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GRE Argument: In An Attempt To Improve Highway Safety - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: “In an attempt to improve highway safety, Prunty County last year lowered its speed limit from 55 to 45 miles per hour on all county highways. But this effort has failed: the number of accidents has not decreased, and, based on reports by the highway patrol, many drivers are exceeding the speed limit. Prunty County should instead undertake the same kind of road improvement project that Butler County completed five years ago: increasing lane widths, resurfacing rough highways, and improving visibility at dangerous intersections. Today, major Butler County roads still have a 55 mph speed limit, yet there were 25 percent fewer reported accidents in Butler County this past year than there were five years ago.
Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.”
The author of this argument has mentioned the failure in implementing the reduced speed limits in highways in Prunty county as many drivers exceed the speed limit. Hence the author of this argument suggests that Prunty County undertake same kind of project as Butler County undertook 5 years ago. To support his suggestion, the author cites the fact that there is a 25% decrease in Butler County in the past 5 years even though the speed limit in Butler County is the same as that in Prunty county. We need evidence to rule out other possibilities of reduced accidents in Butler county before we could agree with the arguer and take up the project.
Even after decreasing the speed limits in the highways the number of accidents in the Prunty County has not decreased and reports from highway patrol states that many drivers are exceeding the speed limits. Do these accidents happen only because of increased speed limits? The author fails to consider various other reasons like road conditions and the driving skills of driver. Author should provide evidence about how well the drivers drive in the highways and the road conditions in highways etc. If the roads are smooth and drivers are very good at driving and drive well in all weather conditions, this could strengthen the argument that these accidents happen majorly due to exceeding the speed limits.
Next, the author of the argument suggests to increase the lane width, and resurface the rough highways etc in Prunty County as was done in Butler County. The author should have provided the current lane width, road conditions and visibility at dangerous intersections in both counties and also how these measures were in Butler County before the project was undertaken. This comparison report would have strengthened the argument if from this report we could see that current lane width is less, and road conditions and visibility are worse in Prunty County than in Butler county and hence undertaking this project would improve those conditions of highways in Prunty County.
Finally, the arguer states that undertaking such highway improvement project in Butler County has decreased accidents by 20% in past 5 years. This statement does not have any strong evidence to support it. There may be various reasons why there is a decrease in Butler county over the past 5 years. It is given in the argument that Butler county's current speed limit is 55 mph, whereas there is no information on whether it was the same before the project was undertaken or is the speed limit was higher before and is decreased to 55 mph now. Also, Butler county could have enforced strict rules on wearing helmets and wearing seat belts and following speed limits and heavy fines for people who don't follow these rules. If the decrease in number of accidents is due to one of the above reasons, then this would weaken the argument. Alternatively, if there is no such rules imposed on drivers and the speed limit was not decreased after undertaking the project, this could mean that the number of accidents decreased because of this project only and this would strengthen the argument.
Your first argument is not especially strong. You suggest that the original statement claims that “accidents happen majorly due to exceeding the speed limits.” The statement does not precisely make that claim, although it does suggest that the speed limit does not have an impact on the number of accidents. The only significance within the original argument of the fact that there are drivers who break the speed limit is that that fact possibly explains why the number of accidents has not decreased despite the lowering of the speed limit. One could of course argue that we need further evidence to support that claim. For instance, we would need to know whether drivers used to break the speed limit when it was a 55 mph, or more generally whether the lower speed limit had any affect on the speed of traffic.
You then claim that evidence about road conditions in both counties, and about road conditions in Butler County prior to the changes made there, would be helpful in evaluating the recommendation. That’s a reasonable claim, but the explanation of how such evidence would help one evaluate the recommendation is poorly articulated. You might break that explanation up into two sentences.
Your final claim is that there are possible reasons other than the improvements mentioned in the statement that might explain the reduction in Butler County of the number of accidents. That’s a good point, though I think you miss one of the obvious bits of evidence that is missing from the statement. The most obvious piece of evidence that is required to assess the recommendation concerns changes in the number of cars on the road; all other things being equal, more cars will mean more accidents. If the number of accidents stays the same despite an increase in the number of cars using the roads, then road safety will have increased; likewise, a drop in the number of accidents might be explained by a decrease in the number of cars on the roads.