Should we return to the 55 mile per hour speed limit?

for 22 years we had a National Speed limit of 55 miles per hour. This was a cruel law as it is psychological torture to try to drive only 55 on a multi-lane highway designed for speeds of 75+. Now, thanks to the Republican Congress in 1995, we have returned speed limit decision where it belongs…with the states. Most states have limits of 65 or 70 and over a dozen have a limit of 75. Plus, there are more people on our highways, driving more cars, and more miles. Yet the fatality rate has not exploded like 55 backers insisted it would. In fact, in some locales the rate has dropped!

All I remember in those 22 years is the ranting of liberals about how there would be mass highway carnage if the double nickel were dumped. It didn’t happen, did it?

So, is there anyone who can make a case for returning to the lunacy of the 55 speed limit? Let’s hear it, I could use a laugh!

I’ll chime in to mention that the original statistical study done when the speed limit was dropped under Carter was flawed. Yes, fatalities went down. But an argument could be made that because of stagflation and the gasoline crisis people merely drove a lot fewer miles, and that was the true cause of the decrease in fatalities.

An increase in speed means an individual driver spends less time on the road, and therefore has less of an opportunity to get into an accident. Although the experiment in Montana, where fatalities did increase after speed limits were removed on highways completely, shows that some sane limit does need to be encouraged, fifty five seems to be arbitrarily low and such a limit may have actually caused an increase in fatalities.

Keep in mind that cars are of better quality nowadays, too, with better handling at high speeds.

Yet, here in NYC, we’re bound by a speed limit of 50!! :frowning:

Zev Steinhardt

Not to mention improved safety features such as airbags.

As Homer said when this was his high school debate topic:

“Oh sure, it might save a few lives. But millions will be late!”

I think there should be NO speed limit at all. Spare me the scenery and get me where I’m going.

Actually, no speed limit would be a good way to control the population.

I believe one of the major reasons for putting the 55 limit up was not so much to save lives but to save gas, as 55 is supposedly the most fuel efficient speed at which to drive. Keep in mind this was done during the oil crisis, and that I hadn’t been born yet, so I could have this wrong. I just remember this point being brought up when my native California decided to up its limit to 65, which is still about 10mph below the 75 that everyone drives at anyway when the highways aren’t clogged.

So I suppose one should ask whether fuel efficiency is still an issue, I’m not so sure it is. I mean, if people really wanted fuel efficiency they wouldn’t be buying so many SUV’s.

Actually, the optimal speed is somewhere in the 40 mph range, not fifty.

Excessive speed kills, and while I have no problem with 65 or 70 in most rural places, I think the police/troopers need to focus their efforts on folks who are cruising at 80+ mph–and the fines for such infractions should be exponentially higher for them. While one can drive reasonably safely at, say, 80 in Amarillo, Texas or parts of Nevada, etc., it is simply too fast in other cases and no one should have the right to recklessly endanger other motorists. Tailgaiting and excessive speeds do not mix, nor does alcohol.

My pet peeve are those highway Mad Max’s who use the slow (right) lane to do their speeding and go slaloming from lane to lane around slower cars–all just to avoid getting a speeding ticket.

Actually, cruising at around 80 is not that dangerous, it weaving in and out of traffic that is dangerous. I think those are the folks that should be punished exponentially. In fact, since the 5 freeway in Orange County was expanded to 6 lanes (what a luxury!) the flow of traffic is usually around 75 - 80, and there hasn’t been a major increase in accidents there.

In my opinion, so long as you are with the flow of traffic, a speeding ticket should not be issued, (except in special cases such as school zones). Tickets should be reserved for the worst offenders, the ones who weave in and out of traffic and turn without using their blinkers :smiley:

Maybe because some people are now afraid to drive on the interstates, so they avoid it as much as possible, reducing traffic.

Maybe because some people are now afraid to drive on the interstates, so they avoid it as much as possible, reducing traffic.

I think 60mph is a good speed. 65 is too fast and 55 too slow.

** Maybe because some people are now afraid to drive on the interstates, so they avoid it as much as possible, reducing traffic.

I’m not sure that that is really true at all. In fact, traffic data seems to be indicating that highway traffic is increasing.

It was NOT the ranting of liberals you were hearing for 22 years, it was the ranting of fascist control freaks. Thank God President Clinton signed the law to return the speed limit to a more reasonable value.

Could it have possibly been people who, although mistaken, were genuinely concerned with people’s lives?

Nah!!! It was the fascist liberal nazi communist homosexual atheists! From Mars!

Actually that is how we were taught that you’re supposed to drive. Your ass should not be in the left lane unless you are actively passing someone. As soon as you are around them move back into the right lane. When everybody is doing it, it prevents some moron from hanging out in the left lane going the same spped as the guy in the right lane, and causeing a huge backup of people who want to go faster. To bad that it isn’t the norm anymore.

The major reason for the national 55 mph speed limit was energy conservation. The suggestion that it would save lives was mostly political manoevering to help make the law palatable to the public.

One of the reasons accident rates didn’t change much when the speed limit went back up again is because it didn’t change the speed at which people actually drive. I don’t live in the U.S., but I travel there quite a bit and I don’t think I ever saw an interstate where everyone was travelling 55. The flow of traffic always seemed to be 60-65, and that’s probably what it still is.

There have been plenty of studies done to show that people tend to drive in such a way as to match their personal feeling about risk. Put people in safer cars, and they tend to drive faster. Put them in better handling cars, and they drive faster. These same studies indicate that people are actually pretty good at determining safe speeds. For instance, when road conditions are poor, people voluntarily slow down way below the speed limit.

Anyway, when you set the speed limit artificially low (i.e. lower than the speed drivers are comfortable with), you set up a dangerous situation in that you get some people going 55 and some people going 65, thus causing a lot of lane changing, tailgating, etc. I think it’s safer to be on a road where all the traffic is going 65 than to be on a road where half the cars are going 55 and the other half are going 65.

Here in Canada, we never had a national speed limit. The major highway between Edmonton and Calgary has a speed limit of 110 km/h (about 70 mph), and the flow of traffic on it is substantially higher, at about 75-80 mph. That highway is also just packed with cars. Yet it’s a very safe drive.

I agree with wolfman.
This weekend I drove westbound I-96 in Michigan. I joined a group of like minded drivers who were crossing the state at speeds of 80-85 mph. We were a pack of four to six cars that simply wanted to go faster. I felt quite safe. No one was tailgating or darting into the right lane to pass. Instead we waited for those hogging the passing lane to get over. Fast driving isn’t necessarily aggressive driving. The consequences of accidents at higher speeds do, however, tend to be more dire.

The highway is for gamblers. You’d better use your sense. - Bob Dylan

Revtim wrote:

HEY! Don’t be dissin’ Martians!!

zev_steinhardt wrote:

Not that you can go anywhere near that fast in New York City, what with all your traffic congestion…