Sometimes I can’t help but chuckle over the lengths to which law enforcement is willing to go in an attempt to get us drivers to comply with their wishes – also known as laws. I recently read a newspaper article that reported that Fort Lauderdale is trying to accommodate the concerns of some of its citizens about speeding on Andrews Avenue. How is the city going to do this? Why, by creating an optical illusion, of course. This optical illusion manifests itself in the form of white marks, referred to as optical speed bars, that are painted on the roadway in decreasing degrees. The idea behind the illusion is that because the marks get increasing closer together, drivers will think that they are driving too fast and, therefore, slow down. The city actually hired engineers to look into the possibility of whether or not this would, in fact, work to reduce speeders in the area. There is little doubt that officials used funds obtained from the generation of fines garnered from traffic tickets issued to unsuspecting drivers. Although the city painted the roadway last fall, these traffic engineers have not yet begun to monitor how fast drivers are going to see if they have adjusted their driving speeds in that area since the beginning of the experiment. I may not be a traffic engineer, but this just sounds foolish to me. Apparently, this is an attempt to reach speeders subliminally. As a driver myself, however, if I think I am going too fast, I check my speedometer. If it shows I am traveling at a safe speed, I am not going to be too concerned with whatever may be painted on the road.
Apparently the highway administration has conducted similar tests previously because it states that speed bars tend to be most effective on roadways that have upcoming curves and drivers need to slow down to safely negotiate those curves. Such is the case with Andrew Avenue which currently has a speed limit of 35 mph and adjoins downtown to the ‘burbs. This commute ensures a large volume of traffic with more than 20,000 motorists using this stretch of road daily. Surely, the volume of traffic should be as much of a concern to local residents as whether or not drivers proceed too quickly. The article continued on to offer up some rather confusing information by stating that prior to installing this optical illusion, the average speed traveled was 36 mph, only 1 mph over the posted speed limit. Yet it goes on to state that the 85th percentile speed was 42 mph. This is the national standard for setting speed limits, which would indicate that 35 mph is 7 mph below where the speed limit should actually be set. Am I the only one who hears the loud sucking noise being created by the draining of money from the city coffers for a silly experiment that only confirms that the city’s got it wrong? I can’t seem to say it loud enough or long enough – speeding tickets are just a way to keep lining the pockets of our state and local governments. In this particular instance, the city piddled away money on an experiment which seems to disprove their idea of a safe travel speed for this stretch of road. I am sure, however, that they will not be refunding any fines drivers may have received or have yet to receive for driving at a safe and prudent speed through this area.