Are you the Tortoise or the Hare?
From a pure mathematical perspective, an extra 10 mph might seem like you are "making good time," but the numbers show it doesn't save as much as you think. For an average 20-mile commute, consisting of about 4 miles of city traffic and 16 miles of highway, exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph only gains 3 Vz minutes. If you are really pushing it and driving 20 mph over the speed limit, the time difference is only 6 x/z minutes, and this assumes light traffic without any stoplights. If traffic is heavy, or you are driving on a road with multiple stoplights, it is nearly impossible to maintain 10 mph or more above the average traffic speed. Driving aggressively in these conditions becomes much more dangerous while yielding even less of a time advantage.
On the other hand, the average time it takes for a police officer to write you a really expensive traffic citation is about 10 to 15 minutes. This pretty much negates any time advantage you would have gained by driving aggressively in the first place. Additionally, if you were really pushing it, you might get to spend a few extra hours of your time showing up in court and your insurance company will be perfectly happy to charge you significantly higher insurance premiums. If your aggressive driving results in a fender bender, it will take about an hour to call the police, exchange insurance information, and get back on the road--assuming you are still able to drive the car. Then you will have the long process of paying your fines, dealing with insurance claims, and getting your car repaired. Worst case, driving aggressively can get you killed or cause you to be responsible for someone else's death.
As the fall and winter months approach, take a minute to assess your daily commute and ask yourself: Do I have the right gear, plan and skills?
--How does my particular vehicle perform in fall and winter weather?
--Do I have adequate tires and windshield wipers?
--Am I "dressed to egress" if I am involved in an accident or I get a flat tire?
--How long does my commute normally take?
--How much time will adverse weather add to my commute?
--When was the last time I drove in snow and ice?
--Is three to five minutes really worth the risk?
The fall and winter months also bring the holidays, along with the inevitable road trips to visit friends and family. Before hitting the road, take another minute to assess the external stressors that might cause you to become the hare and drive outside of your limits. Plan ahead, slow it down and arrive safely. You are a valued member of the ACC team and we need you.
BY COL. STEVEN G. OWEN