Senator John Warner has asked Samuel Bodman the Energy Secretary to review information that would reveal what the ideal speed limit would be that would allow the most efficient use of gasoline in our vehicles today. With gasoline prices topping $4.15 cents a gallon around the country the timing couldn’t be better to encourage changes in the way that we drive.
Many Americans have already started to alter aimless driving habits. I see nothing wrong with that…we all could do better in planning where we go and what we do while we are out and about. Some people are in denial about the severity of the situation regarding supply and demand as well as all of the damage to our planet that our carelessness has brought.
Would the general population get behind a national drive 55 speed limit? I think it is going to take some convincing as it will be viewed by many as an inconvience after being legally allowed to drive up to 70 mph on some highways. After all, it will take longer to get where they are going. I think more people would be willing to do it if they felt that the automakers were doing more to ensure that we were getting more miles to the gallon by the way that they factory set the computers on our vehicles to use the gasoline we spend our hard earned dollars on.
Back in the seventies, I remember the drive 55 campaign; it was something like, Stay Alive…Drive 55. The focus was on safety. There are studies that show that driving 55mph saves up to 4,000 lives a year from traffic deaths. That is a serious number of lives that could be saved. Is it worth the inconvience of driving a slower speed on the highway if it saves families from prematurely loosing loved ones? I think so. Do i WANT to be slowed down…not necessarily, however; if i stop and think that maybe one of those loved ones that could be saved could possibly be one of my own family or friends…definately, slowing down is worth the inconvience.
Senator Warner refers to the previously mentioned studies that show that 167,000 barrels of oil a day could be saved by driving 55 mph. With the cost over $141.00 a barrel; that could be a significant savings of both oil and money. Is that reason enough to lower the national speed limit to 55mph? Driving 55 instead of 70 or 75 ( we all know people drive at least 5 miles over the limit because they get away with it) can save up to 25% of the United States oil consumption. So, maybe driving 55 will work because the oil supply is not going to last forever; it is already becoming harder to pump out of the ground because of the heavy demand.
Looking at the impact on the Earth’s atmosphere is another area of concern regarding our usage of gas and oil without regard for long term reprecussions. Greenhouse gasses have been poo poohed for quite while now; people are in denial about the damage our planet has sustained because of our daily choices in how we conduct our lifestyles. That denial no longer works. Scientists, doctors, inventors, engineers and world leaders are now getting on board with many in the general population trying to come up with ways to cut down on the damage; and, coming up with ways to heal the damage that has already been done, by making greener choices. Coming up with alternative energy sources is a must; in the meantime, we must support ideas of utilizing the resources we have in better ways.
Today, G-8 or Group of Eight world leaders have decided to set a goal to half the greenhouse gasses in the world by the year 2050. This is admirable to have the wealthiest industrial countries to set the lead. Those countries include the US, Italy, Great Britain, Japan, Russia, Germany, Canada, and France; I am happy that they are taking the bull by the horns. However, of great concern is China which is having a surge in people who are buying and using automobiles rather than public transportation. In China, the population is growing and the demand for gasoline is growing as well. China is developing their roadways and highway systems and that is going to enable more people to buy vehicles; which is going to add to the demand for gasoline and oil consumption. Awareness and cooperation, as well as, education is going to be the key to limiting the demand by consumers. Is that reason enough for the United States to lower the speed limit to 55 mph; probably not, many will say, why limit ourselves if China won’t or some other country won’t.
When you stop and start tallying up the reasons to lower the speed limit in the US…you start to see a pretty compelling argument for the call to slow down. Saving lives, saving money, saving the Earth’s resources of gas and oil, limiting the damage to our environment by limiting the production of greenhouse gasses that can destroy our quality of life…together, those are all pretty darn good reasons to take life a little slower and realize that each person, each city, each state, each country or providence can combine their efforts to change the world for the better.
I am going to make a committment to slow down to 55. I will rewrite my expectations of myself and plan ahead for the sacrifice of speed by leaving a bit earlier instead of driving faster. I will encourage others to realize that they too can make changes that will benefit us all. How about you…are you willing to endorse a drive 55 national speed limit?