Pellerin: Why we speed – it's all about having too much space

By Brigitte Pellerin, Ottawa Citizen, December 19, 2018

Not to boast, but I’m pretty good at driving on the wrong side of the street.

I’ve crisscrossed the United Kingdom and Ireland several times. I’ve learned a lot driving those roads. First, that calling them “roads” is really funny. In North America, traffic lanes are wider than three metres; over there, they’re barely bigger than a standard elevator.

In more than a few places, the road is elevated and the guardrails few and far between. On a recent trip to a waterfall just outside Dublin, I motored along not four feet from a precipice with nothing to keep me from tumbling to my death except my instinct for self-preservation. There are speed limits but you don’t need them; you’d be bonkers to go faster than the roads allow. Incentives, I tell you.

There are various reasons so many people speed in Ottawa, including congestion, stress caused by same and busy lifestyles. But more than anything else, I am convinced, we speed because our roads feel so wide, straight and safe to us seated comfortably in our spacious cushy vehicles that we can’t possibly restrict ourselves to 40 km/h without a massive dose of self-discipline, which we tend to lack.

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