Driving fast vs. slow; can you beat power of stoplight?

By David Higgins

Speeding should not be even an option on Highway 58 on a normal day.

Does speeding really get you to your destination faster? I wonder this every time I see people speed past me in their Nissan Skyline or fear for my own life when, through my rear view mirror, I can see a driver bobbing and weaving through traffic and heading our way.  I wonder about this when being tailgated (in which case, I obviously slow down even more and then speed up as the offending speedster switches lanes). As I become a dot in the speedsters own rear view mirror, I wonder whether this drivers efforts to zip off to their destination was in vain, or did they actually arrive earlier and safely? Was it really worth burning all that gas and risking so many lives, including their own, along their mad trail?

If you love math, then you are going to find this interesting. Consider this. If your daily commute is 24km (or 15miles) with a speed limit of 55kph (or 35mph) it’s going to take you 25.71 minutes to arrive at your destination. Now if you step on the gas and add 16kph (10mph) to make a total of 71kph (or 45mph) to your speed you are going to shave off 5.71 minutes of your daily commute and that’s pretty good but unfortunately, all theoretical gains are lost once we factor in other traffic and traffic lights.

Speeding gets you nowhere fast, but rather to encounters like this.

During high traffic hours or in heavily populated areas such as Okinawa, the hypothetical timesavings go out the window.  For starters, you can barely maintain a constant speed, much less one that exceeds that which the other drivers are traveling at.  Every time you stop at a traffic light, you lose your gains. As your vehicle slows down when approaching the intersection, while you wait for the light to turn green, and while you accelerate back up to speed again.

I heartily recommend driving more slowly for many reasons but one of the best reasons is that it can actually contribute to making you a much happier person. A simple step, but believe it or not, it will make an incredible difference. People often think that they’re saving time by driving faster but it’s not enough time to justify the anxiety and tension that that is accumulating in your body and mind, compromising your sanity and your safety.

Incentives to slow down are numerous but I would like to include a few of my favorites; Save Gas, Save Lives, Save Time. Simple enough, right?  Eventually all the times that you spent speeding will amount to an increased probability of an accident happening and if you are lucky enough to come out of it alive, the consequences involved may be with you for the remainder of your life.  Salvage your sanity and simplify your life and those of others who you share the roadways with.

Driving more slowly can reduce resulting complications involved in the headache of being responsible for accidents; speeding tickets, legal battles, injuries, aches and pains, a guilty conscience, as well as trying to maintain an unhealthy hectic pace of life. Why rush through our valuable lives? Slow down and enjoy, nothing on Okinawa is changing faster than at a snails’ pace anyways. If we’re always in a hurry to arrive, the possible pleasures of the journey will be missed, and when we arrive at our destination, will we actually be happy or will we be anxious about rushing off to the next destination?  Life is journey – make it a pleasant and fulfilling one.

Whether I have convinced you to try driving more slowly or not, here are a few things that I hope that you will be willing to give a try while you are testing out the slow down.  Load your iPod, iPhone or Android with your favorite music and just ignore the other drivers. Driving is a good time to listen to new music because you will have the time and mind space to really engage and appreciate what you are hearing.  Really savor your morning coffee or tea, listen to an audiobook, catch up on the news or a good radio documentary or take in the scenery around you and how it has changed over the years.  Who knows, you may notice a new restaurant or vista that you would like to check out.

I highly recommend that you all watch some of the ridiculous North American Youtube examples of road rage (once the car is turned off and you out of the vehicle, of course) and consider how irrational this rage is. Does it seem worth becoming extremely irate over minimal driving ‘mistakes’ such as having someone merge into your lane, interpreting it as being ‘cut off?’  Driving does not have to be a re-enactment of heading into battle, and it is definitely not a computer game.  This is real life, with real life consequences. Believe it or not, driving can actually be a pleasant experience, especially on Okinawa. Life is busy enough already so it is important for us all to remember that the journey is equally as important as our destination.

  • Okinawa Resident

    Pleasures of the journey??? What’s so pleasurable about the exact same thing over and over? I agree that speeding should be avoided but that doesn’t mean go 10 under with no cars in front of you either. The only reason you don’t see road rage here is because the Japanese don’t like confrontation. My favorite is when someone goes flying past me and I catch them at the next red light and I was going the speed limit.

  • JimmyRustles

    Well just to be that guy, the lights on okinawa are so terribly timed that a person, if traveling at 98km an hour exactly, will hit every green light from naha airport all the way to nago, if they left at 10pm from naha. Yes i have proven this many times, and yes it is/was reckless. But i guess my point is this.

    Speeding does not make one reach their destination any bit faster if the commute is short. But, the amount of traffic lights on highway 58 alone is rediculous and works to slow traffic in a very dangerous manner.

    If you want a good read about why i say its dangerous, just take a second to look in the engineering and wave/sine theories behind road design and traffic light layouts.

  • David Chavez

    I get your point but many drivers (mainly Japanese) seem to be very inconsiderate on the roads. Like leaving a football field gap between them and another car, not merging correctly, stopping abruptly, turning abruptly, sometimes without warning and no turn signal. I understand going the speed limit but going under the speed limit without cause? I don’t think so. I’ve driven in many countries and the Japanese are definitely not a driving culture. I’ve learned to live with it but it does drive me crazy at times.

21:02 23 Oct , 2016