New York State highways: underperforming, but safe

imageA report released by the Reason Foundation, Performance of State Highway Systems, 1984-2005, 16th Annual Report, reveals two realities of New York State’s highway system, which you can see for yourself on their interactive map:

  1. It is highly inefficient.
  2. It is safe.

Anyone who lives in New Your State knows how bad our roads can be. In New York City (my home town), road surface anomalies come in many different styles (I never knew the proper name for a hummock until today).

Pothole Phil, courtesy of Staten Island AdvancePotholes in the big city have at times taken on lives of their own, and have created subcultures. Pothole Phil roams Staten Island, sticking his head in the many potholes he finds while smiling for the camera. Yes, this is the stuff of legends.

But what about the safety part? Why is it that New York State highways rank at the bottom in efficiency and quality, but at the top when it comes to safety (6th best in fatalities per 100 million miles)? It’s very simple, actually.

  1. Poor road conditions force drivers to drive slower to avoid a bone-rattling ride.
  2. High traffic conditions in New York force drivers to drive slower than the speed limit.
  3. You are less likely to get in a fatal accident when you’re driving slow.

Sometimes, the law of unintended consequences works out to some benefit.

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