[Author Prev][Author Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Author Index][Thread Index]

Funny Dave Barry Article

It's an old one, but a good one, with some marginal Audi-ish content.

Hairy green toads from Mars made Dave Barry say:
>     Highways' Outer Limits
>     by Dave Barry
>     January 7, 1996
>     from the Boston Sunday Globe
>     reprinted without permission
>     Recently, the federal government, as part of its ongoing effort to
>     become part of the same solar system as the rest of us, decided to
>     eliminate the National Pretend Speed Limit.  As you are aware, for many
>     years, the National Pretend Speed Limit was 55 miles per hour (metric
>     equivalent: 378 kilograms per hectare). This limit was established
>     during the energy crisis, when America went through a scary gasoline
>     shortage caused by the fact that for about six straight months,
>     everybody in America spent every waking moment purchasing gasoline.
>     Remember? We all basically went insane. The instant the car's fuel
>     gauge got down to 15/16 of a tank, we raced to a service station and
>     spent a couple of hours waiting in line with hundreds of other
>     gasoline-obsessed Americans. It's still a mystery why we did this.
>     Maybe some kind of brain-damaging chemical got in our national water
>     supply, because around the same time, everybody also got into disco.
>        So, anyway, the energy crisis came to the attention of the federal
>     government, which, swinging into action as only our federal government
>     can, told everybody to get swine-flu shots.
>        No, wait, that was an other crisis. What the federal government did
>     in this particular crisis was declare, in 1974, a National Pretend
>     Speed Limit of 55. This has been strictly observed everywhere except on
>     the actual roads, where the *real* speed limit - the one actually
>     enforced by the police  is a secret, unposted number ranging between 63
>     and 78, unless an individual police officer does not care for the way
>     you look, in which case the speed limit is zero.
>        The result is that, for more than 20 years, virtually everybody in
>     the United States has been violating the speed limit except for Ralph
>     Nader and elderly people wearing hats. (This system is similar to the
>     one used in foreign countries such as Italy, where the government puts
>     strict-looking speed limit signs everywhere, but nobody ever sees them
>     because light does not travel fast enough to catch the Italian
>     drivers.)
>        So, finally, our government, facing reality, has decided to abolish
>     the National Pretend Speed Limit and let individual states decide how
>     fast drivers can go. The most interesting response so far has come from
>     the extremely rural state of Montana (official motto: "Moo"), which
>     announced that there would be *no* speed limit during daylight hours. I
>     was frankly amazed when I read this in the newspaper. I mean, I am not
>     a legal scholar, but to me, no speed limit means that, theoretically,
>     you can go 400 miles per hour, right?
>        If that were true, Montana would immediately become an extremely
>     popular destination for your average guy driver on vacation with his
>     family, because guys like to cover a tremendous amount of ground. A guy
>     in vacation-driving mode prefers not to stop the car at all except in
>     the case of a bursting appendix, and even then he's likely to say, "Can
>     you hold it a little longer? We're only 157 miles from Leech World."
>     So, if there really were no speed limit, a vacationing guy with the
>     right kind of car - by which I mean the kind of car that has to be
>     stopped with a parachute - could cover all of Montana in approximately
>     an hour.
>        In an effort to check this out, I called Montana and spoke with
>     Steve Barry, deputy chief of the Montana Highway Patrol. "Can people
>     drive 400 miles per hour up there?" I asked.
>        He told me that, in all honesty, the answer was no. He said that
>     while there was "no theoretical upper speed limit," there was a
>     practical one, determined by police officers in the field, based on
>     factors such as traffic density, road conditions, and type of vehicle.
>     So I asked him: What if all the conditions were perfect? What would be
>     the absolute fastest you could legally go? What is the *real* Montana
>     speed limit? Barry answered that, if you pinned him down, his estimate
>     would be around 100 miles per hour. "At that point," he said, "the
>     majority of the citizens at large would say that's too fast for
>     conditions out here."
>        So, you vacationing guys are going to have to budget *four* hours
>     for Montana. But this is still an improvement, and I'd like to see
>     other areas of the country make a similar effort to have realistic
>     traffic laws. For example, right now, the legal speed limit in down
>     town Manhattan is 30. This is absurd. This is the speed limit that
>     Manhattan drivers observe on the *sidewalk*. On the streets of
>     Manhattan, the actual observed speed limits are as follows:
>        TRAVELING UPTOWN OR DOWNTOWN: 125 miles per hour, unless you have a
>     chance to hit a pedestrian, in which case you may go 150.
>        TRAVELING ACROSS TOWN: Nobody has ever successfully traveled across
>     Manhattan in a motor vehicle.
>        I'd also like to see speed limits that take into account what song
>     you're listening to on the radio. Ideally, if a police officer pulled
>     you over for doing, say, 95 miles per hour in a 75 zone, and you could
>     prove to him that you were listening to the Isley Brothers' version of
>     "Twist and Shout," he would not only have to let you off, he would also
>     be required, by law, to sing along with you. It's something for all of
>     us to look forward to as our ever evolving nation heads toward the 21st
>     century, traveling *way* too fast for conditions.


Andrew L. Duane (JOT-7)			duane@zk3.dec.com
Digital Equipment Corporation		(603)-881-1294
110 Spit Brook Road
M/S ZKO3-3/U14
Nashua, NH    03062-2698

Only my cat shares my opinions, and she prefers Tom Lehrer.