Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Back to the 55mph speed limit?

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When the “double-nickel” was last mandated, the truckers were loud in their protests. Some truckers created rolling road-blockers, driving side-by-side at 55 mph so no one could pass. But this time the truckers are requesting lower speed limits. The story from McClatchy Washington Bureau by Dave Montgomery begins:

Is the double-nickel speed limit ready for a comeback?

Congress thus far has shown no movement toward resurrecting the 55-mph speed limit, but one of the Senate’s senior members — Republican John Warner of Virginia — says it’s time to start the conversation about an energy-saving national speed limit to help spare Americans from usurious fuel costs.

The 55-mph limit was imposed by federal law during the energy crisis of the mid-1970s, remained in effect for 20 years and ultimately was booted off the roadways by Congress in 1995 amid near-universal contempt among motorists.

Warner hasn’t specified what a new limit should be, but he points out that Americans saved 167,000 barrels of petroleum a day when the 55-mph speed limit was in effect. He told fellow senators this week that he’ll probably proceed with legislation after the Energy Department determines the most fuel-efficient speed limit for the nation’s highways.

“We have to take the lead in Congress, and hopefully the president will join,” Warner said on the Senate floor. “We have that duty.”

Among those joining the call for a national speed limit are truckers, who’ve been hammered by diesel fuel costs expected to reach $135 billion this year, $22 billion more than last year.

American Trucking Associations, which represents 3.5 million truck drivers and 37,000 trucking companies, is asking Washington to set a national limit of 65 mph. A 10-mile reduction from 75 mph, spokesman Clayton Boyce said, would lower fuel consumption by 27 percent.

Since 55 was abolished as the national speed limit, states have been free to set their own. The limit in most states, according to the American Automobile Association, is 65 or 70, and several states allow 75. In desolate stretches of far West Texas, motorists are allowed to do 80.

Try driving 55 on any stretch of open road in America today and it’s easy to see why a return to the double nickel — as it was nicknamed during its two-decade life span — seems remote. But a Web site operator based in Sacramento, Calif., who’s an authority on the 55-mph speed limit says attitudes are shifting rapidly as the cost of gasoline climbs.

“There has been a tremendous uptick in interest,” said Tim Castleman, whose Internet-based Drive 55 Conservation Project urges drivers to keep the needle no higher than 55. Responses to his Web site, which Castleman said ran about even between pro and con, offer an unscientific gauge of the current mood toward the 55-mph limit.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2008 at 11:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

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