I Could Drive 55

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This past week I passed the aftermath of a fatal accident on a highway. The next day when I looked up the accident report I learned that the victim was a thirteen year old boy. He was travelling with his dad and brother. According to the news “Troopers say (the father), was driving a Honda Civic when he came up behind the slower moving tractor-trailer. The(driver) started to change lane, but hit the back end of the rig, sending his car into a skid across the median.” The posted speed limit for the area is 70 miles per hour. It is believed he was going slightly in excess of that while passing.

I can’t help but wonder how different the outcome would have been if everyone had been driving slower. I am not the only one who thinks slowing down can save lives. An article at US News and World Report stated:

Researchers tracking fatalities attributed 12,545 deaths and 36,582 injuries in fatal crashes to higher speed limits implemented during the 1995-2005 study period.

“Our study clearly shows that policy can directly result in more deaths as well as reducing deaths on our country’s roads,” said lead researcher Lee S. Friedman of the division of environmental and occupational health sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

While the savings are minimal slowing down also saves on fuel. I don’t know about you but even minimal sounds like a step in the right direction to me given the pain I feel every time I fill up. According to the Sierra Club you not only save fuel at lower speeds but leave less of a carbon foot print as well.

The final added benefit that I am aware of is that it reduces our dependence on foreign oil. drive55.org tells us:

In 1974 the 55 MPH national speed limit was enacted as an emergency measure to reduce our dependence on imported crude oil that totaled about 36% of U.S. consumption. It worked and 1985 marked a record low of less than 28% imported oil. About this same time Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive Fifty Five” was made popular and in 1987 congress relaxed the law to allow 65 MPH on Rural Highways. Consumption of imported oil began to skyrocket but nonetheless in 1996 the national 55 MPH speed limit was repealed and 12 years later, in 2008, U.S. dependence on imported oil has more than doubled to over 60%.

Unlike Mr. Hagar I think I could drive 55. My time is valuable but it is not more valuable than my life. It is not more valuable than my children’s lives. How about you – could you drive 55?

- Maggie AAR

8 Responses to “I Could Drive 55”

  1. Wendy says:

    Maybe in a 40.

    Not to make light of the fatality you saw, but I remember 55 as agonizing.

  2. Clutterconqueror says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I’m very disappointed that my state (Illinois) has just upped the limit to 70 mph from 65 mph which means every one will be going 80 instead of 75.

    My opinion is that the trucking industry has pushed for the move in order to increase shipping times. This is especially disturbing to me as I’ve been noting an increase in truck traffic. And even more distressing is the increase in dangerous practices by truck drivers. I have actually seen a trucker watching his iPod, yes his iPod. He was holding it above the steering wheel and watching some sort of video or movie. This was in busy Chicago traffic. Then on the interstate I saw a double trailer weaving back and forth in his lane. He would hit the lane markers on one side then weave over to the other side. Clearly he was a distracted driver. Trying to pass this guy was more than scary.

    So, yes, I would much prefer a 55 mph limit.

  3. LeeB. says:

    Thankfully I don’t drive. Of course, as a pedestrian, I have to be super careful when crossing streets because some drivers like to go through red lights.

  4. lor says:

    Most of the time when I’m driving on the highways here I’m doing 50 or 55 mph. Of course here in British Columbia, many highways are posted as 90 kilometres per hour, which is about 55 mph, but there are many stretches posted as 80 kph, which is about 50 mph. Seldom see any highways posted at 100 kph (about 62 mph) or 110 kph (about 68 mph).

    Even when everyone is speeding (which frequently happens), especially in the 80 kph zones, they’re still only going about 90 or 100 kph, much slower than the posted speeds in many American states.

  5. Melanie says:

    I’m so used to traffic at home where:
    -the posted speed limit is 60mph
    -most people go about 5-10 miles over the speed limit
    -which means that anyone going under 65mph gets tailgated within an inch of their life

    I’m not sure I could deal with 55mph speed limits, but I have a feeling that around here, it wouldn’t really make any difference.

  6. maggie b says:

    I just saw another highway accident last night. Tractor trailer rear ended (and totaled) a couple of cars. I think the truck drivers are probably pushed to move as fast as possible. Not the safest thing for the rest of us.

  7. PatF says:

    Fifty-five always seemed like a reasonable speed limit to me. My adult children tell me it is a good thing I live in a rural area as I would never survive in and around a large city where everyone seems to be in a huge hurry to get somewhere.

  8. Joane says:

    Reducing road mortality is a very complex fenomenon. The problem is not only the speed limit -that people thend to ignore everywhere- but also the distance between vehicles, for example.
    I have read that in Germany there’s no speed limit in the highways, but they don’t have more accidents because everybody respect the distance between vehicles. If this is true, I think the problem is not only a matter of speed.
    Here in Spain the limit is 50 km/h in towns, 90 km/h in normal roads and 120 km/h in highways, but mortality has been reducing each year during the last decade thanks to certain politics, for instance, nowadays fewer people -compared to the past- take their cars when they have been drinking. The ‘driving license by points’ have been very useful in this aspect.