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Old 17th July 2008, 17:05   #1
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Default USA - Proposal to reduce Speed limit to 55 mph

Read a news item recently that a US Senator is proposing to impose a national speed limit of 55 mph to save gas. They had done it some time back to tide over the Arab oil embargo. Now they wish to do it again.

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...he cited studies that showed the 55 mph speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country's highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year.
National speed limit pushed as gas saver - CNN.com

Not sure how much really will be the impact as the compliance to the existing limits itself is only "indicative" and a reasonably wide margin is tolerated most of the time.

Last edited by appuchan : 17th July 2008 at 17:07.
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Old 17th July 2008, 17:07   #2
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Nice initiative, I would say, given that these guys consume the lion's share of petroleum resources in the world. 55mph is like 80kmph which is close to the speed at which maximum FE can be got for cars.
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Old 17th July 2008, 17:13   #3
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Ya,it can be a breather for US as they alone consume 24% of total oil production of the world.
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Old 17th July 2008, 17:14   #4
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He's gone nuts. I don't see this happening. If anyone does want to maximise FE, they have the option to cruise in the *green speed zone* all they want. But the majority wont mind sacrificing a marginal MPG figure for a faster freeway drive. 55 is too darn slow for most American freeways.
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Old 17th July 2008, 17:27   #5
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They will have to spend double the time on the highways & this wont be taken sitting. Cannot happen
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Old 17th July 2008, 17:33   #6
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Some interesting comments by readers in NYT community...

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Why should we lower the speed limit- My partner and I never entered the SUV phase- We both drive cars that get gas mileage in the mid 20-s- Lets put a limit on SUVs - right lane only and 50 miles an hour- Theres an idea- let the rest of us work and get where we are going
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Driving 55 would decrease US oil consumption immediately it would send a signal to the world that the US is serious about breaking its addiction to oil. This might have an impact on the price of a barrel of oil - certainly a much cheaper and more immediate impact than opening the coasts or the ANWR area to drilling.
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A national speed limit of 55 miles per hour, would be a wonderful law, if it became reality. First of all, just about all cars get much better fuel mileage at lower speeds. This is especially true for hybrid automobiles. With a lower speed limit, much less gasoline would be used and needed. When I worked for the government, we learned about how little time is saved by driving say 70 miles per hour versus 55 miles per hour, on an average trip. The argument that people give "I want to get there quickly" is a terrible argument for driving faster. However driving faster does cause more traffic fatalities and injuries. Cars wear out faster when driven faster, too. People also tend to get more angry and aggressive when they are in situations where they have to drive faster. This 55 mile per hour speed limit proposal makes a lot of sense.
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Great idea.
I've been driving at 55 MPH for several months now in my 1997 Honda Civic and have increased my gas mileage from 35-44MPG. It would be nice if I wasn't passed by EVERY other vehicle on the road.
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With today's cars 55 is unrealistic. The only thing that 55 would do is get more tickets written. Most tickets are "mickey mouse" and just a way to tax people.

Most governmets do not treat money recieved from finds and "Found Money." But had money from fines already budgeted. There is a standard amount of money that must be raised each month. So 55 would just feed the coffers of local governments. 55 bad idea.
Moving Too Fast to Drive 55 - Readers' Comments - The New York Times
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Old 17th July 2008, 17:40   #7
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I dont think that they will drive at 55 mph only. Its surely not going to work. IMO, they will end up collecting more fine for overspeeding, but this simply wont work.
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Old 17th July 2008, 18:07   #8
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It is an interesting piece. Think of driving on those never ending expressways at 55 miles. I like to confess once out of time constraint I drove at 110 miles on Ohio Turnpike for about 3 hours. Lucky I did not get a ticket. But they should look at some taxation policy like we have in India which pushes people to buy smaller vehicle. May be they would save more of Arctic Ice if they replaced all those Hummers and Grand Cherokees with Priusses , Civic hybrids and Ford Focusses. Detriot big 3 and Oil lobby has corrupted american minds into thinking that those frail women in Mid-forties really need to drive in Ford Expeditions and Chrysler Town and Countrys to reach home safe. When does that country think realistically? God save America!
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Old 17th July 2008, 18:09   #9
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They should instead spend that effort on building a country-wide public transport system. Most of my US clients that I chat with say that they're forced to get their cars to office due to the non-existence/availability of a public transport system or company transport.
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Old 17th July 2008, 18:20   #10
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Make car pooling compulsory, and let them know that 2 in a car is not car pooling!

When they have such large tracts of land, why cant they encourage production of Bio Fuels? ( not from corn please! ). This can have an immediate impact on the consuption, and allow them to keep their Humvees and cherookees too.
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Old 17th July 2008, 18:29   #11
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Hey, wait a minute! Though many states have 65mph as the upper limit on Interstate highways, isn't it true that in some mid-western states like Illinois the speed limit is 55mph anyways? Moreover the speed limits on state highways is 55 too. So it is not really that difficult to implement. The bankrupt Govt can make some money too on traffic tickets paid by bankrupt home-losing, car-losing speedos on the highways
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Old 18th July 2008, 05:31   #12
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Arrow fuel

Quote:
Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
Nice initiative, I would say, given that these guys consume the lion's share of petroleum resources in the world. 55mph is like 80kmph which is close to the speed at which maximum FE can be got for cars.
It sounds good on paper, but in practise for a big country like the U.S., this isn't really a practical option. The distances covered on a daily basis are large when you compare to the average distance in India.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theMAG View Post
They should instead spend that effort on building a country-wide public transport system. Most of my US clients that I chat with say that they're forced to get their cars to office due to the non-existence/availability of a public transport system or company transport.
That's very true!
New York City, Boston, Chicago and a few other cities are the only exceptions - they have excellent public transport systems in place, but in most states, once you're out of the cities, you're on your own.

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Originally Posted by smsrini View Post
Make car pooling compulsory.
When they have such large tracts of land
Car pooling does exist but again, making it compulsory is not entirely a practical option - a good reason is because of your second sentence.
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Originally Posted by sridhga View Post
Though many states have 65mph as the upper limit on Interstate highways, isn't it true that in some mid-western states like Illinois the speed limit is 55mph anyways? Moreover the speed limits on state highways is 55 too.
Delaware, as far as I know, is the only state that has a 55mph limit throughout. Most other states have a 65-75mph limit on the Interstates, which is reduced a 55-60mph limit near cities.
Speed limit on state highways follows the Interstate speed limit irregularly and isn't standardized at 55mph.

Consider this - an example of the difference in driving condtions in India, and the U.S.:
Mumbai to Nashik, a distance of 150km, takes around 3-1/2hrs to 4hrs.
New York to Baltimore, a distance of 300km, takes around the same time.
Practically speaking, the driving conditions can't be compared - they're vastly different.

A lot of people work in neighbouring cities, or even states. Now you reduce the limit to 55 from 65 and it makes a difference. Reducing speed limits isn't the answer to solving the fuel crisis.
Benefits (tax rebates) for buying compacts, and fuel efficient cars works better. I won't list hybrids here, because personally I think they haven't reached their full potential to be taken seriously just yet.
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Old 18th July 2008, 06:26   #13
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55 mph on US Interstates is just ludicrous. No one in Michigan drives below 80 mph even though the speed limit is 70 (except for some of the big trailers and old people).

If the Americans are serious about reducing gas consumption and pollution, they should revive Amtrak. Since the 80's it has been on a steady decline and people prefer going on road trips as flights are expensive. In fact they have reduced more than 40% of Amtrak's operations since the 80's and the same thing is also happening in Canada (it's called Viarail here).

A very good example is Japan and Europe. Although there are larger distances involved in the US, it's still significant for trips like NYC-Chicago or Detroit-Chicago. Imagine how much fuel you save if you travel by train for 4-12 hour journeys.

In fact the US is one of the only developed economies of the world which doesn't have a proper high speed rail system in place any more.
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Old 18th July 2008, 09:00   #14
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Americans and people across the world do overspeed and exceed the speed limits. The reasons for reducing the speed limits often cited is that most people exceed limits by 10-15 mph. Driving at 90 mph for a 55 mph invites serious penalties and is dangerous. Thus, at 55 mph, most people will still keep on driving at 65-70 mph. Want data that this happens. I have a OECD document on speeding, which is on my computer. Does this opinion agree with members who drive in developed economies.
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Old 18th July 2008, 09:54   #15
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I could give you a document which says increasing the speed limit actually brought accident rates down. So what? Just to say that there is no gospel truth, just different viewpoints.

Now, consider this - you bring down the speed limit. And some folks will adhere to it. Some will not. Most may still end up doing 70-80 mph and now the speed differential between the law abiding chap and the one who does not, is even greater. More chances of accidents.

Vasudeva, I do not know whether you have driven in the US, I have(though only for two months now) - and I can say this. Sometimes, you just need to keep up with the flow of traffic. If everyone around you is doing 70-80, and you are doing 55, you are a sitting duck and a disaster in waiting, IMO. Even 18 wheelers do above 70 on the freeways, and they don't look so nice when you see them in your rearview mirror, pottering around at 55.

Last edited by kuttapan : 18th July 2008 at 09:55. Reason: spelling
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