Tuesday, July 29, 2008


It's back.

The move to make 55mph the national speed limit is on the table again.

Lots of folks have lots of opinions.

I have to be honest with you (and I know this is totally politically incorrect), I don't like it. Maybe back east it works, but out here where there are miles and miles of not much keeping your speed down to 55mph, well, you just can't do it.

Have you ever driven I-70 across Kansas? If you have, try imagine doing it at 55mph.


Still the US Energy Department says fuel efficiency decreases rapidly when traveling faster than 60 miles per hour. The agency says every additional five miles per hour could cost motorists an additional 30-cents per gallon in fuel costs.

How could you not trust the US Energy Department?

Supporters say deaths from traffic accidents go down at 55mph, too.

In 1995, Ralph Nader said, “...history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life.” Why? Because Congress had just repealed the 55 mile per hour speed limit.

In the years following the repeal, 33 states raised their speed limits, and the average fatality rate actually fell in those states.

Meanwhile, Americans have saved some 200 million manhours in terms of less time spent on the road. The net economic benefit of that being between $2 and $3 billion a year.

At least that what it says at the RideLust blog site.

Still, I don't wanna do it.

And neither do or will a lot of others.

Bernie Arseneau, Minnesota's top traffic engineer with the Department of Transportation told WCCO in Minniapolis, "Current law says speed limits should be safe and reasonable. Lower speeds don't necessarily equate to safer speeds."

According to Arseneau, research indicates that when the government sets a speed lower than the reasonable speed the road was designed to handle, a "small percentage obeys the limit no matter what. The rest drive what they feel is comfortable."

"The goal is to have everyone driving the same speed," said Arseneau. "It may be less safe" to lower the limit.

"When you artificially lower the speed limit, you make a bunch of law breakers out of usually reasonable people," he said.

But Lou Guzzo begs to differ (I have no idea who Lou is, so don't ask). He says on his blog WhackyNation, "Frankly, I would welcome a return to the 55 mph speed limit on the highways and roadways. Speed belongs on the race track, not the city and rural roads. We have become a nation of speedsters, and it’s about time to restore some tranquility and safety to our transportation system."

Lou also wants to make sure no one under 18 can drive.

How old do you think Lou is? I'm just saying.

Hey, do you know who pushed the 55mph the last time around.

Richard Milhouse Nixon, that's who.

How can that be good.

Commenting on the article posted below Christian Probasco had an interesting thought. He wrote, "I am a truck driver. The American Trucking Association is backing the proposed 55 mph speed limit. So is the (large) company I work for. My theory is that they are backing it because the measure would favor large trucking companies, which the ATA represents. Getting a load to its destination faster is one of the few advantages owner-operators have over company drivers, whose speeds are often limited by governors (my truck is governed at 63). If everybody had to go the same speed, that advantage would be lost."

Finally, I cite the Radioactive Communist Zombies blog:
You know, there are some good reasons to have a lower national speed limit:

1) More revenue for governments. Instead of raising taxes in ways that people notice (and may vote against) simply set up radar and lidar traps and rake in the revenue. Photo radar works even better!

2) More insurance company profits. Since they raise your rates for getting speeding tickets (because they claim speeding is dangerous) they'll be able to raise your rates for driving safer! Yes, you'll get a ticket for going 65 where before you could go 70 without a ticket and then they'll raise your rates. So buy those insurance stocks now!

3) More community/police contact. As more people get more tickets for driving what once was considered slow, police and regular folks will have more contact helping relationships between police and the community. And people driving what is even now considered too fast will have less chance of getting caught because the police will be busy ticketing those going 65 whereas now they can ignore them.

4) Longer trips. Yes, people will get to enjoy more time on the road, more chances to fall asleep at the wheel, more time spent enjoying our nation's beautiful scenery and less doing what they would otherwise be doing.

For all these reasons, I believe a lower speed limit is good for the nation."

The following is from New West.

An Inconvenient Argument: 55 mph
Will Americans slow down? It depends on who they believe.
By Jill Kuraitis, 7-25-08

If you want to cause a hostage situation at a truck stop, try telling the drivers on a break that a mandatory 55 miles per hour speed limit is on the table in Congress.

It’s not – yet – but Sen. John Warner of Virginia thinks it should be. Warner has asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to investigate if current car technology would mean better gas efficiency with a lowered speed limit.

The last time a national speed limit was imposed by Congress was in 1974 during an oil crisis which had Americans lining up for what seemed to be a gas shortage. The limit was repealed in 1995. Warner pointed out there are studies showing that two percent of American highway fuel consumption a day was saved, and the speed limit saved thousands of lives.

Warner quoted the Department of Energy’s website data, which says, in part, that if a car is going faster than 60 mph, every five mph over that costs the driver an extra 30 cents a gallon for gas.

But according to WIRED, other groups such as the libertarian Cato Institute and the conservative America Heritage Foundation disagree, claiming that 12 years of the 55 mph limit cut fuel consumption just one percent.

The DOE website has other tips for saving gas, one of which is “use air conditioning only when necessary.” Here in the West, we think that’s like telling Easterners they should use mold-killer in their basements “only when necessary.” Driving an endless (dusty) Western highway with the windows down? And at a torturous 55 mph, when there isn’t a car two miles in front or behind you, and the open landscape seems to lend itself to “safe speeding”?

Some westerners would laugh their Stetsons off at that one.

However, and there are some big howevers to this idea, the National Safety Council tells us that higher gas prices which have resulted in fewer cars on the road, and higher seat-belt use have combined to lower traffic deaths significantly. Add a lowered speed limit and tens of thousands of lives might be saved, along with oil and money. And let’s not forget reduced air pollution.

Incidentally, higher gas prices have brought drunk driving rates down, too.

But since trusting information from the federal government these days is a national joke, and trusting information from politically-biased organizations like Cato and American Heritage is just as much, if not more dicey, I predict we’re in for a whole new genre of finger-pointing blame games.

Meanwhile, I am going to drive at a lower speed limit, try to use the A/C less, have the car tuned up, and keep singing at intersections.

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