Remember the 55 mph speed limit? Remember… ignoring it? Wired’s Autopia blog is wondering if we should consider bringing it back. Back in 1974 Congress passed the National Maximum Speed Law, and threatened to cut funding to any state that didn’t comply with the new 55 mph maximum speed limit. Theoretically, forcing everyone to drive slower increases fuel economy, and the oil embargo had people stressed. But did the lower speed limit work? Did we save gas?
The U.S. Department of Energy says gas mileage plummets above 60 mph and says every 5 mph above that speed is akin to paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas. But the American Heritage Foundation claims 12 years of 55 mph speed limits cut fuel consumption by just 1 percent. After Congress repealed the National Maximum Speed Law and 33 states raised their speed limits, the Cato Institute said traffic deaths dropped to a record low.
More than fuel economy and traffic deaths are at stake now. “Emissions increase pretty appreciably above 55,” McNaull says. drive55.org claims Washington state would cut CO2 emissions by 10 percent if it cut its 70 mph speed limit by 15 mph. But even here, the evidence is debated. The Automobile Association in England claims reducing the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 on residential roads would increase CO2 emission by more than 10%.
What do you think? Should we bring back the national speed limit?