Saturday, September 25, 2010

GRE Argument Task 6

Six months ago the region of Forestville increased the speed limit for vehicles travelling on the region’s highways by ten miles per hour. Since that change took effect, the number of automobile accidents in that region has increased by 15 percent. But the speed limit in Elmsford, a region neighboring Forestville, remained unchanged, and automobile accidents declined slightly during the same six-month period. Therefore, if the citizens of Forestville want to reduce the number of automobile accidents on the region’s highways, they should campaign to reduce Forestville’s speed limit to what it was before the increase.

The speaker recommends that the citizens of Forestville should tell the authorities that they want the speed limit in Forestville’s highways to be reduced to what it was before the ten-mile increase six months ago. The recommendation is made based on the fact that since the new speed limit was enacted, there were more automobile accidents in that region, increasing by 15 percent. The speaker also points out that a neighboring region did not change its speed limit, and its rate of automobile accidents declined slightly during the same period. Although the argument seems plausible, a careful examination upon it reveals its flaws, leaving it unconvincing as it stands.

To begin with, the speaker’s assumption that the decline of automobile accidents in Elmsford was a direct result of the region’s speed limit remained unchanged is specious. It is very possible that there were other factors contributing to the decrease, for example, the neighboring region had been helding an intense campaign on the issue of driving safely. Failing to give such possible explanations, the speaker could not make his argument cogent.

Even if it was true that Elmsford enjoyed slight decline of automobile accidents in its region, the speaker does not mention how slight it was nor did he provide any information about the actual number of speed limit. The speed limit in Elmsford may be irrationally low, and its citizens may actually crave to increase it. Furthermore, it means that Forestville has to reduce its speed limit to the same level. Meanwhile, if the decline was extremely slight, say 0.5%, then reducing the speed limit in Forestville to the same level may not yield a satisfactory result, and annoy its citizens instead.

Eventually, since the rise of Forestville’s speed limit itself did not necessarily cause a higher rate of automobile accidents, the speaker has to look for the actual reason why Forestville endured the increase. There might be some new citizens who provoked the young to drive carelessly. Therefore, the speaker would be able to make a better consideration about whether returning the speed limit to what it was is an effective measurement.

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