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Joel and Amy’s Blog

Speed Limit Driving

March 26th, 2008 Posted in General

I’ve been performing a little experiment the last week… I’ve been driving the speed limit to work each morning.  From my front door to the office, I’ve been keeping my speed within 5 mph of the speed limit according to my speedometer.

I like speed… I enjoy going fast… and I fancy myself quite efficient in my typically extra-legal trips to and from work each day.  So my observations over the last week have shifted my driving paradigm a bit.

Indianapolis is renowned for one thing in particular, the Indianapolis 500.  The Indy 500 is a significant cultural event in Indianapolis and many aspects of our entire year revolve around this event, the world’s largest single-day sporting event.  Residents consider the I-465 loop around Indy an extension of the Speedway and their driving reflects that.  Along the west side of Indy, site of my daily commute and the Speedway, I-465 is comprised of 3 travel lanes in either direction.  Typically a traveler of the left lane or the center lane myself, I’ve had nicknames that encapsulate the spirit of the three travel lanes:

  • The left lane, also known as My Lane or The Fast Lane.  Drivers in this lane are serious about their destination… those sticking to the speed limit need not apply.  Tractor-trailers are rarely seen in this lane.
  • The center lane, also known as The Extra Lane.  This lane is for use when someone from That Lane happens to make their way into The Fast Lane and you need to pass them.  It’s also handy for when The Fast Lane is running a little too hot.  Unfortunately, tractor-trailers seem to flourish in this lane.
  • The right lane, also known as That Lane.  This is the catchall lane… left there for those merging into highway traffic and for the lowest common denominators of highway traffic.
  • I’ve made several observations of these lanes over the last week and my nicknames have changed:

  • First of all, with my self-imposed speed limit I’ve only been able to drive in the right lane for any duration of time.  This lane typically travels anywhere from 5-10 mph over the speed limit… never the speed limit itself during commuter time.  I’ve re-christened this lane The Normal Lane.  Other than having to juggle in and out of this lane to avoid merging traffic, this lane doesn’t seem so bad now.
  • The center lane is where I go to avoid merging traffic and it is very hard – nay impossible! – to stick within 5 mph of the speed limit in this lane.  You get pushed around in this lane quite a bit.  This lane is now The Impatient Lane.  Seems like whenever I need to use this lane those behind me get quite impatient.  This lane sees speeds from 10-20 mph in excess of the speed limit.
  • Finally, there’s The Bait Lane.  This is the only lane the cops ever care about… and for good reason.  Access to this lane requires an excess of 20 mph over the speed limit… and that’s just to get in!  Regular users of this lane are typically driving 80 mph and I-465 is a 55 mph zone.
  • A few more miscellaneous observations:

  • Construction or work zone speed limits seem to have very little effect.
  • Indy drivers have high-speed, close-quarters driving down to a science… but if you introduce rain or snow, all driving prowess disappears.
  • Cops will sit on the inside shoulder and just flag you down as you approach to pull over for a ticket… I’ve seen people waiting in line for their ticket at these spots.
  • Traveling within the speed limit has lengthened my trip to work by about 5 minutes… though it hasn’t seemed to affect my trip home.
  • I think I’m going to keep this experiment going for one more week.  I’ve noticed the drive elicits a lot less stress than before… but also a lot more anxiety (from the need to occasionally use The Impatient Lane.  I’m not sure how I’m going to end the experiment… jump right back into use of The Bait Lane or slowly drift back into those habits.  This all started with the conviction that speeding is breaking the law and the desire to stop on that account… how long that conviction will last I’m not sure.

    1. 3 Responses to “Speed Limit Driving”

    2. By Sarah on Mar 27, 2008

      You should compare your gas usage as well. “They” say you can save a lot of gas going 50-55 instead of 70-75. I’ve been thinking about that lately, but the freeways around here make it hard to be patient.

    3. By Joel on Mar 30, 2008

      My gas mileage increased ever so slightly. When I first bought this car two years ago I did a lot of trials to find the best gas mileage. What I found was that being easy on the throttle in city driving greatly helps my gas mileage whereas cruising at 55 mph or 75 mph on the highway offers minimal change.

    4. By Sarah on Mar 31, 2008

      Guess that makes sense. But it’s so much fun to accelerate and run through the gears… :)

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