So, we've had threads on the Autobahn, on how speed limits are thoroughly useless, physics, overly centralized regulation here in the states, and a lack of respect for the rule of law.
Ok. So, to address Abe_Frohman's claim from the first story that the speed limit for a young man on a ZX12 and an Old Geezer (tm) in a generic Oldsmobuick shouldn't be the same, (presumeably) because the young man has better reaction times, vision, etc than the Old Guy.
In general, I agree. But I don't really think it should be based on age. I think it would be better to base "driver class" (a concept I'll get into more in a minute) on actual tested ability and skill. I mean, Mario Andretti is 63, but he'll probably still be capable of piloting a vehicle at high speeds in another 20 years. And there are almost certainly 20 year olds who are just too slow in the head to handle driving at such high rates of speed.
The contention that speed limits are totally useless is two pronged. First is the half that observes the 75 mph mandated limit no matter how flat, straight, and even the road is. On the other hand, there are spots in CA (I'm thinking of 46 and 58, here) where when the speed limit says 15, they really mean it. Once again, someone with a higher demonstrated skill level, and adequate equipment, (I can take those roads a lot faster even on my Warrior than I could in the pickup truck) should be allowed to go faster. But someone (such as our theoretical 85 year old) should be restricted to speeds that his aging brain can process information at.
Disrespect for the rule of law: It's not so much a disrepect for the general rule of law, as a disrespect for unreasonable rule of law. I-5 in CA, I-80 in NV, I-40 in AZ, for example, being limited to 75 mph for no good reason. (Hell, 70 in CA. I am somehow unconvinced that my car becomes 5 mph less safe to drive when I hit the CA border on I-40...) These are all roads which could safely handle much higher speeds. I consider a central imposition of a maximum speed limit irrespective of circumstance to be unreasonable rule of law. I mean, we'd all be *really* safe if the speed limit was 25 mph...
The Autobahn: the Autobahn has the advantage of having been designed specifically with the purpose of high speed driving in mind. It is well suited to high speed traffic, and moreover, everyone who drives on it is aware of the fact that some portion of the other traffic is likely to be going faster than they are, so (I expect) they pay a bit more attention. If you're doing 150 on a road where most people expect to see 75 mph (or so) traffic, you're a vastly unexpected anomaly that people aren't prepared to deal with.
I suggest a system of graduated licenses based on demonstrated ability. I don't think (and I'm sure if y'all disagree, you'll let me know...) that it is unreasonable to require race car (or bike) training for people who are looking to recieve an unrestricted license for the public roads. In fact, it might be easier to just accept AMA or FIA racing certification as the licensing process for your 150MPH rated super license. Conversely, if your demonstrated reflex timing and event processing abilities are really low, you might be limited to driving on city streets, with no freeway access at all. (Sorry Bobby, you just don't think fast enough to be in charge of 2 tons of steel at 75 mph...)
I'd also really like to see a highway (ideally a set of them) connecting LA and NYC which is forbidden to truck traffic, at least 3 lanes in each direction, with lane based speed limits. Say, 100 for the right lane, 125 for the middle lane, and unrestricted for the left lane.
Of course, the Libertarian in me quails at the thought of creating another centralized authority to oversee the whole thing. Anyway, it's just a thought.