A five-year old Cleveland boy was killed in a simply awful hit-and-run crash last Friday. Now, there are calls to change the speed limit in Cleveland to 20 MPH and to rigorously enforce it to stop hit-and-run. The problem is that speed limits don't cause hit-and-run accidents, terrible pieces of human garbage do.
A lower speed limit and the rigorous enforcement of that speed limit might slow down some traffic and lengthen commutes, but it will not stop hit-and-run crime.
Why not? Because a lower speed limit will not suddenly make awful people into good people. Even a person going 20 MPH instead of 30 MPH can hit a student, kill them, and then drive off. The difference in the speed limit will not impact the morality of a person behind the wheel.
It goes like this: If you hit someone with a car in an accident, you get the fuck out of your car, call 911, and see how you can help with what you caused. If you hit someone with a car in an accident and drive away, you're a truly awful piece of human garbage.
And since when do truly awful people follow the law?
No matter what a speed limit is in a city, and no matter how it's enforced, it will be broken. I really don't see any way around that. In Brooklyn, where speed limits don't really exceed 30 MPH, about 88 percent of drivers on the roads at any time are speeding. First, holy crap. Second, if they lower the speed limit further, that won't mean that the traffic will be slowed, it probably means that the percentage of people who are speeding will just increase.
A person who hits someone, kills them, and then runs has committed murder. Lowering the speed limit will have the same impact on people that would do this that more stringent gun laws have on shooters: They might consider their actions a little more, but those that would speed and hit someone without caring would still be out there, just like the people that want to murder will find another way to get a gun.
If you want to end hit-and-run, you have to totally get rid of cars, which just won't happen. There's also no reasonable way to institute some sort of psychological test to keep people like this from getting their license. Likewise, banning things like cell phones in cars won't stop people from using cell phones in cars. Just look around, people are all over there texting. And there is not necessarily a direct correlation that cell phone use equals a definite hit-and-run driver.
So what can we do to stop hit-and-run? Unfortunately, most of the onus to preventing hit-and-run pedestrian injuries falls on the pedestrian themselves, not the driver. Cars are weapons. They're 4,000 pound (give or take 2,000 pounds), fuel filled bombs that we take from place to place. A human has no shot against a moving car (duh). So, before you cross a street, take out your earbuds, get off your cellphone, and look around. When you're waiting to cross a street, don't just wander out in the road for no reason. It's all about keeping your wits about yourself. Don't just assume that a car is going to stop because you step into the street.
But the "speed kills" myth is just that, a myth. It's the responsibility of the driver to make sure that they don't hit anyone on the road. And there are people out there that just don't care for fellow human life. And until we get those people out from behind the wheel, we'll still, unfortunately, have hit-and-run tragedies.
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