Defintion Categorical Essay – runnerd4

The Array of Roadways

When considering the topic of speed limits on different types of roadways in the United States, it is important to know the characteristics that make up each type of roadway. Some types of roadways, like local roads, are designed for a relatively low rate of speed for the traffic that travels on them. Other types of roads, especially interstates, are designed for motorists to drive at relatively high rates of speed. Each of these types of roads have characteristics that influence the speed limits.

Let’s first begin with local roads. Local roads would be your average city or rural street. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation in their article “Road Function Classifications,” these local roads “provide limited mobility and are the primary access to residential areas, businesses, farms, and other local areas” and are the majority of roads in the United States. These types of roads are not built to go fast on, because a high rate of speed would put the drivers and pedestrians on and around these type of roads in danger. Also according to the U.S. Department of Transportation in their article “Road Function Classifications,” the fatality rate, at 2.13 fatalities per 100 M VMT (100 million vehicle miles travelled), of these types of roadways from speeding and non-speeding accidents is one of the highest of any type of roadway. It would seem to be pretty illogical to increase the speed limit on this category of roads, as an increase in speed limit would more than likely increase the number of driver and pedestrian fatalities.

The next category of roads is called collectors. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation in their article “Road Function Classifications,” collectors are major and minor roads that connect local roads with arterials such as highways and freeways. These roads have on average a slightly higher speed limit than local roads. These roads have proven to be dangerous, as the U.S. Department of Transportation states that they have the highest overall fatality rate of any type of road, at 2.17 per 100 M VMT. The danger of this type of roadway makes it clear that the speed limit on these types of roads does not need to be increased. An increase in the speed limit on these roads would more than likely result in a spike of the fatality rate. 

These first two categories of roads seem to fit into one big category; roads that the speed limit should never be increased on. These types of roads generally include multiple intersections. According to the National Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, approximately 40% of all accidents in the year 2007 were intersection or intersection-related crashes. This high percentage makes it clear that roads with many intersections should not have the speed limit increased as all it would do is lead to more red lights and stop signs ran, and less vigilance in the intersections. This carelessness would lead to a higher number of accidents. 

The next category of roads is arterial roads such as highways and freeways. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation in their article “Road Function Classifications,” these roads connect major cities and industrial areas at a higher rate of speed than local roads and connectors. These are your average four to eight-lane highways that go through one state, such as New Jersey’s Route 55, connecting route 42 to Philadelphia to route 47 in Maurice River Township. These roads are designed to be traveled on at a higher rate of speed to help drivers get from one major area to another as quickly as possible. The 1999 study in the U.S. D.O.T.’s article “Road Function Classifications,” shows that the fatality rate of arterials has the second-lowest fatality rate of any type of road at 1.48 fatalities per 100 M VMT. Increasing the speed limit on a road like this with an already high rate of speed and a lower fatality rate seems much more reasonable than on the local and connector roads.

The final category of roads is interstates. Interstates are large arterial roads that connect two or more states. An example of an interstate is I-95, stretching from northern Maine to southern Florida. According to the U.S. Departement of Transportation in their article “Road Function Classifications,” an interstate has the “highest level of mobility and the highest speeds over the longest uninterrupted distance”. These highways are generally travelled by people who are going between two or more states. The high level of mobility makes interstates the safest type of roads compared to all other types of roads and allows them to travel at much faster speeds than local roads or collectors. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation in their article “Road Function Classifications,” the fatality rate on interstates is 0.87 fatalities per 100 M VMT. This number is lower than half the rate of collector and local roads. Raising the speed limit on interstate highways also seems pretty reasonable when considering the fatality statistics.

The last two roads discussed also seem to fit into another category, roads that someday could have the speed limit increased on. Highways and interstates generally do not have many intersections and sometimes do not have any at all. This lack of intersections makes travelling at higher speeds safer. Also, arterial roads, especially interstates, have long stretches of straight road. Increasing the speed limit in these areas would more than likely help the traffic to move quicker and more seamlessly. 

The main topic to focus on when considering raising speed limits is if it would be safe to do so. On local and collector roads, the high fatality rate makes it clear that it would not be safe to do so. A few characteristics of these roads such as low mobility and multiple intersections differentiate them from arterials. Unlike local and collector roads, arterials have high mobility and very few to no intersections. On arterial roads, the relatively low fatality rate makes raising the speed limit seem more reasonable.

References

Intersection Safety Issue Briefs. (2009, November). Retrieved October 09, 2020, from https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/other_topics/fhwasa10005/brief_2.cfm

U.S Department of Transportation. (2000, November). Road Function Classifications. Retrieved October 9, 2020, from https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/speedmgt/data_facts/docs/rd_func_class_1_42.pdf

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5 Responses to Defintion Categorical Essay – runnerd4

  1. davidbdale says:

    Runner, it’s never too early to make a reader care.

    When considering the topic of speed limits on different types of roadways in the United States, it is important to know the characteristics that make up each type of roadway. Some types of roadways, like local roads, are designed for a relatively low rate of speed for the traffic that travels on them. Other types of roads, especially interstates, are designed for motorists to drive at relatively high rates of speed. Each of these types of roads have characteristics that influence the speed limits.

    So far, I have no reason to care what factors of what roads determine what speeds are recommended for those roads. Unless I am your beloved professor, who cares a great deal about your success, I am unlikely to continue past the first paragraph. You have failed to compel anyone else’s attention.

    Your beloved professor is not your ideal audience, but you must have one. Who is it? Will your reader recognize herself in your Introduction, feel instantly engaged, and read on with a high sense of obligation to consider the wisdom of your body paragraphs?

    If you’re doing a good job, that’s exactly what will happen.

  2. davidbdale says:

    2nd Paragraph:

    the fatality rate, at 2.13 fatalities per 100 M VMT (100 million vehicle miles travelled), of these types of roadways from speeding and non-speeding accidents is one of the highest of any type of roadway. It would seem to be pretty illogical to increase the speed limit on this category of roads, as an increase in speed limit would more than likely increase the number of driver and pedestrian fatalities.

    The logic is a little iffy is several ways.
    —The fatality rate is high (compared to other types of roads) per miles driven.
    —”one of the highest” is too vague at this point. How many types are we comparing? Five?
    —But that’s regardless of speed?
    —So why would higher speeds increase fatality?
    —And why is fatality the metric for measurement?
    —Aren’t there hugely more non-fatal accidents on local roads than on interstates?
    —Do THEY have anything to do with speed?
    In other words, I don’t see that your data has established the relevance of speed to either fatal or non-fatal accidents. How can you conclude that higher speed limits would increase anything?

  3. davidbdale says:

    3rd Paragraph:

    These roads have proven to be dangerous, as the U.S. Department of Transportation states that they have the highest overall fatality rate of any type of road, at 2.17 per 100 M VMT.

    Apparently, if I follow the pattern here, the roads with the highest speed limit (in the next paragraph) WILL NOT turn out to be the most “dangerous,” using fatality rate to measure relative danger. That clearly indicates that higher speed limits do not correlate with increased danger as you’ve defined it.

    And if THAT is true, you’re going to have a hard time recommending lower speed limits to accomplish anything. They’re apparently not helping on the connector roads.

    I’m only stating the obvious. What you haven’t done yet is indicate that there’s an appropriate speed for DIFFERENT ROAD TYPES. In other words, an optimal speed, either higher or lower than the current limit, at which roads of different types can be traveled most safely.

    You’d need something like data that prove that additional speed invariably leads to higher fatality.

  4. davidbdale says:

    4th Paragraph:

    These first two categories of roads seem to fit into one big category; roads that the speed limit should never be increased on. These types of roads generally include multiple intersections. According to the National Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, approximately 40% of all accidents in the year 2007 were intersection or intersection-related crashes. This high percentage makes it clear that roads with many intersections should not have the speed limit increased as all it would do is lead to more red lights and stop signs ran, and less vigilance in the intersections. This carelessness would lead to a higher number of accidents.

    I truly admire the way you’ve embraced the language of categorical analysis, Runner. This methodical approach to laying out the rules of the argument will serve you well when you find the right data to draw your conclusions. I don’t see, however, that you’ve found the right data yet.

    Local and connector roads have intersections. 40% of accidents occur at intersections. Do 40% of fatalities occur at intersections? Probably not. So far, you’ve used fatality as your only criterion for determining danger. Here you ignore it. And 40% seems to prove the opposite of what you intend. Most accidents occur where there are not intersections, and your interstates are the best example of intersectionlessness.

  5. davidbdale says:

    You’re engaging in a very interesting argument, Runner—one with several components that are well worth discussing.
    —What are the appropriate criteria for determining road “safety”?
    —Why is “fatalities per miles traveled” the correct metric to determine speed limit?
    —What roadway features (you name only intersections and straightaways) contribute to fatality rates?
    —What’s the acceptable fatality rate for a roadway? (I ask because there’s no logic that says “because this sort of highway has the lowest fatality rate, we SHOULD raise the speed limit to increase the number of fatalities to match those on other types of roads.”)
    —What if I wanted to know how likely I was to die around town based NOT on how many miles I traveled but on how many such trips I took? I ask because I doubt I’m more likely to die in a plane crash by flying once to San Francisco than if I took 100 commuter flights to Harrisburg. And the difference in fatality would have nothing to do with the speed limit.

    It’s a good first draft, Runner. I look forward to the next.

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