Measuring What We Can’t Do

Almost every new car I test drive – even the humblest hybrid – has a speedometer that reads to at least 120 mph.

140 is common; 160 not unusual. Some cars have speedometers that read to 180 or even 200 MPH

And some of those are capable of pegging them.

Few ever do.

It would be interesting to know how many cars are ever driven faster than 100 MPH. And also how many ever see 130 – even briefly. My bet is maybe one out of ten and then only for a brief moment of furtive lawlessness.

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First, of course, it is extraordinarily dangerous to drive that fast.

Not the speed, per se. In a modern car, 100 MPH is safer than 70 was in a 1960s-era car. Whether the measure is braking distances, lateral grip, susceptibility to loss of control or any other such. Many current year cars will brake – and come to a complete, perfectly controlled stop – entirely on their own, without the person behind the wheel needing to so much as scream . . . if the mighty bright sensors and computer Oz which control the thing detect an emergency.

Technology has advanced. Kind of like the way we don’t have to carry around brick phones anymore.

But speed laws have remained static. It’s analogous to carrying around a brick phone just because.

And being punished if you’re caught with a modern sail fawn.

Violating archaic speed laws is what’s dangerous.

To drive even 100 MPH in most states is to risk a felony stop at gunpoint and the sure certainty of a “reckless driving” ticket that will take an expensive lawyer to plead down to something that merely involves handing over large sums of money, as opposed to your driving “privileges” (as the government styles what used to be our right to travel) and, very possibility, your liberty. In most states, a “reckless driving” conviction carries with it the possibility of time in Hotel Graybar. Though that is usually deferred or otherwise held in abeyance, it remains a serious threat nonetheless.

Thirty days in the Hotel is pretty much a life sentence for most people with jobs. Tell your boss you’ll be in jail for the next month and it’s likely you will not have a job upon your release.

Regardless, the best case is you will be made to pay a very large sum of money – both to the government and its sister operation, the insurance mafia. A “reckless driving” conviction on your driver’s record – which the mafia has ready access to, notwithstanding it being your (phlegmy cough) private information. The government and the insurance mafia are like a WWF tag team – with you as the object of their suplexes and camel clutches.

This will go on for a minimum of three years – the amount of time a conviction remains held against you, for purposes of financially raping you.

Even an ordinary “speeding” ticket – 78 in a 70, for instance – will cost you at least $100-something bucks up front plus whatever the mafia decides to surcharge you. Get two or three such and it gets into money.

This accounts for the slowness of very fast modern cars. It’s not their fault. They are like a champion race horse ridden by a beaten jockey. If he doesn’t kick the horse in the ribs, the horse will probably just stand there.

You know, the way most modern cars do when the light goes green.

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