For those of us who use motorized vehicles, Pepperdine’s Malibu campus became far less welcoming over the past several months. The ever-increasing on-campus population has made parking difficult for those of us who live here and a real struggle for those who commute. There is little that can be done immediately to fix that issue, since building new parking areas takes time and money. The completely preventable blight on our streets this year comes in the form of the seemingly-innocuous speed bumps everywhere.
At first glance, most people would support speed bumps. After all, aren’t they supposed to slow cars down so that pedestrians are safer and accidents less likely? In reality, their negative effects are likely worse than any benefit they may bring. While the purpose of speed bumps is to force drivers to slow down, some people adopt the tactic of traveling over them at higher speeds just to get it over with. Even for those who slow down, their cars suffer more wear and tear from driving over speed bumps than they would have otherwise. Ideally, drivers should creep over speed bumps at 3 to 5 mph, but the reality is that most people don’t do this and will have to pay more money to maintain their car’s suspension.
The other side-effect of speed bumps on campus that everyone will experience comes in reducing a car’s gas mileage and increasing the amount of pollution. Slowing down to go over a speed bump and then accelerating back to the speed limit first puts greater wear and tear on brake pads and then causes your car to burn more gasoline as you repeatedly accelerate, rather than maintaining a constant speed and lower revolutions per minute (rpm). Even more bizarre, speed bumps have been installed for uphill stretches of road, forcing cars to sacrifice valuable momentum that must be compensated for with more acceleration.
These environmental and financial costs take a bite out of the bank accounts of students, staff and faculty alike, but they all pale in comparison to the way in which speed bumps actually cost lives every year.
The effect of speed bumps, jostling passengers and their belongings, is annoying at best and damaging at worst. For emergency vehicles such as fire engines, which are significantly heavier than the average car and carry thousands of dollars of sensitive equipment vital to saving lives and property, that jostling is a serious problem. In order for emergency vehicles to successfully navigate an area with speed bumps, they must slow to a crawl to avoid damaging any of their equipment or — in the case of an ambulance rushing an injured person to a hospital — their passengers.
Every second counts in the business of saving lives, and the additional minutes that are added on to the time it takes emergency vehicles to respond are a real question of life and death. Even more than the monetary and environmental reasons why speed bumps are bad, the difference they make in allowing emergency vehicles to respond to emergencies should be all the reason anyone needs to remove them.
Follow Patrick Rear on Twitter: @pgrear92
As published in the Nov. 14 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.