Time for the US to start driving 55?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Ugg, May 21, 2008.

  1. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #1
    This article by Tom Friedman in the NYT, made me realize that with all the moaning and groaning about high fuel prices, nobody is suggesting that we return to a lower speed limit.

    Last weekend I drove to visit a friend up north. It's about 200 miles from where I live and I've done the trip a number of times. I almost always get 38-9 mpg with my 98 Honda Civic. I'm no speed demon but no slow poke either. Anyway, this last trip, I decided I was going to keep it under 65 the entire way. Only about 50 miles is Interstate the rest a mix of twisty, hilly 2 and 4 lane roads.

    I was stunned to discover that I got 42 mpg. A ~10% increase in fuel economy!

    It did seem that there were fewer "racers" on the roads as well and I couldn't help but wonder if the Highway Patrol has been writing fewer tickets as a result.

    Why hasn't a lower speed limit been part of the discussion of high oil prices? Are we simply unwilling to sacrifice like we did in the 70s? Are we unwilling to accept that oil prices are probably never going to go down? Are we simply stupid?

    There's been lots of talk of how fuel prices are adversely affecting the poor. A lower speed limit would automatically reduce that impact. I also think that all the 6 and 8 cylinder vehicles on the road with their rapid acceleration and cruising power means that people go fast simply because they can.

    If oil prices continue to stay high, there's simply no way to continue to avoid addressing this issue.
     
  2. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #2
    Something like this was tried a while ago back in Houston. It was a complete failure. As a result of lowering the limit wreck on Houston roads increased and it became more unsafe to drive because all it did was increase the delta between the slow cars and the fast car.

    The left lane went 73-75 before the speed limit drop and middle land did 70sh and the right lane did 65. Post drop Left lane did 73-75, middle lane did 65 and right lane did maybe 55 on a good day. These number come from my experince on driving those roads every day for a few years before and after the drop and then after they raised them back up.

    While in theory it would work just the people would not really stand for it. It was tried in the 70sh as well and it failed then. Just so you know the history of it.
     
  3. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

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    #3
    i've seen it mentioned in the news, and well the overwhelming opinion seems to be that while it would help things, people would more than likely ignore it and thus no real impact would be made.
     
  4. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    #4
    Big trucks have already started slowing down, since they can get a sizeable savings on their hauls slowing to 60-65.

    While 55 was OK, 60 is a bit more reasonable and makes it much much easier to time trips.
     
  5. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

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    #5
    I agree we should be looking (and hopefully implementing) any viable way to reduce our consumption. There would be a great deal of resistance to returning to 55, even though as you say, it does improve milage. It also reduced the number of accidents. The transportation lobby is very powerful and they would most certainly fight it. If it were reduced to 55 in congested metropolitan areas, and 60 on the open highway, I think it would have a much better chance. On the West Coast, the maximum speed for trucks is already 60, so they would not have much to cry about.

    Something that would help even more, is make SUVs get better milage. The auto industry has fought this tooth and nail, ever since it was first attempted. They twisted enough arms and got a special exclusion for them. Since then, no one has shown the juice to take them on. But, their milage is deplorable (some as low as 8-12 MPG). If we are going to address the difficult challenges ahead of us, the special interest groups are going to have to set aside their greed and do the things a responsible member of society demands.
     
  6. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030

    Gray-Wolf

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    #6
    The problem with ANY preset speeds, is people won't do it. A construction zone, with a 60 mph limit, warning signs that state speeding fines double in the area, $100 min, The still blast through the area at 70 mph or greater. Mostly greater. Until people get out of bed early enough to not have to rush to work, they will never slow down. ;)
     
  7. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #7
    An identical argument was made in opposition to higher speed limits, and not without some credibility. A higher top end increases the delta in a lot of cases, particularly in areas with a lot of on-ramps. Merging traffic is going slower relative to average traffic speed, making right-side traffic much slower relative to full-speed left-side traffic.

    An experiment localized to Houston may have failed due to inconsistencies with speed limits on similar roads outside Houston. A local government setting more restrictive limits than the federal guidelines require would possibly engender a greater level of localized ire and rebellion than a nationwide change.

    You've got some burden of proof associated with the claim it "failed" and "people would not really stand for it." Sammy Hagar songs don't count. While a lot of us were growing up 55 was the speed limit. It wasn't even a question of whether it "failed" or "succeeded." The speed limit has to be some number and 55 was that number. It did succeed in saving gas. The only reason it was changed back was that gas got cheap enough we felt like we didn't need to save it anymore.
     
  8. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #8
    I agree and agree.

    I don't know how effective switching back to 55 on a national basis would be, but it would be more effective than localized implementations. Crossing into the Baltimore City section of 95 has no observable difference from the outside (65 to 55). Same with the DC Beltway (also 55).

    I also am a fan of driving 55, or as close as possible while maintaining a reasonable speed. That means that I am now the guy driving 60 on 95, 70 if I'm in a rush and traffic is moving really quickly. I would be a fan of dropping the speed limits back down to 55. I also think that imposing heavy excise taxes on vehicles with more HP/torque/etc than would ever be needed for the ordinary and reasonable use would encourage better national fuel management (clearly those purchasing for business use would be exempt).
     
  9. stevento macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    #9
    the 55 mph speed limit is legislation that Hillary Clinton introduced a few years ago. It lasted about several nanoseconds in Congress.
     
  10. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

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    #10
    wow...she should become the president...oh wait.


    Yea, this seems like a good idea. Also this is one of those issue where education is huge. Make it a law, but also get people on your side. Then they do it, like it, save money and gas.
     
  11. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

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    #11
    i must say i'll agree with you here.

    we need to push the auto industry into making more fuel efficient cars. not just SUV's: everything needs to become more fuel efficient. i mean my car from '95 gets about 30mpg in fairly mixed driving. most of the cars in the past five years are lucky to get that, and its called improvement?
     
  12. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #12
    It would really depend upon how strictly it was enforced.

    I read recently where some trucking companies have installed governers to limit the top speed of their trucks to 60.

    I would also have a hard time going back to 55 but I think 60 would be fine.

    In 2001 I rented a car and drove through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The autobahns of Germany can be pretty scary. I was cruising along at about 90mph in my Opel Astra and cars were passing me that must have been doing well over 120mph.

    In Slovakia, there were still a lot of Trabants and old Eastern Bloc farmtrucks that rarely topped 45 mph. Cars had a speed limit of about 65, big trucks about 50. It was very challenging driving.

    Here in California, trucks can go 60, cars 70 on the interstate.

    Anything over 10 mph for different classes of vehicles only raises the accident rate.

    Not only would it be good to tax "vanity" vehicles, it would also be good to create incentives for those with high mileage/low emissions.

    I hope Obama is willing to tackle this issue next year, bushco is so far into the pockets of the oil industry and by extension, Detroit, that there's absolutely no hope he'll do anything until then.

    It's pretty pathetic to see the POTUSA, on hands and knees begging the sheiks of Araby to solve a problem bushco has only made worse.
     
  13. cycocelica macrumors 68000

    cycocelica

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    #13
    They could do it, but people are set in their ways already. It's easier to tell people to go faster than slower. People are already going 70-75 in 60 zones (I am one of those). I think peoples time is more important than gas mileage (I fall under this category a lot of time.

    I don't think people want to be told to slow down. The government shouldn't have to tell us, people should just be smart and slow down. Those who want to go the speed limit, thats what the left lane was invented for (now people following that rule is a whole other story).
     
  14. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #14
    If people won't "double-up", or better, then they might have to suffer with the 55 limit.

    The age of "I want to be able to come and go on my own" are fast coming to a close.

    In rush hours around these parts, 95% of the vehicles have one person in them, the driver.

    If everyone just adopted one "buddy", there would be half the cars on the road during rush-hour.
     
  15. Badandy macrumors 68040

    Badandy

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    #15
    So do you want the police resources targeted at enforcing a super slow speed limit, or do you want them to protect neighborhoods and bad areas?
     
  16. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #16
    Does it cost more to enforce 55 than 65?
     
  17. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #17
    Super slow? I'm not sure how you came up with 55mph equaling super slow?

    Since when does the typical State Highway Patrol "protect neighborhoods and bad areas"?

    As with any change in traffic law, there will be a period of adjustment. If the fines are set high enough, and if cameras are used in areas where people speed the most, the impact would be minimal. It's possible that the fines themselves would provide a substantial portion of the funding.

    Throwing up straw men is generally a sign of avoidance of the root issue.

    Perhaps you'd care to offer up a solution?!?!
     
  18. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #18
    George Orwell called. He wants his big brother cameras back.

    Leave the speed limits where they are. If people really care about saving some extra cash, they can drive below the maximum speed limit (65). It's a speed limit, not a "required speed". As long as they stay above 45 and in the right lane (so people can pass them on the left), it's fine.

    Or, you know, the people who whine about gas prices and then drive these massive ****ing SUVs/8 cylinder cars could just sell them and get a nice 4-cylinder.
     
  19. cycocelica macrumors 68000

    cycocelica

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    #19
    My thoughts exactly.
     
  20. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    #20
    I'd have to agree with the opinions here that there is already nothing stopping people from driving slower on the highway - so if you want to do that - great.

    To the general consumption point - what about the miles people log in non-highway miles (eg. in the city). Almost all my driving is of this kind - and my mileage is crappier than highway cruising.

    I would think that at least for the near future - solutions to curb rising costs/consumptions should be aimed at the local/city level -- as these solutions are likely to be easier to implement and more reflective of the character of those affected.

    Hybrids seem great in the city, as driving slowly - you are not even using the engine (or only a little). Public transit experimentation - with trains, buses and so forth that adequately serve everywhere at a wide variety of hours would also get people out of their cars more. They can be powered by a variety of alternative fuels. I am sure there are some great and novel solutions out there...
     
  21. stevento macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    #21
    well, democrats are shameless when it comes to whimsical spending, so that's probably not the biggest issue. the biggest issue is getting to people to comply. and just think, there would be huge revenue the first couple years from speeding tickets.
     
  22. Badandy macrumors 68040

    Badandy

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    #22
    I'm not sure how you didn't. If there was no difference in exertion between walking and jogging, why should I walk? 55 is extremely slow, and the only difference between going that and 65 or 70 is a little more kinetic energy and gas, just like walking.

    Do you ever run for exercise? Maybe we should only say you can walk because, not only are you more of a hazard to other people who might run into you/who you might run into, you also probably have to eat more to compensate for your loss in calories, which in turn uses more fossil fuel energy than had you not gone for your run.

    There's only so much money to go around. If you increase presence, it costs money, which might otherwise be given to cities/counties to fund their police forces.

    I wondered how long this thread would go on until someone posted an argumentation buzzword.

    To what, high fuel prices? I don't know what people want. In one hand they want to curb global warming, which, if you trust the consensus, says that we are damaging our climate. This is due to the negative externalities of burning fossil fuels, which are not factored into prices you pay at the pump. If they were, gas would be more expensive and people would use less. OTOH, you have people complaining about the high price of gas and what we should do about it. So which one do you want?


    EDIT: And I second what zioxide said.

    If I want to drive my V8 faster than the speed limit, that's my choice. Sure, I might get a ticket, but that's the risk I run. If I cared about higher prices, I'd of course get a hybrid or a 4 cylinder and drive more slowly.
     
  23. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #23
    Hey I will complain about gas prices. I am projecting a $450+ gas bill for the month of May now and I drive a 4-cylinder Sentra. It hurts having to take on that cost.
     
  24. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #24
    No, it's actually not "your choice". It is the law, and it's the law for a number of reasons, not least of all the increased risk of collision and injury to persons other than yourself.
     
  25. cycocelica macrumors 68000

    cycocelica

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    #25
    But it is his choice to break the law.

    I just don't see this flying with the public. Try telling the millions of speeders in America to slow down or pay up. There will be a huge out cry for many reasons. If you want to go slow, by all means do it. Like I have said, there is a left lane. There is a right lane for others. I believe that people will begin to learn that speeding isn't fuel efficient. The human race, as much as it kills me to say this, is smart.

    Whether or not speeding is an increased risk is another topic.
     

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