Former (and deceased) President Nixon was right about something. Back in the early ’70’s we had a Gasoline crisis. Demand was high, and supplies were low, and therefore the price was high too. Richard Nixon had a short-term solution: lower the maximum speed limit to 55.
Scientists, and our collective experience over the 18 years that the 55 mph limit was in force, prove that we use less gas at 55 (not to mention lesser amount of pollutants we pump into the atmosphere): On the highway, try not to exceed a speed of 55 miles per hour. Not only are you less likely to get into an accident, but the faster you drive, the more fuel your vehicle consumes per mile. That means more money and more greenhouse gases. At 65 mph you’re burning 10% more fuel than at 55, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. At 70 you lose 17% of your fuel economy, and at 75 it’s 25%. The numbers get worse from there. Even though you may thrive off living in the fast lane, if the national speed limit were reset to 55, it would save 1 billion barrels of oil per year — more than the U.S. imports from the Persian Gulf. The reason why is simple physics. As your engine heats up at higher speeds, it burns gas faster. Plus, all that increased resistance from air and road drag you down. Another benefit: During the years when the 55 limit was in place, we saved 40,000 to 42,000 lives each year. Now that the limit has been allowed to go higher, we’re losing that many people.
Incidentally, the CATO Institute says all these truths are wrong, and that we should have no limits at all. This makes sense that CATO would feel this way. They are an organization whose philosophy is centered around Libertarianism and Objectivism. They believe strongly in Social Darwinism (the “let them all die” philosophy). Now, why doesn’t President Bush do the same? Richard Nixon had no personal stake in oil. Mr. Bush is an oil man, and the more oil companies profit the more he profits.I would go a step further. In addition to reinstating the 55 mph limit, I would ban private ownership of all vehicles with more than 4 cylinders. Only business’s and government, with a legitimate reason for having one, would be allowed to own or drive a vehicle with six cylinders or more. This would take most of these gas-guzzling, gross-polluting, behemoths off the road, and also make the roadways a lot more safe for us small car drivers.I’ll wager that these two measures, together, would reduce our oil dependency by at least 50%. Maybe even 75%.