[The following is an editorial from the February 17, 2011 edition of the Carroll County Independent]
Among other non-job creating measures the legislature is considering is SB 27, which replaces the current 45 mph daytime speed limit and 30 mph nighttime speed limit with a general standard that calls for boats to “proceed at a safe speed that is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions and with regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing” at all times.
The proposed law then cites six factors all boaters need to take into account in setting a speed, plus another six factors that boats equipped with radar need to consider. In other words, the bill proposes to replace a single objective standard with at least six subjective ones. Why? To allow those who wish to run their boats at speeds higher than 45 mph during the day and 30 mph at night.
Are we the only one whose first thought on reading this proposed law was of Erica Blizzard and her June 2008 nighttime crash into Diamond Island? We would hope that anyone would conclude she was not proceeding “at a safe speed that is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions,” but that may be open to argument under SB 27.
We think opponents of SB 27 have good arguments against getting rid of speed limits. The most significant of them for us is the simple fact that more boats are on Lake Winnipesaukee and most of them are smaller and more vulnerable than those that can crank it up to 70 mph or more.
Speed limits make boating on the lake safer. Removing them makes the lake less safe. What benefit could possibly make that trade-off worthwhile?