I Can’t Drive 55!
I just had this horrible flashback from those sullen years that defined the Jimmy Carter presidency. After his monumental and continuous display of presidential failure why oh why take a page from the Carter playbook. Yet, Senator John Warner (R-VA) is considering the return to a national speed limit of 55.
Sen. John Warner asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide optimum gasoline efficiency given current technology. He said he wants to know if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit.
Warner cited studies that showed the 55 mph speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country’s highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year.
“Given the significant increase in the number of vehicles on America’s highway system from 1974 to 2008, one could assume that the amount of fuel that could be conserved today is far greater,” Warner wrote Bodman.
Warner asked the department to determine at what speeds vehicles would be most fuel efficient, how much fuel savings would be achieved, and whether it would be reasonable to assume there would be a reduction in prices at the pump if the speed limit were lowered.
Energy Department spokeswoman Angela Hill said the department will review Warner’s letter but added, “If Congress is serious about addressing gasoline prices, they must take action on expanding domestic oil and natural gas production.”
The department’s Web site says that fuel efficiency decreases rapidly when traveling faster than 60 mph. Every additional 5 mph over that threshold is estimated to cost motorists “essentially an additional 30 cents per gallon in fuel costs,” Warner said in his letter, citing the DOE data.
Conservation is a good thing, so anyone with an ounce of common sense is not against conserving gas. But as a means of national growth it’s a fool’s ploy. Driving 55 will not produce a greater supply of oil, it will not reduce oil imports and it will not affect the climate one way or the other.
The pennies you might save will not only be lost in the frustration of having to drive 55, but the cost of the eventual speeding tickets and the resulting higher insurance rates will more than take away any gas savings you might enjoy.
In case you haven’t noticed, speeding tickets have become quite a cash cow for the state coffers. Highway robbery has been going on for centuries; it’s just now the government is doing it with immunity.