Once mandated in the 1970s — but eventually discarded for 65-75 m.p.h. limits handled by individual states — the concept has resurfaced as oil and gas prices have rocketed to record heights.
A news story published this morning in USA Today brought out the naysayers in droves. An overwhelming majority of the story’s commenters online booed and hissed at the notion that they should do any such inconvenient thing.
Some main complaints are being echoed throughout the comments chamber:
- The government wants to inflict increasing pain on the public; high gas prices — now this?!
- Law enforcement is losing revenue because so many people have taken it upon themselves to slow down (the implied reason is because it makes sense to do so), so lower limits will once again pad the coffers of the highway patrol.
- If a cross-country vacation takes that much longer to drive, all savings are spent on additional hotel stays — so why bother?
- Anyone who wants to drive 55 m.p.h. can now, so let them choose to do so and let the rest drive faster (legally).
- Traffic jams will worsen if everyone is required to drive slower.
- 55 is too slow!!!
In general, the comments are largely filled with complaints and sarcasm and anger. (Ahhh, the modern American way: Call everyone with ideas idiots; “Status quo or bust!”)
Now, I don’t know if driving 55 m.p.h. saves the world or not. But I’m willing to find out the information before spouting venom with abandon.
(By the way, where are all of these passionate voices about things that matter, things that impact more than mere individual conveniences — such as for global warming and recycling and…?)
The USA Today story says Senator John Warner (R-Va.) introduced a bill last month that orders a study be carried out to test the effects of a national 60 m.p.h. limit.
Spearheading an effort that goes five notches lower, Tim Castelman, is promoting the Drive 55 campaign.
By the way, Castelman is being lambasted in the string of comments left at USAToday.com. (Maybe I will be too once I publish this blog post, but such is life with 21st Century media.)
But he must be used to it, judging by the hate e-mails he posts at drive55.org. It’s astounding the seething, loathing, misspelled, incoherent, babbling hatred of this guy and the project as a whole.
(Digression: Again, let global warming and poverty and countless other ills of the world go un-noticed, but send a man with ideas that may just be worthwhile notes that proclaim undying love for Exxon and BP and include words that George Carlin wasn’t allowed to utter on stage.)
Like I said, I don’t know the numbers on benefits from driving slower. Obviously neither do a lot of other people or we wouldn’t need Warner’s proposed study to be done for the latest and greatest understanding of this situation.
What I do know is that when I drive 55 m.p.h. — I have to in my 1973 VW bus; and we sometimes choose to in our 2008, 30-plus m.p.g. Honda Civic — I am more relaxed. I slip into the right lane and just coast, letting all of the madness and road rage roll around me.
(Then I get to where I’m going, really not all that much later than those who’ve freaked out, white-knuckled and high-blood-pressured, all the way home.)
And that, even if only for that, is reason enough to love 55 m.p.h.