Should the Speed Limit Be Reduced to 55 mph Again?

morning coffeeToday’s question to get your morning rolling is, Should the speed limit be reduced to 55 mph again?

I find quite curious is that with all the complaining about gas prices, nobody has been willing to come out and say it’s time to go back to 55 mph speed limit again. I think that shows how much people detested being told how fast they could and couldn’t drive, but if people aren’t willing to slow down their speed, then do they really have the right to complain about gas prices?

Slower speeds do make a difference. It’s estimated that when we did have the 55 mph speed limit, it saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day which was about 2 percent of the country’s fuel consumption.

Now a lot of people will say that the speed limits should remain the same and if you want to save gas you should simply drive 55 mph. Have you ever tried to drive 55 mph on the highway? I did a couple years back when driving to see my sister in Canada and it can be dangerous to do so:

Highway 5 has a speed limit of 65 or 70 miles per hour depending which stretch you’re driving on. I drove between 60 and 70 for a six hour period and never passed another car – everyone was driving faster than me including trucks (technically I did pass a few truck on long uphill stretches, but I’m not counting these since all re-passed me when the road flattened out). While I didn’t seem to create too much anger on the highway when traffic was pretty light, that quickly changed when there was road construction and the highway went down to one lane.

Obviously it’s possible to drive 55 miles per hour, but I think you’d need a really hard skin to be able to pull it off on a consistent basis unless there is just not much traffic and it’s easy for cars to pass where you live. In fact, you could be putting your life on the line if you were unlucky and ran into someone with a fit of road rage. I especially think that after the way I was treated driving the speed limit in a few towns I visited.

It seems to me that we’ve reached a point where people are willing to complain about gas prices, but still aren’t willing to do some of the things that would actually help bring down prices by reducing demand. It sounds a lot like a person that wants to get their finances in order, but isn’t willing to make the necessary changes to do so…

Please share your own experiences on this topic as a wide variety of views and thoughts are helpful to everyone. If there is one thing that I have learned about personal finances from all of you is that there are always exceptions to the rule and differing circumstances can mean completely different solutions. If you have a blog and you have written about this topic in the past, feel free to link to your writing (although a short summary would be helpful). If you have recently read a good article on this topic, please links and share in the comments.

Image courtesy of amanky

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14 Responses to Should the Speed Limit Be Reduced to 55 mph Again?

  1. brundy says:

    The reason that nobody is mentioning it is because it’s a stupid idea. There is nothing worse that having to drive slow on a long trip. Besides, the time wasted driving slow makes it more expensive that driving fast and using a bit more gas.

  2. gloria says:

    There is no possible freaking way to drive 55 on the highways unless you want a big rig to run you over. The only cars that drive that slow are ones that are such pieces of junk that they can’t go any faster than that and ones driven by people with one foot already in the grave.

    I’ve read the truckers are starting to slow down to save on gas, but I haven’t seen any sign of that. And the SUVs still barrel along at speeds in excess of 70.

    It would be nice to be able to drive a bit slower to save some on gas, but I’m not going to risk my life trying to do it.

  3. shraz says:

    Wasn’t the whole speedlimit just a safety issue? Now that cars are pretty safe compared to 20 years ago, we should actually be increasing the speed limit.

  4. dean says:

    @ shraz,

    No, the speed limit was reduced to 55 due to the oil crisis in 1973 and the OPEC oil embargo at that time.

    National Max Speed Law

  5. Eli says:

    I wouldn’t mind driving the speed limit if people weren’t riding my back-side on the way to work. My mornings are generally spoiled by people who are sooo important that they have to be somewhere fast. Note to the self-important: if you have to be there fast, you’re not that important to where you are going. You are a drone.

  6. Wayne Foutz says:

    No one ever drove the speed limit when the 55 limit was in place before. All it meant was more ticket revenue for the police.

    I am a trucker. My truck runs comfortable at 60-65 mph. At 55, I have my choice of either putting the transmission in 10th gear and have my engine lugging because it’s only spinning at 8000 rpms or placing it in 9th gear and running at 1400 rpms which is wasting fuel. I’m not running 55 and tearing up my truck.

  7. Randy says:

    Yes, we should go back to 55 MPH as the highest speed limit; it never should have been raised to begin with.

    I usually drive 60-ish on interstates, and no one seems to get to upset about it…

  8. Kristian says:

    If we are passing laws to combat a national issue we should do something like make legislators and other government workers carpool.
    Reduce the number of police sitting in idling cars, put ’em on bikes where we can. Maybe we could tweek the regulations on oil companies, requiring them to stop the price-gouging.
    If, on the other hand, what is being suggested is to pass laws to ‘assist’ individuals with their gas consumption. That is a really bad idea. Forcing people to do anything in the name of their own wellbeing is un-American.

  9. Brad C says:

    The idea of a 55 mpg National Maximum Speed Limit is as stupid today as it was back in 1974 with disco music, polyester clothing, inflation. It deserves to remain in the dustbin of history and as an example of dumb policy.

  10. SaveForHouse says:

    I have to agree with the first comment by brundy. If the 2% savings on gas consumption outweighs the time opportunity loss of the average American, we’re in pretty big trouble!!! I like to take the optimistic standpoint and have faith in the the hard working individual. Leave the speed limit alone, we are all already stretched for time. Time is more valuable than money in my opinion.

  11. Russ says:

    Some of your readers obviously didn’t get past 8th grade algebra.
    The government should adjust highway taxes to maintain the $4/gallon price and use the added tax revenues for transprtation infrastructure improvement. This would help the economy in many ways and keep the pressure on the auto industry to produce more fuel efficient products.

  12. Lynn says:

    I’m with Randy on this one. I drive about 112 miles to work each day that I go into the office and I stick to 60-65 miles per hour on a highway with a 65 mph limit. The limit used to be 70 but it was lowered last year. I do get passed, but as long as I only get into the left lane to pass other people, no one rides my tail or throws their hands up at me.

    I drive slower than the speed limit simply because I noticed that my Miles Per Gallon readout in my car did get lower when I drove faster. I went back to driving slower and my MPG increased enough that I took notice.

    As long as you take the attitude that the left lane is for passing, most people really don’t care if you’re a slower driver.

  13. Eric Davis says:

    I had exactly the same experience on I-5 during a round trip from Sacramento to Los Angeles. By setting the cruise control to 60mph and not worrying about the anxious drivers behind me, I averaged 59mpg, an increase of over 15% for my vehicle.

    Important note: at first I was a little concerned about possible road rage. Then I realized, if I was in a big truck they would have just passed without any anxiety.

  14. anthony says:

    i can get 30 mpg in my cadillac at 75 mph with the windows closed and no a/c and another day i got 28 mpg at 65 mph with the a/c on. i dont think anyone cares about 55 mph limits, they go 70-80 no matter what. the freeway that leads to my school is 50 mph, but people still manage to go 60-70 mph. the only people who really go 55 are old people driving mercury grand marquis with 2 hands at the top of the steering wheel. my brother goes no slower than 70, he goes around 62-67 mph. my average speed on the highway is 74 mph.

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