Friday, July 04, 2008

The definition of insanity.

Sen. John Warner (Idiot-Va.) is calling for a study on the efficacy of reviving the 55MPH speed limit. He claims that studies show that the National Maximum Speed Limit, or "NMSL" (rhymes with "numbskull") "saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country's highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year".

What he doesn't mention is that the NMSL also bred a generation of scofflaws, turned once-respected highway patrols into revenue-collecting jokes, spawned the radar detector and CB industries, and gave us awful Burt Reynolds/Dom DeLuise movies, C.W. McCall songs, and vanity plates saying "55HAHA" & "PU55Y". I think four thousand human lives per annum is a small price to pay for never having to watch another Cannonball Run with eleven long-hair Friends of Jesus in a chartreuse Microbus.

30 comments:

Shermlock Shomes said...

Ahh, but Cannonball Run inspired many to go into medicine.

HokiePundit said...

How is it that both my Senators are unworthy of the Old Dominion?

Your analysis of the effects of NMSL seems pretty spot-on, but there's a silver lining: I suspect Obama will endorse it. If McCain runs on a position of drilling and upping the speed limits then you've got the makings of a landslide.

McCain '08: He'll Do.

Turk Turon said...

Yep, there was a torrent of really bad movies, all due to the 55 mph speed limit. If I even see another movie about a fist-fighting orangutan...

Jay G said...

Sure it will save lives, but MILLIONS will be LATE!

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate 55 myself, if you look at the wind resistenace curves for most vehicles, 55 is when the resistance really starts taking off.

You can try it yourself if you car to. Stick you hand hout the window at 55 and at 75. Much bigger difference than you'd think.

That whole square of the velocity thing comming home to roost.

I prefer telling people it "cost them money" rather than legislating it to death though.

perlhaqr said...

Anonymous: Given the option, I'd pay twice as much to get there, if I could get there at 120 mph.

Brigid said...

Yeah - but it could spawn a remake of that 70's Classic - Death Race 2000 "In The Year 2000 Hit And Run Driving Is No Longer A Felony. It's The National Sport!"

BryanP said...


I prefer telling people it "cost them money" rather than legislating it to death though.


The two arguments against a mandated 55 are usually "It's my money and it's my business how fast I want to drive" and "Going that slow costs me too much time out of my busy day." I can agree with the first one, but the second one is a load of crap.

I'd have to do the math to be sure, but a quick mental count I'm about 90% positive the difference between 55mph and 70mph across a 20 mile drive (about an average commute for many) is about 4 minutes.

(cue someone to come along and say "no, it's 4 minutes 35 seconds you moron!")

Medicman said...

Hey, wait a minute...

I like Cannonball Run!

Mike W. said...

As someone who likes to speed I'd shoot myself if the speed limits were dropped to 55. 65 is slow enough.

Nathan Brindle said...

"You can try it yourself if you car to. Stick you hand hout the window at 55 and at 75. Much bigger difference than you'd think."

Well, duh. If your car were designed like the palm of your hand held perpendicular to the airflow, then you'd have a point.

What makes your argument roadkill is that cars are designed to overcome wind resistance at highway speeds. At least I guess that's what all those ads showing cars in wind tunnel smoke tests are all about.

Steve Skubinna said...

And don't forget that C.W. McCall spawned Mannheim Steamroller.

William said...

Clearly, Mike's comment indicates that we're not safe until we prevent speeders from owning guns. What if he shoots himself while driving? Forget misdemeanors--we need to make each person who has received a speeding ticket a prohibited person. It's for the children.

Anonymous said...

Yeah - but it could spawn a remake of that 70's Classic - Death Race 2000 "In The Year 2000 Hit And Run Driving Is No Longer A Felony. It's The National Sport!"

Brigid, you mean something like this.

Brass

staghounds said...

1. Reading the comments might make you think Sen. McCain will win, if he keeps talking about drilling and doesn't grab onto this live wire first.

2. Sen. Warner was once Secretary of the Navy. I'd bet that if he thought deeply about it, he could come up with a way to ease the price of oil.

Say a $100/bbl freedom of the seas tax on any tanker whose contents aren't destined for a U. S. port.

We could even make it voluntary. The ships and oil companies of any country that doesn't care to pay would be denied any assistance by U. S. Navy, communications, banking, Courts, navigation, or other protective institutions.

We're already providing the "protection" and paying for it ourselves.

Might as well activate the "racket" part too.

Anonymous said...

I thought vehicle deaths decreased after the 55 mph limit ended, mostly due to reallocation of patrol and safety resources.

I used to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Faster is better.

Anonymous said...

I imagine the insurance companies are drooling and slobbering, salivating over the chance once again to raise premiums 20% per ticket.

And the Justices of the Peace are also right in there with them, thinking of all the "court costs" that go into their pockets. They then can buy all the gasoline they want.

Art

Anonymous said...

Cars today are much more aerodynamic than they were in the 70's. I hope Congress tells that ID10T Warner he needs to shuffle off to the retirement home at the end of this term when he retires.

DR2000 was just on the Turner Movie channel the other night. I didn't know it was R rated for nudity. So much for hoping it was going to cure my insomnia...

CGHill said...

Four thousand, my hind foot. The first year after the double-nickel was canceled, the doomsayers predicted 6400 additional deaths per year.

There were 90.

And the number of fatalities per miles driven was actually down a couple of percent. The trend continues downward to this day.

(Source for the "90" figure.)

HTRN said...

I'm with Medicman - Cannonball Run was a staple of weekend viewing while hanging out with friends.

Brock Yates book on the 4 Cannonball races in the 70s was an eyeopener, many of the actual incidents were used in the movie, and played up for yucks - There was, for instance, a guy who actually did race using a GMC 1 ton Dually.

Kristopher said...

Fatalities in Montana went DOWN when they defied the feds and instituted no speed limits during daylight.

Little old ladies ( of either sex ) got the hell off of the freeways in that state. removing these human obstacles lowered the accident rate considerably.

The notion that the 55 MPH saved lives is a bloody lie.

rickn8or said...

Any lives saved by the 55-MPH speed limit will be more than offset by the high blood-pressure related illnesses it causes.

'Cause someone is going to reason "that if 55 is goood, then 50 is better... for everybody. And they will proceed to do this in the left lane, exactly pacing any car, etc in the right lane... in front of me.

Then my Fifteen Minutes will start, with coverage on the Six O'Clock News.

Kevin said...

I live in Arizona. I'm an engineer, and our customers are mines. The closest one is 45 minutes away at the current speed limit. The ones we NORMALLY have to travel to are four HOURS away at the current speed limits. Dropping the limit to 55 (ask me how I know) stretches that out to about FIVE hours - each way.

Thank you, no. I can't drive 55.

Regolith said...

I make around six or eight 400+ mile trips a year, all in some of the least populated areas of the United States - southwest Oregon and Northern Nevada. In Nevada, the speed limit is 70 or 75. In Oregon, its 55 most of the way. And it drives me freaking insane. There is nothing out there, and all I want to do is get through it as quickly as possible, but I'm stuck doing 55, for well over 180 miles. My guess is boredom, not speed, has killed more people on those stretches of road. And this fucknut wants to make my ENTIRE drive that way. Fuck. That.

Brad K. said...

As I recall, just in the last year someone commented that the 'savings' were about 1 mpg, for some autos.

I suppose Detroit might still be making vehicles that peak in mileage at 45 mph, as they did in the 1950's and 1960's. But Toyotas I have owned all got their most efficient mileage at 65-70 mph. Repeatedly. I checked.

If ethanol-breath in Washington, D.C. really wants to save fuel - tax work commutes over 10 miles with a luxury tax. Tax the employers. Nothing says wasted gas like a 45 miles each way commute. Across downtown Phoenix, AZ. I can give you three names from 10 years ago. Only one of them was 62 miles.

Fix the beltway in Washington, D.C. Shut down the Department of Education. Downsize everything else. Clear out enough offices that 80% of all workers can live within 2 miles of work.

Oh, and account for the 'carbon footprint' of Congressional Members and Senators taking trips for 'business', vacation, and to the home district - for the office holder and staff.

Another way to reduce wasted fuel is to reduce gridlock and heavy traffic. Enforce, strictly, aggressive driving and minimum safe following distances. Your caller above is correct, slow cars in the fast lane cause problems - enforce those laws. But it is the fast driver, the driver that cuts others off, that leaves a miles-long trail of slowed and stopped traffic behind them.

And don't worry about the bad movies returning. That was liberal Hollywood rebelling against a republican president (Nixon, later Ford). It would be a democratic congress and an ignored President this time. Hollywood won't have anything they can rebel against.

Tam said...

The Zed Drei will happily tell you what its fuel consumption is, and the difference between 55 and 85 is about three MPG at freeway speeds with the A/C off.

If I'm really trying to stretch a tank on a roadtrip, I'll back off to a hair over 70. The difference between 70ish and 55 gets lost in the statistical noise of tire inflation and grades.

Oldsmoblogger said...

Makes you wish there was a political party standing in opposition to the party in power, doesn't it? Maybe one committed to republican values? "Republican" has a nice ring, don't y'think? Maybe we could start one or something.

Montie said...

Anonymous is right. Highway traffic deaths declined a small amount after the 55 mph National Speed Limit (NSL)went into effect. But that was a short-lived phenomenon. They climbed every year thereafter until the NSL was done away with. At that point traffic deaths went down considerably and have remained down.

My gut feeling is less people are falling asleep at the wheel now than when poking along at 55 mph (that plus airbags being installed in cars, mandatory seatbelt laws, and stepped up drunk driver enforcement).

While the 55 mph NSL is dearly loved by liberals (who howled about increased traffic deaths when the speed limit went back up, just like they do over every new CCW law, although the stats don't back up either claim), for the average American it was much despised, and would be as despised again. This is a real loser issue for Republicans.

Anonymous said...

And the difference in a 1000 mile trip at 55mph vis 70mph gets to be serious.
emdfl

Anonymous said...

I'm years late posting but I'd like to state for the record that I don't care if "55 saves lives" or it sticks kittens in a meatgrinder. God didn't give us the internal combustion engine to creep around in minivans.

A.C.