Rule evasion (I-95 edition)

My wife and I took turns driving from Orlando, Florida to Savannah, Georgia via various interstate highways earlier today in order to attend the annual meeting of Academy of Legal Studies in Business (#ALSB): I-4 East to I-95 North to I-16 East. There was light traffic most of the way, and I noticed that most (if not all) motorists, including ourselves, were driving at least 10 to 20 miles per hour in excess of the posted speed limits, depending on whether the speed limit was 60 or 70 mph. In other words, rule evasion, far from being some rare occurrence, is the norm, at least when traffic is light! (By the way, doesn’t my contagion model of rule evasion explain this behavior? If driver A sees driver B speeding (and getting away with it), then A should be more likely to speed himself.) So, how common is rule evasion in other domains of life?

Image result for 70 mph speed limit
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2 Responses to Rule evasion (I-95 edition)

  1. CHC says:

    I’m thinking of the behavior of schools of fish or flocks of birds here, and the signals given and received among the individuals. In this case, the tendency for every driver will be to drive as fast as possible without (a) getting caught or (b) getting into an accident. Each individual driver enters the traffic with his/her own individual estimate of what that speed is. The drivers observe each other — observing a faster driver may cause slower drivers to revise their estimate upward (somewhat). Observing slower drivers (or brake lights on cars up ahead) may cause a fast driver to revise his/her estimate downward. There is not only an initial distribution of “fast as I think I can” speeds but also a distribution (independent of the first) of how easily one is influenced by observing other drivers. it may be that faster drivers, based on their experience of not getting caught, are less likely to be influenced by slower drivers, than the other way around. The product of these distributions should produce a somewhat narrower distribution of actual speeds, and probably a higher mean (being that people want to go as fast as they can) than would arise if there were no driver-driver interaction.

    • I like the school-of-fish analogy (or to a flock of birds) in which every member of the flock/school observes (and imitates) its nearest member. I have seen such models before many years ago; now I just have to go back, retrace my steps, and find them.

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