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Old 02-20-2012, 11:16 PM   #1
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Is 60 mph the new 55?

A mile away from where I live is the I-15 highway. It's a 75 mile an hour zone. I lived through the 80's and 90's when there was an imposed 55 mile an hour speed limit. In 91, I took a cross country trip and on an open stretch I got 24 at 55, 20 at 65, and 18 mpg at 75.

Recently while driving the Solstice - which has an on board computer - I can data log for average mpg and instant mpg. I found my best mileage was 34 at 63 mph. At 70 it went right down to 28.

Given the human condition, if you say 60, they'll go 65. If the Middle East heats up and gas hits 5 bucks, do you think an imposed 60 would lower national gas consumption?

I remember driving throught DC in 08, when gas hit 5 bucks, there were less cars on the road, and people drove slower, your thoughts?
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Old 02-21-2012, 05:03 AM   #2
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Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

Having lived in the DC metro area most of my life, I never thought the 55 MPH speed limit ever slowed that many people down. It was initially sold as a fuel saving measure, but then once the Arab oil embargo was over they kept it, saying "55 Saves Lives". I don't think 55 saved as many lives as people driving less because of the price of fuel.

I notice a lot of people complaining about the price of fuel, but not many really changing their routine, at least not yet.
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:11 AM   #3
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Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

When gas reached $4/gallon people were still buying plenty of 15mpg vehicles and nobody was driving slower. Gas has been 3.50 +-.25 for months and nobody has uttered a single complaint.

I just don't see anyone accepting 55 or 60mph limits on the big freeways where it has been 65 or more since 1995.

If you want to slow people down, enforce the existing limits strictly and heavily. When everybody starts getting tickets for $250 and their insurance rates start doubling, either they'll slow down or they'll insist on speed limits being made to match the maximum speed that they think is reasonable.

I don't value low cruising speed for fuel economy. It works but there are plenty of other strategies I'd rather use. I obey the speed limit on the freeway to avoid tickets, and that's the only reason. Off the freeway it's also for safety and courtesy.
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:55 AM   #4
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Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

I will putt around under the speed limit, but only if I can do so without impeding the flow of traffic. If I'm taking my time on a 2 lane road, and a car comes up behind me, I will speed up to the limit. On a multi-lane road in light traffic I will just stay in the right lane and let traffic pass. In most instances I'm within 5 MPH of the speed limit anyway. If I encounter someone going slower than me its usually tourists with out of state plates, or rental cars that are lost.
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:09 AM   #5
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Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

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Originally Posted by Jay2TheRescue View Post
I will putt around under the speed limit, but only if I can do so without impeding the flow of traffic. If I'm taking my time on a 2 lane road, and a car comes up behind me, I will speed up to the limit. On a multi-lane road in light traffic I will just stay in the right lane and let traffic pass. In most instances I'm within 5 MPH of the speed limit anyway. If I encounter someone going slower than me its usually tourists with out of state plates, or rental cars that are lost.
Me too. I used to speed big-time, but now I drive a bit under the speed limit on the interstates. I don't have my heart jump into my throat whenever I encounter a speed trap now.
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:10 AM   #6
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Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

The problem is, most states acknowledge speed limits do nothing to control the speed of drivers, interestingly enough.

The only purpose of speed limits is to give the driver an idea of what a "safe and reasonable" speed is, and to be able to punish a driver for exceeding a "safe and reasonable" speed.

Did you know that nearly every state in the US has a law stating that the speed limit of a road has to be set by the people driving the road? Almost universally, municipalities are not allowed to decide what a speed limit is. They have to do an engineering study, and find out how fast people drive on that road, and set the speed limit on that road based on what 85% of drivers drive at or below.

Lowering the speed limit historically does nothing to lower the speed of drivers, and most state governments acknowledge that


Now what I think should become a law to "make" drivers drive more fuel consciously is far more simple.

An instant MPG gauge, placed prominently on the dashboard, that cannot be turned off.

I have ridden with more than one person who drives like an idiot, in a newer car. When I switch a little thing on the center console to show the instant MPG, they get upset because they don't want to know how bad of gas their driving is getting.

If cars could force drivers to face how wasteful their driving is, then likely many drivers would drive much more fuel consciously.

And it's a law that could work. It's not a law that requires a redesign of anything in the car. It's not a law that infringes upon freedoms, it's not a law that forces you to DO anything. It just stops you from being able to hide from the truth, and forces you to face your wastefulness. If you still want to drive idiotically after that, well, that is up to you.
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Old 02-22-2012, 07:31 AM   #7
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Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

The reason speed limits don't work is that they aren't enforced enough. Here's the thing: They are enforced just enough to be able to produce revenue and have an excuse to pull anyone over anytime, but little enough that almost everybody speeds - giving them an excuse to pull anyone over anytime. It's a form of social control in addition to a revenue source.

If they enforced limits heavily then The People would stop accepting limits that don't match the maximum speed they want to drive. Limits would be raised, speeding ticket revenue would drop, insurance revenue would drop, and traffic police would have to find another excuse to hassle the people they want to hassle.

I do not think "that nearly every state in the US has a law stating that the speed limit of a road has to be set by the people driving the road". I think some states do, but it is obvious to me that RI/MA/CT do not, as the speed limits do not even come close to the average speed of drivers, let alone the 80th percentile or whatever is used for that type of law.
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Old 02-22-2012, 08:22 AM   #8
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Arrow Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

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I do not think "that nearly every state in the US has a law stating that the speed limit of a road has to be set by the people driving the road". I think some states do, but it is obvious to me that RI/MA/CT do not, as the speed limits do not even come close to the average speed of drivers, let alone the 80th percentile or whatever is used for that type of law.
I can attest to that. I was pulled over on my 17th birthday in Connecticut. (great birthday present, huh?) I was driving on what appeared to be a rural road, not unlike the many rural roads I drove at home in Virginia. In Virginia these rural roads have an unposted 55 MPH speed limit. I had not seen a speed limit sign, but being not familiar with the road I thought I was taking it easy at 50. I got pulled over for 50 in a 35 How can one road in Virginia be 55, and a nearly identical road in Connecticut be 35?
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Old 02-22-2012, 08:44 AM   #9
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Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

20mph lower than reasonable is pretty universal in RI/MA/CT. MA is slightly better than RI and CT.
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Old 02-22-2012, 10:11 AM   #10
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Re: Is 60 mph the new 55?

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20mph lower than reasonable is pretty universal in RI/MA/CT. MA is slightly better than RI and CT.
In Indiana, we can drive about as fast as we can without breaking wheels on the potholes... and still be driving under the speed limit in places.

On I-65 Southbound just north of Indianapolis, the speed limit is 70. It has been lowered to 55 on one 5-mile stretch of road becuase it is in such bad shape. Every time I drive that stretch if interstate, I see at least one car on the side of the road with a flat tire or bent/broken wheel.

Our county roads are limited to 40 unless they have painted lines. Most do not. Most are flat and are wide enough for 2 cars to pass without any problem. I tend to drive 50 or 55 mph down county roads.

Indiana highways are all 55, unless they are divided. Then they are up to 60 mph, and up to 70 on interstates. People tend to drive 75 on I-465 (55 zone) and about 10 over everywhere else.
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