limit, but they won’t raise the limit to the demonstrated travel speed because drivers would see that as leeway to go even faster.

How does this relate to the Christian driving a car on a posted 55 MPH speed limit highway? Is it a sin to defy the government mandated speed limit? I remember an instructor telling our driving class fifty years ago that drivers should follow the general speed of traffic. In other words, don’t go too slow and don’t go too fast relative to the other cars. A driver strictly adhering to the posted 55 MPH speed limit is going to result in other cars coming up quickly on the slower moving vehicle. There will be frustration, anger, and recklessness as drivers pass the slower car.

Perhaps in the case of the 55 MPH speed limit, breaking the law and driving with the flow of traffic is showing more regard for overall safety than a driver who scrupulously adheres to the posted (but largely ignored) speed limit.

What are your thoughts? Is it a sin to exceed the traffic speed limit?

Next week: Road rager on my bumper!

*In the course of writing this post, I asked my wife what she thought the average speed of traffic was on the area’s 55 MPH-posted interstates and she said 70 MPH and insisted she was correct. That number is not even close to being accurate and is an example of how some drivers do not monitor their speedometer.

31 thoughts on “The speed limit: Everyone’s favorite law to break

  1. Interesting question! Normally (key word), I try to stay within the posted speed limits but even here in Canada, I am in the minority. However (pause for effect), I have and do at times “go with the flow” so as to maintain traffic efficiency. Yes, I came up with that particular “wording” myself! I would say that going over the posted speed limit is a sin because we are to obey the authorities. In my defence I would note that sometimes maintaining the speed limit can actually cause accidents when the “normal flow” is going 5-7 miles per hour over the speed limit, so it is possible that safety concerns could be a factor. Excessive speeds over the speed limit (above and beyond the 5-7 miles per hour “norm”) are clear violations and very rarely do I exceed them. Key words again would be “very rarely”, as in not always. Color me “semi guilty as charged”! Blessings! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol. Thanks, Bruce. I appreciate your weighing in and your good humor to boot!
      It’s funny the things we remember and how I’ve hung on to the memory of that driving instructor from 50 years ago telling us to “go with the flow” of traffic in the interest of safety.
      It’s a bit of a stretch, but while writing this post, I also thought of how religious scrupulosity can often miss the mark of what God is calling us to do.


  2. In the uk the speed limit for dual carriageways and motorways is 70mph and in built up areas it is 30mph. I think these are sensible limits and wouldn’t go beyond them but, at the same time, I think we have to use common sense about not going too slow. That can cause as many accidents as speeding. Am I off the hook? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lesley, thanks for the UK perspective. I think 70 MPH would be more realistic for our Rochester expressways than 55 mph. I thought for sure your speed limits would be in km/h rather than mph.
      RE: Am I off the hook?
      You pass until the next test!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I’m feeling better, but still coughing a bit. Corinne is in the thick of it. Hope you’re having a good weekend. How is your paper coming?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Glad you got that paper done! And happy for you for the Eagles win. I’m currently watching the Chargers game. They’ve made a game of it, but the Bolts’ O-line and zero-D are pitiful.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Good discussion! I admit this is something I break; some who know me in my church say that if I wasn’t a pastor with an old car, I probably be the fastest speed demon in our church.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For some reason I’ve always driven a bit on the slow side while my wife drives faster. If I’m a passenger and my wife is driving I get nervous because she does not pay attention to the speedometer, constantly driving over the speed limit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Tom! Oh my gosh, you gave me my morning chuckle with your wife’s response! Thank you! Arizona…lots of insane people on roads. I just pull over if I can to let them go about their business. I’m retired and they may have things to do, places to go, people to see. Ha Happy day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marla! Ha! My wife is a fast driver and pays no attention to the speedometer, hence her very inaccurate answer.
      Getting out of the road-ragers way is good advice that I could have used last week.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Billy is a safe driver and tries to keep the speed limit, but he goes with the flow when necessary for safety. I don’t drive. My parents never had a car. Nor did certain others in my family. We lived in NY and we either walked or traveled by bus and subway. It was a different life. I liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Cathy! I generally go with the flow of traffic on expressways, but travel the speed limit on non-expressway roads.
      RE: never had a car
      This is a pet peeve topic of mine. My wife and I have visited Europe many times and they are far ahead of the U.S. with mass transportation – trains, trolleys, busses – made possible by residential homes being better integrated into urban centers. The U.S. went down the wrong path beginning in the 1950s with subsidized interstate highways and suburban sprawl.

      Liked by 1 person

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