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The Most Popular Safety Laws (That Don’t Work)

Cracked is saying what I’ve said all along–safety laws are for pussies with no fire in their bellies. At least I think that’s what they’re saying.

Really, is it ever possible to be too safe? Especially when it’s our children at stake? Actually, yes. Especially when the rule or law intended to make us safe is so poorly thought-out that it either does nothing but suck up public money, or creates a ripple effect of unintended side effects.

We’re talking about things like…

#5. Speed Limits

The Idea:

Speeding is a major cause behind many fatal accidents, so it must also be true that mandating lower speed limits will make us all safer, right? Like how after marijuana was made illegal, you could hardly find anybody smoking the stuff.

It was back in 1974 that the federal government passed the National Maximum Speed Limit Law in the USA, slowing America down to a creeping 55 miles per hour. The main reason behind the law was to lower gas consumption, but President Nixon promised us it would make our streets safer as well.

A joke about Richard Nixon being untrustworthy? Cracked breaks new ground in comedy once more!

Partially thanks to anti-speed limit activists like Sammy Hagar, in 1995 it was repealed. But not everyone was happy about that.

Some states and many cities still have their highway speed limits set at or near the ’74 lows, and a lot of people support bringing the ’74 law back into effect before every man, woman and child in the country finds themselves living in the horrifying universe of 2 Fast 2 Furious.

The future.

But There’s a Problem…

After the National speed limit was repealed, the state of Montana removed all non-urban speed limits in their state.

A few years later, engineers working with the state decided to venture out to see just what kind of post-apocalyptic Death Race wasteland their lawless state had produced. What they found was that, you guessed it, on the roads where they removed the speed limits, fatalities didn’t go up at all.

Proponents of the national law still argue that traffic fatalities nationwide did drop during the national speed limit’s lifetime. Buzz-killing critics of the law point out that no, no they didn’t.

Why Doesn’t it Work?

Because, and this surprised the hell out of us, people aren’t completely retarded. As it turns out, people tend to drive at speeds they feel comfortable driving. Yes, there are reckless madmen out there, but they’re not going to obey a couple of digits on a sign anyway.

It just becomes a make-work project for traffic cops.

By the way, even worse than speed limits are speed bumps, the irritating, jarring humps they put in parking lots and such, intended to physically force drivers to slow down and make their CD players skip. Not only do those things not prevent accidents, but they keep ambulances from getting to emergencies, which is exactly the sort of thing you don’t want happening when years of bacon sundaes and cookie-dough sandwiches finally catch up with you.

The above link references a study in Boulder, Colorado that found speed bumps kill as many as 85 people for every one life they save. Holy shit! We think landmines have a better ratio.

More Popular Safety Laws (That Don’t Work) at Cracked.