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Thread: Reinstating "55," Are They Crazy?!

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    Default Reinstating "55," Are They Crazy?!

    Reinstating "55," Are They Crazy?!
    May 29th, 2008 Posted in Speed Limits

    By James Baxter, NMA President

    The same forces that resisted the use of fire many thousands of years ago are still with us, only now they are advocating the return of the national maximum speed limit of 55 miles per hour.

    Anyone who endured the last 22 year long “experiment” with the “folly of 55” knows that this proposal goes beyond being absurd.

    The only likely beneficiaries are insurance companies (ticket surcharges), local governments that live off speed traps, P.R. firms (the genius creators of public service ads like “Save Gas Save Lives, Drive 55”) and perhaps the radar detector industry. In return, the driving public is treated to aggravation, maddening traffic flow, tickets, bloated insurance premiums, and billions of hours of lost time.

    As in 1973, the justification for a snail’s pace speed limit on major highways is that it will save gasoline (and now reduce global warming).

    It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. The reasons are many.

    For starters only two percent of the four million miles of streets, roads and highways in the US have speed limits in excess of 55 miles per hour (approximate numbers). Of those there are many that suffer congestion and construction on a regular basis such that traffic is lucky to maintain a 40 MPH pace, let alone 55 miles per hour.

    It’s true that our Interstate system carries about one third of our daily traffic volume, but here too congestion, construction, and bad weather frequently limits traffic to sub 55 speeds. In many urban areas the Interstates are already posted at 55. Granted, when conditions allow the actual speeds might be 70 or 75 MPH, but clearly the speed limit is not the controlling factor.

    That brings us to point #2, public compliance.

    After 22 years of propaganda, millions of tickets, and billions in insurance surcharges, actual motorist compliance on Interstate type highways ranged between five and ten percent. Those in compliance were typically mechanically unable to exceed 55.

    Did it save fuel? In 1984, in what started out to be a promotional “study” of the “Benefits of the 55 MPH National Maximum Speed Limit” the Transportation Research Board (Part of the National Academy of Science) determined that keeping the 55 MPH speed limit, versus allowing the states to raise the limit to 65 MPH, would result in a 0.18 percent (less than two tenths of one percent) fuel savings (Source: TRB Report, 55: A Decade of Experience; page 176)

    This is not an amount that will devastate the oil economy of the Middle East. The same study did determine that the 55 MPH national speed limit was wasting approximately one billion man hours a year (page 123). This did not include state trooper man hours being burned up enforcing an arbitrary speed limit on the safest highways in the nation.

    Along with misallocating enforcement resources, the federal law forced the states to play games with their highway monitoring data, gaming the numbers so it appeared that traffic was moving slower than it really was. The states were supposed to maintain 50 percent compliance with the federal limit, they couldn’t come close, at least not honestly.

    Safety? Today the national and the interstate highway fatality rate is far lower than at any time during the “55 era.” In fact, the last time the fatality rate increased from year to year was in the mid 1970’s when compliance and enforcement were at their highest levels.

    High fuel costs are certainly a burden. As individuals we can drive less, use more fuel efficient vehicles, and even drive slower, if we wish. But no sane person should wish another 55 MPH speed limit on the country. We already have a dysfunctional aviation system, let’s not allow the same thing to happen to our highways.
    The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

    2006 Porsche 997 Carerra Coupe 6-MT - daily driver
    1992 Honda (Acura) NSX 5-MT - classic investment I couldn't resist and occasionally drive
    2004 Honda S2000 AP2 6-MT - track day car
    2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR 6-MT - when I need a backseat, 4-doors, or a real trunk, and still want to haul ass . . .

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    KINOD time attack kenchi's Avatar
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    i think the speed limit should be raised to 80mph. this way it will induct somewhat of a "survival of the fittest" situation.

    or what they really need to do is make "x-MPH Lanes". self explanatory i guess. realistically this wont work because theres always someone going 40mph on the fast lane.

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    Driver upgrade 2.51 JC3D's Avatar
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    I CANT DRIVE 55
    John
    #522 996 Spec / GTS3
    JC3D // Racecars and Keyframes // 996 Spec

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    Senior Member zjchaser's Avatar
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    In traffic school once the instructor was talking about how he felt the carpool lane should be replaced with a 100mph+ lane that you needed a special license and frequent tech inspections to be allowed to use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zjchaser View Post
    the carpool lane should be replaced with a 100mph+ lane that you needed a special license and frequent tech inspections to be allowed to use.
    +1
    The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

    2006 Porsche 997 Carerra Coupe 6-MT - daily driver
    1992 Honda (Acura) NSX 5-MT - classic investment I couldn't resist and occasionally drive
    2004 Honda S2000 AP2 6-MT - track day car
    2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR 6-MT - when I need a backseat, 4-doors, or a real trunk, and still want to haul ass . . .

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    Professor Chaos thefrush's Avatar
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    Autobahn.
    "The crashes people remember, but drivers remember the near misses" -Mario Andretti

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    Motorsports Photographer imager993's Avatar
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    Like AJ's idea, I've always thought there should be a "20mph+" sticker that would allow you to drive 20mph over the speed limit on highways when conditions allow. You would of course have to take a driving test to get one. It would be a bright colored sticker placed at the highest point of your vehicle facing forward and backwards. That way a cop could see the sticker from a ways off and not have to bother pulling you over to see if you have the special license.

    Ah, it is nice to dream.

    ---

    Even with lots of people talking about it, I could never see a 55mph speed limit actually going through. If it ever made it to the point of actually being voted on, I think it would be shot down pretty quickly. Otherwise...

    .
    Aaron Kupferman | 2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe | Visual Effects Electric Reality | Motorsports Photography Motorsport Lens | Other Photography AaronKupferman.com

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    Chest hair required Olitho's Avatar
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    Personally I really think the national speed limit should be 42 MPH.

    We could all save fuel and stop global warming, seriously!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olitho View Post
    Personally I really think the national speed limit should be 42 MPH.

    We could all save fuel and stop global warming, seriously!
    If the NMSL was 10 mph there would never be another fatal automobile crash. Let's go for it!!!
    The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

    2006 Porsche 997 Carerra Coupe 6-MT - daily driver
    1992 Honda (Acura) NSX 5-MT - classic investment I couldn't resist and occasionally drive
    2004 Honda S2000 AP2 6-MT - track day car
    2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR 6-MT - when I need a backseat, 4-doors, or a real trunk, and still want to haul ass . . .

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    Chest hair required Olitho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard EVO View Post
    If the NMSL was 10 mph there would never be another fatal automobile crash. Let's go for it!!!
    Well let's not go overboard. I have seen studies where 42 MPH would eliminate our dependence upon OPEC.

    And as far as track days and racing goes, quite frankly if we have enough money to be doing something as selfish and extravagant as that, well we just are not paying enough in taxes given our problems in the urban areas, school funding problems, etc.

    And our track avocation really is an obscene assault on our precious environment and a galling indulgence.


    Oli

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olitho View Post
    Well let's not go overboard. I have seen studies where 42 MPH would eliminate our dependence upon OPEC.

    And as far as track days and racing goes, quite frankly if we have enough money to be doing something as selfish and extravagant as that, well we just are not paying enough in taxes given our problems in the urban areas, school funding problems, etc.

    And our track avocation really is an obscene assault on our precious environment and a galling indulgence.


    Oli
    You have lost your mind . . .
    The deposed former Sheriff of trackHQ . . .

    2006 Porsche 997 Carerra Coupe 6-MT - daily driver
    1992 Honda (Acura) NSX 5-MT - classic investment I couldn't resist and occasionally drive
    2004 Honda S2000 AP2 6-MT - track day car
    2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR 6-MT - when I need a backseat, 4-doors, or a real trunk, and still want to haul ass . . .

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    Master of Disaster SteveLevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olitho View Post
    Well let's not go overboard. I have seen studies where 42 MPH would eliminate our dependence upon OPEC.

    And as far as track days and racing goes, quite frankly if we have enough money to be doing something as selfish and extravagant as that, well we just are not paying enough in taxes given our problems in the urban areas, school funding problems, etc.

    And our track avocation really is an obscene assault on our precious environment and a galling indulgence.
    Who are you and what have you done with Oli?



    Steve

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