Will the Old Double Nickel Help Save Gas?

I read recently where Republican John Warner wants to revive the 55 mph speed limit in an attempt to save gas. You read that right. Bring back the old double nickel. Maybe I should get on the horn to see if I can find Sammy Hagar in defense of not doing so.

But before I do, the first thing to look at would probably be to decide on whether or not such a move would actually be worthwhile – not that it matters to the government, but it does matter to yours truly. So let’s see what we can find out.

Not beign a scientist, or having any money to even play a scientist, I have to simply go looking. Here’s what I found.

Back in 1974, President Richard Nixon signed a law that created a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour, arguably to save gasoline at a time when it was really needed. Many proponents, including sites such as Drive55.org, still agree with this claim today, and think we need to go back to this standard.

Taking a quick look through the site shows that a 2009 Honda Civic gets 45 miles per gallon at 50-60 mph. Not exactly 55, so I’m guessing that they are scientists either. In actuality, the “proof” from this site is basically a bunch of folks writing in to report their claims. Now I’m not saying that they are lying, just that they are making claims that aren’t exactly supported by science.

What does that mean? It means that there are plenty of people who seem to agree. But even so, there are other things to consider – like are you creating a hazard on the roads by driving at a slower speed than the general flow of traffic, and increasing the blood pressure of everyone around you, not to mention the likelihood of road rage in general? My wife would certainly agree here.

While we are certain to run out of fossil fuels at some time, I’m not sure that an arbitrary speed limit is going to help, especially when most people don’t follow the limit. Even those who write in don’t hit 55 – some quote 50-60, others 58, and I’m sure that most of you out there drive, or know someone who drives, at several miles over the limit, simply because we aren’t a terribly patient race. Emphasis on the race, perhaps.