Fair Traffic Laws
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SURVEY RESULTS

SURVEY DESIGN

The purpose of this survey is not to determine whether or not motorists obey traffic regulations. Rather, it was designed to discover how important motorists believe it is that certain traffic regulations should be obeyed.

Therefore, wording in the questions directs respondents to consider how important it is that others obey these traffic regulations. (See Traffic Regulation Compliance Survey on the Home Page).

To avoid biased responses, the questionnaire was placed on the home page where visitors would encounter it before reading further and were advised to complete the survey before viewing other pages.

DRIVER BEHAVIOR CONSIDERED

1. Moving over to allow passing in the left-hand lane.

2. Signaling soon enough to allow others to accommodate maneuvers.

3. Following at a safe distance.

4. Using right-hand lanes when traveling more slowly than other traffic.

5. Traveling at least as fast in the HOV lane as traffic is flowing in other lanes.

6. Obeying posted speed limits.

Data from 210 respondents are listed in the following table.

 Behavior  Very
Important
 Important Somewhat
Important 
Not
Important 
 Impedance 108 55 33 14
 Signaling 111 74 20 5
 Following Dist. 123 61 23 3
 Keeping Right 139 46 14 10
HOV Lane  74 4 117 15
 Speed Limits 36 44 72 58

        Responses were scored by multiplying the numbers in the table by weighting values shown in the following table:

IMPORTANCE
WEIGHTING VALUE
Very Important
3
 Important  2
 Somewhat Important
 1
 Not Important
 0

Plotting weighted values produces the following chart:

COMMENTARY ON SURVEY RESULTS

It is also noted that:

  • 17.1% answered that obeying posted speed limits is very important while more than half (51.4%-66.2%) answered that  compliance to the first four coordinating regulations is very important. In other words, approximately three times as many drivers consider obeying the first four coordinating regulations is very important compared to those who consider obeying posted speed limits is very important.
  •  27.6% answered that obeying posted speed limits is not important while only 1.4%-7.1% answered that obedience to the first four coordinating regulations is not important. 
  •  Additionally, 77.6%-88.1% believe it is important or very important that others comply with coordinating regulations, but fewer than half, 38.1%, believe it is important or very important that others obey posted speed limits. In other words, twice as many drivers consider obeying  coordinating regulations is important or very important compared to those who consider obeying posted speed limits is important or very important.

Note that the results for the first four coordinating regulations are similar and score approximately twice as high as the results for obeying posted speed limits. This may indicate that motorists consider that disobedience of coordinating laws is much more dangerous than driving faster than posted speed limits. 

These results must not be interpreted as evidence that motorists do not respect the importance of speed in traffic safety.
Rather, the reason for the preponderance of “Somewhat Important” and “Not Important” responses for posted speed limits may be that motorists know that most of the time it is safe to drive at speeds faster than presently posted speed limits and they do not see a problem when others do the same.

Considering the fact that the great majority of citations are written for exceeding speed limits, it appears that enforcing coordinating regulations may be a minor concern to enforcement agencies. This could indicate that present enforcement practices are seriously out-of-touch with the needs and desires of the driving public.

The next page examines the relationship between vehicle speed and safety in normal traffic and includes a rule for selecting the safest speed in free flowing traffic.

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