All Cars Should Be Limited To 70 Miles Per Hour

Unless you live in Germany with access to the Autobahn or own a private race track, chances are good that you will never have a legitimate reason to travel at speeds faster than the law allows. You may want to travel faster than the speed limit and you may do so regularly, but you probably do not have any reason that the law would consider justifiable. Why then, do automobiles have speedometers that reflect speeds of as much as 120 miles or more per hour?
I don’t really have a good answer for that question. I suspect that high MPH speedometers are appealing to men who equate speed with machismo. On the other side of the spectrum, the possibility of traveling at 120 MPH may also give a sense of comfort to that segment of the population that anticipates a zombie plague and wants to be able to speed away from the armies of the undead. Other than that, there really is no practical need for cars that will travel fifty or more miles over the speed limit.

More than any other group, parents of children who are in their mid to late teen years appreciate the notion that cars can travel to fast. The freedom of the open highway and the power of a high performance vehicle can often be too seductive for a new driver to resist. After promising to follow the traffic laws and to wear a seat belt, Junior will carefully drive down the driveway and down the street, only to accelerate on the highway to 90 MPH. Eventually, fortunate parents find out about Junior’s driving when Junior comes home with a $278 speeding ticket. Less fortunate parents receive a much more traumatic call from a hospital.

Last week, a young man who lives in our community received such a speeding ticket. His parents did not want to risk getting a call from a hospital the next time their son hit the road (which won’t be for a while, in light of the ticket) so they have now put a governor on the car that he drives. The car will no longer travel at speeds in excess of 65 MPH – five miles below the maximum speed limit on our local highways.

I applaud their decision and their action. I also wish EVERY car sold or driven in the United States had to have a governor that limited speeds to 70 MPH, the maximum allowed in the USA (to the best of my knowledge). None of us has any reason to travel faster than the law allows and there are a lot of money saving reasons why we should not exceed the speed limit, for example:

Speeding Tickets are Expensive: Drive over the speed limit and the possibility of getting a speeding ticket are very real. Drive a lot over the speed limit and the charges can be more severe and more costly. In any event, if a driver does not speed, a driver will not get a speeding ticket.

Car Accidents are Even More Expensive: Drivers who exceed the speed limit are much less likely to be able to stop in the event of a sudden decrease in speed from the cars ahead. In chatting with a driving instructor recently, the instructor remarked that the speeders will congregate in a group on the highway. When the lead car slows down, the trailing cars pile up!

Speeders Force Greater Police Presence on Highways: If cars could not speed on highways, we would not need as many highway patrol officers and that would cut down on the need for tax dollars.

Cars Burn Less Fuel at Lower Speeds: The slower people travel, the less fuel that they need to use. That saves money, cuts down fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.

What do you think? Should cars and trucks all have governors that prevent highway speeding? If you do not favor governors, how can you justify the need to drive at speeds in excess of the speed limit?

This entry was posted in Cars, Personal Finance, Saving Money, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to All Cars Should Be Limited To 70 Miles Per Hour

  1. Annie Jones says:

    I believe there are several states that allow 75 mph on some of their roads, per some quick Internet searches.

    I agree that the “need for speed” seems more prevalent in young drivers; I know I’ve slowed with age.

    I also agree with you that it would be nice if cars simply couldn’t go faster than highway speed limits. I think another reason this could help reduce accidents is because it would make competitive driving on the highways less appealing.

    I use my cruise control on the highway as much as possible, which helps me a lot. Of course, it can’t be used in congested areas, some simply won’t use it, and others don’t have working cruise control (or any at all) on their vehicles.

  2. Jason says:

    I like your idea. Just to add a little more to the discussion:

    The way technology is advancing these days, I would not be surprised if 5 to 10 years from now there wasn’t an electronic governor in every car that was based on their geographic location (GPS). For example, if the GPS coordinates indicate one is in a 35 mph zone, then it will temporarily set the governor at 35 mph. If one exits onto the freeway with a speed limit of 65 mph, the governor resets to 65 mph.

    Ford is offering a new feature that allows the user to electronically limit the top speed.

  3. Brad says:

    This is the worst article of all time. You should be ashamed of yourself — this is America.

  4. Mark says:

    This is idiocy.

    In your example, Junior just learned an important lesson with tuition costs of $278 up front and an additional amount in what his insurance will cost in the future. But the real lesson is to either train your eyes to spot the Crown Vic/Charger/Impala/whatever and slow down, or budget ahead of time to pay for the privilege to drive however the hell fast you want and have a lawyer get the ticket amended to a non-moving violation.

    I enjoy driving faster than law allow. Current limits are too low given the safety and capability of today’s cars. It makes me happy to feel a car respond and tear down the road. It has nothing to do with machismo. It is a joy to drive fast.

    And unfortunately, most municipalities are dependent on revenues from traffic violations that such logical measures as raising limits will never be considered. Happily, where I live, I know that police generally do not ticket unless you are 10 mph or more over.

    If a parent wants to govern their child’s car, more power to them, but there is no reason to consider such lunacy across the board.

  5. ctech says:

    When I was in Argentina (1999-2001) a bunch of the highway buses had an annoying chime/bell that turns on when the driver goes over the speed limit. I don’t know if it was the bus company that installed them or the government… but it sure kept the driver at or below the speed limit.

    As far as having something like that on our cars here: I would say that I would want something like that that I could control, not the government. I think that it is okay for a parent to make a decision for their teenage drivers regarding speed limits and giving a reminder through a tone or chime. I think we can all agree that teenagers aren’t fully mature and thus may be more prone to making poor decisions when it comes to speed limits and driving. As a parent I consider driving a privilege for my teenager and having a speed-limit-reminder-tone be part of the privilege would be acceptable to me.

    However, it would be inappropriate for the government to do that. The relationship I have with my teenager IS NOT THE SAME relationship that the government has with me.

  6. Jaime says:

    I generally don’t drive faster than 75mph (in 70 mph zones) and I don’t have a legitimate reason to go faster – but I would absolutely be against any kind of government mandated controller placed on my car. If you want to reduce fatalities from auto accidents, then you should advocate for reducing all speed limits to no more than 35 mph. Yes, you need more time/road length to stop the faster you’re going but the statistical difference between 65 and 70 or 70 and 75 is not that great. And if you hit a pedestrian at 65, they’re just as dead as if you hit them at 75. I don’t know the statistics but I’m betting the odds of surviving being thrown from a car is not terribly greater at 60 mph than 70 mph, etc.

    That said, I had no idea you could put some kind of speed regulator on a car and I think that’s a funny/great idea for parents whose kids have cost them speeding tickets. I do not, however, agree at all that it should be set below the speed limit. I’m of the school that believes if you won’t/can’t go the speed limit on the highway then you need to have your hazard lights flashing to warn the people behind you that they may overtake you faster than anticipated.

    Basically, I disagree with you but just for mentioning a Zombie Plague, I’ll give you one thumbs up. 😉

  7. John says:

    I don’t see how “Speeders Force Greater Police Presence on Highways”. The cops i know say most police in this area on the highway are there looking for speeders. Since texting is more likely to cause an accident (according to the local no-texting campaign) than speeding i don’t see the correlation. I expect more texting occurs on city streets than the highway. If so then these cops don’t care about stopping accidents as much as stopping speeders.

    I’m not saying the governors are a bad idea. Just saying that the efforts could be better spent elsewhere. I actually had a car with a governor in it. Having it in the car got me out of a bogus speeding ticket. Cop “clocked” me going 77 MPH in a car governed at 70 MPH. Needless to say the judge threw the ticket out.

    As for the electronic governor that adjusts i’m all for it if the speed limits adjust to better match the road and conditions. Think highway 395 from Denio to Winnemucca in Nevada. Multiple stretches of road 10+ miles long with no turns. These roads should have speed limits closer to 90 MPH. There is nothing for hours and no other cars. I’ve also seen gravel roads that are a smoother ride than some highways. On these roads 55 tops.

  8. jIM says:

    Michigan would secede from the union if speed limit went under 80 mph

  9. Gary says:

    How about we let the various locals decide what the speed limit should be. I’m not quite sure where we got the idea that anyone can come up with the correct speedlimit for every place in the country. It’s far different driving in a place like Montana or Texas than it is in New Jersey or So. California.

    As a car guy, I can tell you that if you put in governors as suggested, not only will you increase accidents (it takes the ability to drive fast for certain passing and defensive maneuvers), but you’ll also create a new industry (disconnecting governors).

    Isn’t it time that we quit trying to legislate every little thing in this country based on what some group of experts thinks is best for everyone?

  10. cptacek says:

    No. Our nearest hospital is 20 miles away. At 60 mph it will take 20 minutes. At 90 mph it will take 13 minutes. 7 minutes can mean life or death in a true emergency.

  11. Gail says:

    Our car never goes over 65, that is the speed limit in my area. I prefer driving even slower. I also think some of the responders here are the true idiots (something I don’t think I have ever called anyone on these forums).

    So you like to drive fast, faster than everyone else on the road. I just hope you aren’t driving anywhere near me. It is dangerous whether you think so or not. Most people seem to think that it is okay to ignore the speed limit. Folks the speed limit is a law. We don’t get to decide which laws we obey and which we don’t. If you don’t obey them and get caught you get in trouble and if you don’t get caught it doesn’t make it any more legal.

    Also a point to those folks ONLY that drive with the ‘Honk if you love Jesus’ and ‘God is my co-pilot’ bumper stickers. If you think you are being a witness for Christ with these things, what does your speeding tell people? Christians are Biblically mandated to obey the laws of the land and if you are one of the speeders you are thumbing your nose at the very thing you are ‘witnessing’ about. Thnk about it!

  12. Ann says:

    Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Machismo???? Zombies???? David, David, David

    First, I’ve noticed in states which allow 75mph that my mpg actually increases, so don’t go making bets on that better gas mileage bit.

    Second, have you NEVER been on a straight road without another car in sight and been tempted to see exactly how fast your car can go? 🙂

    When I’m on truly open roads, the only thing that keeps me within 5mph of the speed limit is the speed control on my car.

    Must admit that I might feel a bit differently if I had a teenager… particularly one like me!

  13. Eric says:

    This article was clearly written by someone who knows nothing about how cars work. You’re thinking about maximum speed limits like a ruler. A 1-foot ruler is exactly 1 foot long. Speed limits are more like a measuring tape. Have you ever pulled a 10-foot measuring tape all the way out to the end? If you do, you’ll notice that the tape is more than 10 feet long. There’s another foot or two in there just in case to need all 10 feet of tape. That’s how a car engine works (and computers, and power drills, and the human body, and many other things).

    If you construct an engine with a maximum limit of 70 MPH, and then drive it at 70 MPH all the time, the thing will wear down and die very, VERY quickly. If you anticipate the average driver will be driving 65 MPH, you want to design the engine like the measuring tape, with a little extra. It’s not there so that you can drive around at 120 MPH all the time, it’s there so that when you drive around at 70 MPH, your engine will still last a long time. We need that extra reserve of power so that we’re not working our engines at maximum capacity every single time we get on the freeway.

    I’d also like to point out that many cars on the road are not actually capable of achieving the speed limit that’s printed on their speedometer. Just because it says it can go 120 or 150 doesn’t mean it actually can. I dated a girl in high school whose car would start shaking – yes, actually physically shaking – if she exceeded 90 MPH. The engine may be capable of such a speed, but the car’s chassis wasn’t.

    Finally, it should be noted that for many cars there’s a “sweat spot” for gas mileage. It’s incorrect to say that “The slower people travel, the less fuel that they need to use.” My car gets better gas mileage at 75 than it does at any other speed. The last car I owned got the best mileage at 45. There are far too many factors to make a sweeping generalization like that.

  14. Paul says:

    And then of course there are places like Redmond, where I live, that think it’s funny to randomly change the speed limit by 15mph (e.g from 65 to 50) at a random point on a perfectly straight 4-lane highway, or have radically different (25mph vs. 40mph) speed limits on different sides of a 4-way stop, just so they can nail people who weren’t expecting any such maneuver on the part of the city. The crime rate here is literally so low that most cops don’t have anything better to do than cruise for speeders all day, and situations like this just help them do it. I learned to drive in New England (where the cops don’t even bother warning you if you’re less than 15mph over the limit because they know just as well as everyone else that the limits are all set way too low), and I consider it to be nothing short of a miracle that I haven’t been nailed yet.

    This from the same city that has NUMEROUS stoplights with illegally-short amber times (seriously! illegal! the city has been successfully sued several times for it!) in order to catch more people “running” red lights because their car could not comfortably or safely slow from 45 (the speed limit) to 0 in wet conditions in the amount of time the amber was displayed.

    Plus, what are we supposed to do in the event of a zombie invasion when the nearest store with shotguns still in stock is 30 miles away?

  15. Adam says:

    I totally agree with David Mitchell, and I don

  16. Jesse says:

    I live in Montana. A lot of the highway speed limits are 75 mph here. In fact, the speed limit in Montana used to be “reasonable and prudent” and we didn’t even have numerical speed limits until 1999. Research your topic next time before posting such an inaccurate article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *