Sat-nav data reveals average speeds on US motorways
28 January 2010

Americans are driving well below the speed limit on average, according to new data by Tele Atlas, the mapping unit of sat-nav maker TomTom.

Using data collected anonymously from millions of GPS systems in use on US roads, it discovered that average speeds don't top 70mph in any US state.

The fastest stretch of motorway in the US is the I-15, which runs from Utah to Nevada. The average speed of vehicles tracked on this road was 77.67mph, even though the speed limit is 80mph in places.

The area where drivers are most likely to push the limits is Mississippi, but even then the average speed was 70mph - exactly the motorway limit.

The slowest drivers came from the District of Columbia, where motorway drivers average just 46mph.

Paul A. Eisenstein

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28 January 2010

Without looking into the reasons why this is so, the report is meaningless, misleading and only encourages authorities to reduce speed limits.

Presumably the reasons for the slow recorded average speeds are due to traffic congestion and people entering and leaving the motorways, and therefore not travelling at normal speed. It would also take into account HGVs which may not be able to maintain a steady 80mph by speed limiting or due to heavy loads. I would doubt that Americans are collectively choosing to drive around in their cars at speeds lower than they are allowed to.

If they report that UK drivers are only averaging 40mph on the M25, it will just encourage the government donkeys to reduce the speed limit to 40 'since people are only driving that fast anyway, there's no need for a higher speed limit'.

28 January 2010

Having fallen foul of a US speed cop I'm not surprised. They make the RUC seem like pussycats.

28 January 2010

Entirely anecdotal but my experience of driving in Seattle means that report comes as no surprise. The contrast between driving in the UK and there was enormous - speed limits seemed to be completely respected, and even if you drove below the speed limit, I saw no aggressive driving by people trying to intimidate you into driving faster. An entirely pleasant experience. I assume it's down to much stronger law enforcement causing people to be a little more respectful. A friend who lives there claims it's because you are less inclined to behave aggressively when you know the other driver might have a hand gun in the glovebox. It was a far more pleasant experience as a pedestrian too - in a car park, cars stop for you to allow you to cross in front. Rather than the UK practice of trying to mow you down if you don't jump fast enough.

28 January 2010

[quote MrTrilby]much stronger law enforcement causing people to be a little more respectful. [/quote]

An odd behavioral trait in some part of the states is civilians taking a near vigilante attitude to the rules of the road. Years ago whilst decending a mountain road in Utah with a group of friends, all on lightweight carbon firbre cycles on high pressure slick tyres, had a great laugh overtaking multiple cars on 25mph limited approaches to hairpin corners. In the UK drivers would just shake their heads and mutter, over there they sounded their horns, swerved as we overtook and shouted abuse. What's more someone phoned the Sheriff who thought we were offenders serious enough to be hunted down. A word of advice, don't ever say to a deputy (even in jest) that Europeans don't do speed limits or you WILL be detained in the Moab pokey for five hours. US cops and a sense of humour? Nah ah!

28 January 2010

Hmmm - that doesn't match my (admittedly somewhat out of date - last time was in 2005) experience in the San Francisco Bay Area - where the speed limit was in general 65 mph, but speeds were often in excess of 75

28 January 2010

It doesnt match up with my very recent experience either, although to be fair i was driving in flroida so it might have been mostly tourists anyway!

There were drivers sticking to the speed limit, some under the speed limit and plenty driving well over the limit, even when passing the local authorities (admittedly i'm not sure who the equivalent of our traffic police are in the states)

28 January 2010

46mph average on the motorway?! how do they get anywhere? you think with everything being a time zone away and the sprawling suburbs americans would prime suspects for speeding!

28 January 2010

I guess rush hour traffic drags the average down - averaging 70mph is pretty good going to be honest - I bet no UK motorway gets near that kind of average speed...

28 January 2010

Interesting that my post on this topic this morning was yanked (yes, pun intended). Maybe because I was mildly questioning the standard of journalism...

To sum up, absolutely no analysis from Autocar as to exploring why this may be - traffic congestion, HGVs, people entering and leaving motorways and therefore not achieving the speed limit.

Basically just publishing a press release with no actual journalism involved.

28 January 2010

No posts were pulled as such - there were two duplicate threads due to a system error, and one was deleted. Just to be clear, we haven't pulled any posts that criticise Autocar to my knowledge, and we wouldn't.

Jim Holder

Editorial Director, Autocar


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