Is speeding a sin?


#1

I contend yes. Not a mortal sin (probably not a mortal sin usually) but a venial sin. For the following reasons:
1. Thou shalt not kill. Someone (supposedly educated professionals) has determined a safe speed in a given area. To go above that means you are likely adding additional danger to your safety (and others with you). (I suppose if you truly believe a speed limit is too low, the proper course of action would be to try to raise the limit, rather than speed.)
2. Honor thy father and mother. This commandment extends to being obedient to legitimate civil authority (such as police officers and laws). We are obligated to obey civil laws unless immoral. Again, if we disagree with those laws, we can try to change them.
3. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Not sure if this is the right commandment here, but speeding causes scandal. If I am speeding and my 16 yo daughter is with me, I am setting an example that it is okay to disobey (at least some) civil laws. If I see a priest (Roman collar) zooming down the freeway at 90 mph in a 70 mph zone, he is saying that we do not need to obey speed laws.

Your thoughts?
Even 1 mile over the limit is speeding. That may arguably be less serious than 20 miles over the limit, but it is still over.
For the record, I usually speed. Not by much, maybe 5 miles, seldom more than 10 over. I think it is wrong (for the above reasons), I do it anyway. Something for me to work on.

Also, I do believe there ARE times when speeding is NOT sinful. Two examples come to mind- the true emergency; and also in certain traffic situations. Certain times on certain freeways, if you drove the speed limit, you would be MORE of a hazard and danger than if you sped some. If everyone is zipping along at 80-90 and you're putzing at the posted limit of 65, you're a hazard. In that case, I would say speeding (as minimally as safe) is the lesser of two evils and not sinful.

Choose God,
Kathy


#2

[quote="MatureMomG, post:1, topic:213671"]
I contend yes. Not a mortal sin (probably not a mortal sin usually) but a venial sin. For the following reasons:Kathy

[/quote]

it could be given the same conditions as other sin, objectively wrong, full knowledge and full free will consent and intention.

the third is probably the hardest to establish.

if speeding is sinful, so I would argue is driving much slower especially on the freeway than surrounding traffic, because it is equally dangerous


#3

Not a sin. The real sin is the cop hiding at the bottom of a hill looking to feed on people going 10 miles over the limit on a thoroughfare. It's about money, not safety.

The flaw in your argument is your first assertion. "Someone (supposedly educated professionals) has determined a safe speed...". That someone is usually wrong.

Then there's the fact that cops break the speed limit with or without sirens. It's a scam. An injustice is an injustice.

It's kind of like giving your teenager a little wine. Technically, that is illegal(sinful) because he/she is underage. Big deal. It's better to have them try it with you present than elsewhere.

Don't mix up legality with morality. The too parted ways many moons ago.

On the beltway here in D.C., it's more dangerous to drive the speed limit. 18-wheelers will tailgate you if you drive that absurd 55mph or even lower in construction areas.


#4

The flaw in your argument is your first assertion. "Someone (supposedly educated professionals) has determined a safe speed...". That someone is usually wrong.

Maybe, maybe not.

It's about money, not safety.

I concede this is true to some degree.
However, I am also an optimist. I don't think most (or even many, perhaps a very small minority) cops are out to get you (my personal experience has not borne that out). I also think that in general, laws such as speed limits are there for our safety (and the safety of others) MORE than the desire for income.

That said, are you saying that a speed limit law is immoral because in your (possibly correct) opinion the basis behind it is not safety but money, and therefore we are not obliged to obey it?

Let's set the record clear right here- as I said in initial post, speeding on certain freeways at certain times may not be sinful, but a good and necessary thing. THAT'S NOT what I'm talking about here. Let's use the example of going 65 on a rural highway where the posted limit is 55. Or 35 in a residential area where the posted is 30.

And anticipating questions.... am I the one who gets to decide what speed is or is not moral/safe? The one who says, well, 35 is not safe in a residential area, so I'll obey that law. But 65 on my country road is not unsafe, so I'll ignore THAT law. That makes ME the authority. What gives me that right? Isn't that moral relativism?

Choose God,
Kathy


#5

[quote="MatureMomG, post:1, topic:213671"]
I contend yes. Not a mortal sin (probably not a mortal sin usually) but a venial sin. Your thoughts?

[/quote]

First, speed limits are arbitrary, and only partially set where they are because of estimated danger. They can and do change, either up or down. Speeding on a deserted farm road is much different from speeding through a subdivision. It is highly contextual.

Second, in almost all states, they are a civil infraction, rather than a crime. Thus, by your standard, receiving a parking ticket is also a sin.


#6

[quote="MatureMomG, post:1, topic:213671"]
"If everyone is zipping along at 80-90 and you're putzing at the posted limit of 65, you're a hazard. In that case, I would say speeding (as minimally as safe) is the lesser of two evils and not sinful."

Choose God,
Kathy

[/quote]

I love this post, and it is a question I ask priests in the Confessional often; however, personally, I would be careful with the assertion that because "everyone is zipping along at 80-90" and you're traveling at 65, that you are the hazard. Just because everyone else is potentially behaving dangerously, it wouldn't seem prudent for me to follow the same course of action.

There are times when I have been driving and other motorists are severely tailgating me at 70 to 75 mph, and I move to the far right lane and slow down and let them pass. My mother worked in a trauma unit in the OR of a hospital, and if more of us saw the results of high-speed accidents, I suspect we would slow down.

Having said this, I live in a rural state where speed limits are typically 65 to 75 mph on the interstate, and I am frequently frustrated with the artificially low speed limits set in a few other states. The difference is, I have found most motorists here to be more polite (generally) and careful, so the higher speed doesn't seem as wreckless. However, I am reminded often by mom about what happens to people in accidents (blown tires, animals on road, etc.) at those speeds, regardless of the cautious driving.

I hope this doesn't sound critical or pedantic, but a red flag goes up for me, when people act one way versus another, based on the actions of the majority. Thanks for the great post! God Bless! :)


#7

Disobeying those who have the authority to set the speed limits when the speed limits set are not contrary to the laws of God is a sin of disobedience.

"Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. [2] Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation. [3] For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. [4] For he is God's minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God's minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. [5] Wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake. " Romans 13


#8

Thus, by your standard, receiving a parking ticket is also a sin.

Well, never thought of it, but yes.
So, maybe my question could be rephrased: is disobedience to civil laws sinful?

Always? Sometimes? Why or why not?

I would say disobedience to a posted speed limit of 65 on a freeway where people are going 80 is NOT sinful.
I would say obedience to a posted 30 on a city street is sinful.
I would say disobedience to a law (currently not law in the US, but who knows what the future holds) forcing me to abort my baby is not sinful.
I would say parking illegally (when there is no TRUE need, such as a medical emergency) is sinful.

**I would say, in general, we ARE obliged to obey ALL civil laws **unless there is serious and grave reason not to (such as endangering lives of people on freeways by driving slow), or unless they are immoral (such as a law requiring abortion). I suppose that sets ME up as judge in such matters. And I need to base my judgment upon the religious formation i have had, and the Church's stance on things.

Parking illegally is ignoring civil laws. Not a BIG deal, for sure, but disobedience to civil law.

Choose God,
Kathy


#9

I agree, if a law is not immoral then it is a sin to purposefully break it. There is clearly a time and a place for breaking civil laws, such as Rosa Parks not obeying the law that Black people had to sit on the back of the bus, and indeed if a speeding law was immoral then it would be ok to break it in that instance. In the vast majority of the time though I would think that it is sinful.


#10

[quote="Milesius, post:7, topic:213671"]
Disobeying those who have the authority to set the speed limits when the speed limits set are not contrary to the laws of God is a sin of disobedience.

[/quote]

Well said, thank you.
Choose God,
Kathy


#11

Is it a sin to build houses for the homeless? Certainly not. But, without permits, you go to jail.


#12

Just thought I’d mention I noticed MatureMomG that you’ve posted a few different questions in regards to what or what isn’t isn’t a sin. Technically these types of questions go in the Moral Theology Forum not the Family Life forum. :wink: Since you’re pretty new to CA you probably didn’t realize that.

That being said if speeding is a sin -when does it become a sin. 2 miles over the speed limit? 5? 10? And how do we decide?


#13

To answer the OP:
Reckless speeding, dangerous speeding (particularly without just cause, which would be speeding away from a scene of danger, speeding to get help, etc) -- is indeed a mortal sin if it crosses that line into danger. Two to five miles over the speed limit in clear weather on an uncrowded freeway? No. Much of the time you have to do that to pass someone legitimately. But dangerous, reckless driving habits of any kind which endanger life I have been told by priests is a mortal sin. (Racing to work because you got a late start, for instance; driving at high speed because the trip is long and you want to shorten it -- without regard to your safety and those in and out of your car -- is definitely a sin.)

Covered by "Thou Shall Not Kill."
:)


#14

catechism of the catholic church: 2290 The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who,** by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air. **

not only is it a sin, but it's a grave guilt to endanger lives. the hard part is accepting that driving32 in a 25 mph zone is endangering other's lives.


#15

[quote="rayne89, post:12, topic:213671"]
Just thought I'd mention I noticed MatureMomG that you've posted a few different questions in regards to what or what isn't isn't a sin. Technically these types of questions go in the Moral Theology Forum not the Family Life forum. ;) Since you're pretty new to CA you probably didn't realize that.

[/quote]

Thanks. I didn't realize that.


#16

It’s called individual freedom, something this country used to promote. It’s not moral relativism because it is not a moral issue anymore than it is a moral issue to eat broccoli once every week for health reasons or make sure your kid eats the recommended number of vegetable servings per day. Put freedom in the hands of individuals, not in the hands of central planners or so-called “experts”.

To demonstrate the absurdity of speed limits, some college students did a test on Atlanta’s beltway. They all drove the speed limit in each lane. As a result, the beltway was backed up for miles. Drivers tailgated, cursed, and ran the shoulder to get around the moving roadblock. It is/was on youtube some place. They followed the law, and it was a disaster. Traffic that is allowed to flow freely generates less accidents because faster traffic zips by on the left rather than have to weave in and out. Police officers will tell you the same thing off duty when they aren’t forced to go out and feed.

The crime/sin is the accident. When it happens, the investigation can tell you who was at fault, unable to control the vehicle, etc… I will also add that streets are for vehicular traffic, not people, joggers, strollers, bikes, etc. That’s why there are sidewalks (or at least there shoudl be).Unfortunately, our genius planners take the opposite view and most people simply assume “they are the experts and know best” rather than take responsibility for themselves and make their own decisions.


#17

[quote="Nec5, post:16, topic:213671"]
To demonstrate the absurdity of speed limits, some college students did a test on Atlanta's beltway. They all drove the speed limit in each lane. As a result, the beltway was backed up for miles. Drivers tailgated, cursed, and ran the shoulder to get around the moving roadblock. It is/was on youtube some place. They followed the law, and it was a disaster. Traffic that is allowed to flow freely generates less accidents because faster traffic zips by on the left rather than have to weave in and out. Police officers will tell you the same thing off duty when they aren't forced to go out and feed.

[/quote]

I agree with this portion of your post but not necessarily all of the rest of it. I, too, abhor the folly of slavishly following speed laws on major thoroughfares (minus pedestrians, etc.), because a crucial aspect of safety is keeping up with traffic -- something my father taught long before I was even old enough to drive. I think that's not the question here, but exceeding not just the posted limit but what is 'safe for conditions," which is sometimes less than the posted limit. Sometimes it's unsafe to drive 65 on the freeway in very bad weather. (Etc.) Almost always it would be unsafe to exceed speed limits in active school and hospital zones.

Yes, use your common sense and personal responsibility, but understand that even when traffic is light & conditions clear, speed laws are there for a reason. Generally, exceeding them invites danger, and if this is done thoughtlessly, then it is a mortal sin because it endangers lives, including one's own.

I will also tell you that in some regions of the country (including mine), drivers are almost always in an excessive hurry, and/or they compensate for recent heavy traffic by overdoing it later. If they had their way, the speed limit would always be 80 mph on the freeway. Sometimes the safest thing to do is to stay to the right and let the maniacal majority of impatient drivers whiz past you.


#18

I know I’m a couple years late to the party but I thought I might add a word that I haven’t seen elsewhere. It seems to me that sometimes we need to stop assuming that our government is legitimate authority.

I have reason enough to believe that it is not. Through cheating on election day to fraud to lying to the American voters to the immoral foundation for almost everything (take the IRS for example). This is why whenever someone makes the case of legitimate authority, a red flag goes up for me.

As for me speeding is only a sin if it is in any way endangering those around you. Sometimes on a light traffic, wide road you can go 55 in a 45 without endangering anyone’s lives significantly. (and if we are honest, driving a car in the first place is some level of endangerment). I don’t think this scenario would be a sin.
What if it is a cold, rainy day, you can barely see because of the fog in front of you and you are going downhil where there just might be ice at the bottom. You might be going 40 and its a 45. Could that be a sin? Yes, it could be depending on the exact conditions. But are you breaking a law? No! So I don’t see how moral behavior is all of a sudden hinged on legality.


#19

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