"How Fast Are You Driving?"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017

A few weeks ago, I talked about safety on land.

I noted various events that could endanger people and touched on the topic of high speeds on our country roads.

I'm going to ask a question. What can law enforcement do about speeding?

In recent years, budgets for local, county and state road patrols have been slashed. It seems to me that everyone driving Huron County roadways thinks they have a free pass. Speed limits don't apply to them at all.

I'm going to suggest something. Get in your car and drive on M-53 or any of the other state roads in the county at the posted speed limit. I drive from Port Austin to Bad Axe frequently, and these are the posted limits I encounter. The limit in Port Austin's outskirts is 35 miles per hour (MPH), and leaving town it goes to 45 MPH and 55 MPH. As you approach Kinde, there is a posted sign of 50 MPH. During school hours, there are additional limits. The 50 MPH remains until well past the intersection then returns to 55.

Approaching the small town of Filion, there is a posting of 45 MPH that remains all the way through the town for some distance, then the speed returns to 55 MPH. Very few drivers slow to the posted speed of 50 in Kinde or 45 in Filion, just ask those who live there. If you do drive at those posted speeds, note the number of cars that pass you.

A few years ago, most of us were complaining about how fast the young people were driving. As I see it, the younger drivers are being joined by just about everyone behind a wheel and they are no longer the speediest. Adults are the most likely to ignore speed zones. They are so intent using their phones and texting they barely know they are on the road. Some have two phones going -- a bluetooth and another lying on the console. Ever see that? I have.

If you travel from Port Austin to Bad Axe, at posted speed limits, almost all other drivers traveling the same route will pass you. It's often amusing to get to 142 and be behind one of the vehicles that passed me as they have to stop and wait for that light.

All truck drivers speed, and we excuse them because we know they are on a tight schedule and just trying to make a living. They are the most dangerous, however, because as they bear down on you and then pass -- if you drift even a fraction, you can be wiped out.

Some senior drivers are becoming careless and as their children begin to make them aware, many are trading in their cars for the ones with the safety packages. If you buy one, be sure to look for those items, they are often standard but could be offered as options. If you have them, you could become a safer driver without waiting for a driverless car to come along.

I have learned there are gadgets you can put on your old car such as speed control, auto headlights and side view mirror enhancements. There are even accessories you can purchase in a package that include a vibrating wheel if you drift and automatic braking if you get too close to the vehicle ahead of you.

All of the new modern age car enhancements are designed to save lives and avoid serious accidents. They have a high price tag, but who wouldn't spend it to save lives?

I want to comment about saving lives on the water. Our county sheriff, Kelly Hanson, has been quoted in numerous articles and appeared in a television news broadcast pleading with kayak users to exercise care. As I submit my column, he and his deputy's dive team, many other rescue resources and numerous volunteers have been searching for a young man. He was kayaking with a friend and went in the water after trying to switch vessels. It has been learned neither man was wearing a life jacket. One was able to swim to shore, but the other did not survive.

I have participated in similar searches and it is truly heartbreaking watching the loved ones as they wait on shore hoping for a good outcome.

As a boating safety advocate and author of hundreds of articles regarding safety on the water, I wish to join Hanson in asking that all those who head offshore on our great lake to wear a life jacket, especially if they are in a small craft. That simple act can save your life.

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