Judge Decrees: Drivers “Can’t Be Trusted” to Monitor Their Own Speed.

Written by Gregory Monte.

“… less competent drivers need this kind of regulation; they cannot be trusted to choose an appropriate speed for themselves because they lack the skills to make a prudent choice.”

Pennsylvania Superior Court Justice, Com. v. Kondor, 651 A. 2d 1135 (1994)


With all due respect to his “honor,” now I fully understand why they call judicial decisions “opinions.”

Maybe it’s just my Libertarian streak, but that opening quote infuriates me.  I imagine that his “honor” doesn’t consider himself a member of the “less competent drivers” category, and that he can “be trusted … to make a prudent choice” when it comes to speed.

But in any case, his “opinion” flies in the face of personal experience and common sense.

My Experience

Because I live 100 miles away from my place of employment, I spend close to 20 hours a week commuting.  I drive on a combination of 3-lane, 2-lane and single lane roads to and from my home.  The speed limits run from 65mph all the way down to 15mph.  For the past 12 years (having easily observed several hundred thousand cars) I can say with 100% certainty that most drivers do not abide by the speed limits set by the state.  Instead, they use their own judgement given the roadway conditions on any given day.

How is it, then, that all of these drivers (who the judge says “lack the skills to make a prudent choice” when it comes to monitoring and controlling the speed of their cars) manage to get to their destinations safely 99.99+% of the time?

I do observe accidents maybe 3-4 times a month, but if what the judge claims is true, why don’t I see them occurring 3-4 times a day?

Anarchy on the Roadways?

Dictionary.com defines anarchy as follows:

Anarchy, noun

  1. a state of society without government or law.
  2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control
  3. lack of obedience to an authority; insubordination
  4. confusion and disorder

Anarchy sure sounds like a bad thing, doesn’t it?

But think a bit about what happens on a typical highway in the United States.  Are the police monitoring it 24-7? 

Of course not. 

And yet … the traffic flows freely. 

As a general rule, people signal when changing lanes, brake when the driver in front brakes, slow down in inclement weather, turn off their high beams when another car approaches in the opposite direction, stop at red lights, look both ways when crossing an intersection to make sure no cars are approaching, obey school bus lights when children are being picked up.

You get the picture.

Of course, there are laws which govern these actions, but 99.99% of the time, no one is there to enforce them. Police officers cannot be everywhere at all times.

So, why on earth would the vast majority of drivers act in this fashion in the absence of government coercion?  As suggested by the definition of anarchy, why is there not total disorder “due to the absence of government control?”  Why isn’t “confusion and disorder” rampant on the highway system in our country?

Self-Interest Trumps the Law

The judge in Commonwealth v. Kondor doesn’t seem to understand the reality of life on the road.  He doesn’t get that the vast majority of people act prudently, not because they fear the police, but because they care if they or their loved ones live or die.  In essence, selfishness is enough to create safe roads – police issuing traffic tickets has nothing to do with it.

Is it really any wonder that the thousands upon thousands of individuals (each making decisions beneficial to their safety and lives) are able to get to their varying destinations without anyone directly telling them what to do or how to drive?

If you want to see real “anarchy” on the roads, imagine a world where a police officer is stationed every ½ mile issuing citations for speeding.

As The Who would say, traffic would back up for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles ….

The bottom line is that the government has established the basic rules of the road – drive on the right, head lights on at night, rear brake lights, use of turn signals, etc.  Millions of drivers abide by these rules, the traffic flows, and 99.99% of them get to their destination in one piece.

We don’t need a Nanny State to micromanage our driving behavior.


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