Speed kills, arrive alive

The title comes from the Arrive Alive project which aims to make South African roads safer. On the one hand it’s a very simple view of things, speeding itself doesn’t kill and there are places where people drive faster than in South Africa and still have fewer accidents. The problem has less to do with driving speed and driving ability and attitudes. In favour of the slogan is that higher speeds do make it harder to control the vehicle, reduce time to react and increase the severity of a crash. Most people probably understand this already, yet they still speed. In fact people can get really upset when they can’t go as fast as they want, though the irony never wears thing when you watch someone zoom past you, weaving through traffic, only to stop behind him at the first red light. So the question then is should you allow people to go past you when you are already driving at the speed limit?

Some people would say yes, just let them go on and get them away from you. If the driver is constituting a threat to you then I would agree with that view but if not then I would say do not move for them. To start with by moving aside you are allowing them to break the law and, I assume, making yourself an accomplice. Of course, no matter what people may say, you should not do something just because it’s the law, you should do it because there is a good reason to do it. Speed limits are made for a good reason though, they are there to keep people safe.

I’d say the fundamental principle behind a system of ethics would be to not harm anyone. With that said we know that letting someone speed means that they are going to be more likely to have an accident and any accident that they do have will also be more serious. This seems to me that if you allow someone to speed you will knowingly be contributing to a situation which has an increased potential to harm someone. Perhaps, since it is not you that will be directly harming anyone, you are not morally obligated to prevent them speeding but even putting that distance between us we know that we were in a position to reduce the risk of harm.

To put it another way, you wouldn’t, I hope, just walk past someone breaking into a house, or loosening the bolts on a walkway. You realise that even if you are not doing the action there is a social obligation to protect your fellow citizens. In the same vein you have a social obligation to protect your drivers. So, unless there is a clear risk to yourself I do not think you should move aside to let people speed as your actions will endanger others. In some situations this might not apply, on freeways for instance where the road is essentially straight. In residential areas though I think you should follow the speed limit.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s