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View Full Version : We can't drive 55 - even though 65 (or faster) is legal now


Valentine One Radar Detector

Eric
08-04-2008, 07:16 AM
Don't worry too much about talk of the 55 mph speed limit being resurrected. More and more of us would rather stay home anyway.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of people who still enjoy going for a drive has dropped from eight out of ten back in 1990 to just under seven out of ten today. Inescapable traffic - and the rudeness and/or general incompetence of their fellow motorists - were cited as the major reasons why.

With more cars than licensed drivers out there - more than 200 million of them at last count - and with residents of some major urban areas like LA, Atlanta and DC spending the equivalent of almost an entire week per year stuck sitting in traffic jams - it's no wonder the bloom's begun to fall off the rose a little.

Driving, after all, is all about freedom of movement - and if you can't move, there's not much freedom. What good is a 500 horsepower sports car like the Corvette Z06 when it's literally impossible to drive it much faster than 70-something MPH - except every once in awhile?

It's not mentioned in the Pew study or the news coverage of the study, but it's an interesting and cruel irony that cars have never been more powerful, capable and safe to drive - even at very high speeds - than they are right now. Middle-of-the-road family sedans like the Toyota Camry V-6 and Honda Accord can hit 130-plus MPH on the top end and are quicker 0-60 than many of the V-8 muscle cars of the 1960s. Today's sporty cars - models like the Mustang GT and Mitsubishi EVO - offer what was once six-figure exotic-car performance levels (5-6 second 0-60 times, 150 mph top speeds) for around $30k.

And here's a real reality check: The top speed of a Toyota Prius hybrid - about 110 mph all out - is only a few mph behind the top speed, all out, of a mid-late 1970s Camaro Z28.

Yet as the power/capability of even average cars cars has tracked ever higher, they are increasingly throttled by external realities such as chock-a-block traffic that reign them in more effectively than Joan Claybrook's wildest midnight fantasies ever could.

Thirteen years ago, the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit was the law of the land. Yet one could violate it with near-impunity if one had the hardware - and an indifference to the authority of Roscoe P. Coltrane and his radar gun. Fast driving was very possible. It was just a matter of putting your foot down.

Today, most state highways have considerably higher lawful maximums - as much as 75 or even 80 mph in some places - but it's getting harder and harder to actually drive that fast. The DC Beltway, for example, slows to a crippled crawl for several hours every day. Ditto the I-95/395 corridor that runs from Richmond to Alexandria.

Similar stories - and worse - can be told by the unlucky denizens of Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

Drivers of crusty old Subarus jockey for position with brand-new BMWs - neither of them able to do much more than 45-60 mph. The minute a hole opens up and you put the pedal down, a minivan or SUV plastered with soccer ball stickers and an "I support the troops" ribbon appears in your path - ending the epiphany.

It's no fun at all. You pay all this money for a car with more built-in capability than some pure race cars had just a few decades ago - but you might as well be driving a primered and rust-pocked '84 Ford Festiva with 257,000 miles. The sole bennie - more precisely, the one usable thing you do get for your $30,000 or $50,000 (or more) that you didn't get in a clapped-out 70-hp Festiva - is a better radio, maybe GPS and, of course, your cell phone with Bluetooth hook-up. Electronic soporifics are there to keep you distracted - to keep your mind off the mobile Skinner Box in which you spend 2-3 hours or more of your life each day.

Two to three hours of your life going short distances, very very slowly.

Back in the '80s, rock crooner Sammy Hagar cut his signature track, "I Can't Drive 55" - which contained the lament, "... what used to take two hours now takes all day... it took me 16 hours to get to LA!"

Sammy may not have realized what a prophet he was.. The Drive 55 crowd may ultimately win the battle for a slow-mo society by dint of sheer numbers.

swamprat
08-04-2008, 12:46 PM
It was not that easy to drive at pre 1973 speeds during the NMSL era which ended in 1995. Most of the tickets I got were for traveling about 70 in a 55 mph zone or 79 in a 65 mph zone. Today, I don't have to worry about that.

My travel speeds are largely the same as they were.

The good thing about 4 dollar gasoline is that people aren't hitting the roads like they did.

Fine with me. I don't either....

chiph
08-04-2008, 02:28 PM
I don't think I could drive 55 mph now if I wanted to. I'd fall asleep.

Chip H.

Disco Man
08-04-2008, 05:51 PM
Posted this article on the main site with pictures:


http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/images/stories/automotive/other/08-08/55-1-s.jpg


http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=575&Itemid=10894

Eric
08-05-2008, 07:18 AM
It was not that easy to drive at pre 1973 speeds during the NMSL era which ended in 1995. Most of the tickets I got were for traveling about 70 in a 55 mph zone or 79 in a 65 mph zone. Today, I don't have to worry about that.

My travel speeds are largely the same as they were.

The good thing about 4 dollar gasoline is that people aren't hitting the roads like they did.

Fine with me. I don't either....


When we lived in the DC area, traffic was so bad, so much of the time, that driving a really fast car was an exercise in futility - and frustration. Other than the occasional quick pass, most of the time, you might as well have been driving an eight year old Accord. It was a rare treat to be the first car at a traffic light - and even then, you'd come up on a new blob of traffic very quickly.

We moved in the summer of 2004 - and I noticed the masses (and traffic) seemed to be following us here. So in a way, I am happy about $4 per gallon - if it will tamp down the influx of people and all the schiesse that comes with them - from traffic to ugly development and big box retailers to crime and noise and more laws for the sake of the chyyyyylllldrun!

Disco Man
08-05-2008, 11:38 AM
The conveniences and options on most new cars and trucks make commuting even in gridlock a little easier. Satellite radio is best modern option, with over a 100 stations and no commercials, it's not too bad sitting in traffic listening to some good music or content. I was stuck in traffic yesterday listening to one great 1970s song after another. It certainly makes the torture of traffic much easier to deal with.

swamprat
08-05-2008, 12:05 PM
It was not that easy to drive at pre 1973 speeds during the NMSL era which ended in 1995. Most of the tickets I got were for traveling about 70 in a 55 mph zone or 79 in a 65 mph zone. Today, I don't have to worry about that.

My travel speeds are largely the same as they were.

The good thing about 4 dollar gasoline is that people aren't hitting the roads like they did.

Fine with me. I don't either....


When we lived in the DC area, traffic was so bad, so much of the time, that driving a really fast car was an exercise in futility - and frustration. Other than the occasional quick pass, most of the time, you might as well have been driving an eight year old Accord. It was a rare treat to be the first car at a traffic light - and even then, you'd come up on a new blob of traffic very quickly.

We moved in the summer of 2004 - and I noticed the masses (and traffic) seemed to be following us here. So in a way, I am happy about $4 per gallon - if it will tamp down the influx of people and all the schiesse that comes with them - from traffic to ugly development and big box retailers to crime and noise and more laws for the sake of the chyyyyylllldrun!


Same here. I hope it stays there for a while. Unfortunately, I think the oil bubble is deflating a bit.

The ugly development continues, albeit at a slower pace down here.

I remember a couple of years ago, my commute to work was blocked by sand and construction trucks bringing the materials necessary to rape a new plot of land. What I can't stand is the "for sale" signs and the signs pointing to new housing construction. I should lobby for a sign ordinance in the city, but you know that that takes years....and usually does no good.

Driving is a little more pleasant now as I would guess there are 5 percent fewer cars on the road during off peak hours.

Eric
08-05-2008, 12:37 PM
The conveniences and options on most new cars and trucks make commuting even in gridlock a little easier. Satellite radio is best modern option, with over a 100 stations and no commercials, it's not too bad sitting in traffic listening to some good music or content. I was stuck in traffic yesterday listening to one great 1970s song after another. It certainly makes the torture of traffic much easier to deal with.




It does!

Jill got me a portable Sirius unit for my birthday; it can go from car to car (as well as in the house) and I use it all the time. I rarely listen to regular radio anymore. It's mostly just #$!! commercials anyhow. Same with TV...

Ken
08-05-2008, 01:03 PM
Henry said;

I remember a couple of years ago, my commute to work was blocked by sand and construction trucks bringing the materials necessary to rape a new plot of land. What I can't stand is the "for sale" signs and the signs pointing to new housing construction. I should lobby for a sign ordinance in the city, but you know that that takes years....and usually does no good.

I know the feeling Henry. When we moved into our new property we understood it was just a small development of thirty houses/bungalows. The one we chose was lovely and overlooked green fields and woods. What they didn't tell us was that 'Phase One' was only thirty or so properties but that there were four 'Phases' and more in the pipeline. Although we still have what we consider to be the best and most secluded spot the 'Thirty or so' has now become around four hundred and our view of fields and woods has long gone.

Ken.

Eric
08-05-2008, 01:28 PM
Henry said;

I remember a couple of years ago, my commute to work was blocked by sand and construction trucks bringing the materials necessary to rape a new plot of land. What I can't stand is the "for sale" signs and the signs pointing to new housing construction. I should lobby for a sign ordinance in the city, but you know that that takes years....and usually does no good.

I know the feeling Henry. When we moved into our new property we understood it was just a small development of thirty houses/bungalows. The one we chose was lovely and overlooked green fields and woods. What they didn't tell us was that 'Phase One' was only thirty or so properties but that there were four 'Phases' and more in the pipeline. Although we still have what we consider to be the best and most secluded spot the 'Thirty or so' has now become around four hundred and our view of fields and woods has long gone.

Ken.



Awful....

This is why I am angling to buy 10-25 acres from our neighbors (they own the 120 behind us) so as to forestall any possibility of some land-raping developer putting up some faux Edwardian castle in our backyard 10 years from now....

grouch
08-05-2008, 06:48 PM
Henry said;

I remember a couple of years ago, my commute to work was blocked by sand and construction trucks bringing the materials necessary to rape a new plot of land. What I can't stand is the "for sale" signs and the signs pointing to new housing construction. I should lobby for a sign ordinance in the city, but you know that that takes years....and usually does no good.

I know the feeling Henry. When we moved into our new property we understood it was just a small development of thirty houses/bungalows. The one we chose was lovely and overlooked green fields and woods. What they didn't tell us was that 'Phase One' was only thirty or so properties but that there were four 'Phases' and more in the pipeline. Although we still have what we consider to be the best and most secluded spot the 'Thirty or so' has now become around four hundred and our view of fields and woods has long gone.

Ken.




I've got 40 acres and houses are going up around it all the time. My uncle wants to sell but to remove it from Forest Reserve will mean 10 years of back taxes plus other penalties. My sisters and I have a 50% undivided interest and we don't plan to sell. Grandfather bought the land back in the 30's and wanted it to stay in the family. The ground is mostly hill side with granite outcrops and the land around it has taxes of about $1000 per equivalent acreage. I pay $5 per year. I also asked the county to figure up what it would cost to remove the reserve protection and sell all the wood to develop it. I'm not supposed to release the information but let's just sya the trees and wildlife are safe for now.

hwyhawg
08-06-2008, 07:56 PM
Henry/Eric,

Tried it again. Another letter to my Congressman (who happens to be on the Transportation Committee), and a variation of the following to Senator Warner. You all seem to be playing this issue down, but I cannot quit doing what I can to keep the pressure on. I would encourage other bloggers on this site to do the same.



To the Most Honorable Steve Cohen, Representative:

I appreciate your very nice note in response to my concerns about HR 6458. I beg your indulgence, at the risk of repeating myself, that I wish to recapitulate why I oppose HR 6458, and any similar "feel-good" "let's do something now" legislation. I do remember that you sponsored the 70 mph Tennessee limit, and I'm asking you resist abandoning your principles in the face of this so-called "oil crisis". I'll keep my points short:

First, you'll honestly be doing incredibly well to get 5-10% compliance. I fail to see how that will help you achieve the goal of HR 6458 or any similar legislation.

Secondly, in order to get higher compliance, you will have to force state and/or local police to our Interstates, the safest roads of our highway system, and away from our most dangerous roads-the two lane system-most of which are still posted at 55.

Finally, you will create a dangerous speed variance problem much greater than we currently have, and a police force that simply will not enforce a law that requires a speed far below a safe, reasonable level. What enforcement you WILL get will be in the form of a new tax on the American driver- moving violations fines, court costs and insurance surcharges.

I ask you to please ponder these weighty issues before you consider HR 6458 or similar legislation. Instead of an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all, solution, lets increase oil production, TEMPORARILY, and move quickly to transform to other forms of environmentally-friendly, internationally-independent energy. The only economic sector this and similar bills will benefit is the radar detector-making sector.

I appreciate your time and consideration of my concerns.

swamprat
08-06-2008, 08:05 PM
My knuckleheads have not gotten back with me yet. I guess its time for another letter. I am working on getting a communication out to members on this as well.

hwyhawg
08-06-2008, 08:30 PM
Henry,

For what it's worth, this is the response I got from Cohen this week, but decided to re-write and stay on him about this.



August 4, 2008

Dear Mr. Butler,

Thank you for your recent email regarding H.R. 6458. I will carefully consider the pros and cons of this legislation, keeping your thoughts in mind.

You may be interested to hear that, as a member of the Tennessee State Senate, I introduced and passed legislation in 1998 that increased the Tennessee highway speed limit from 65 MPH to 70 MPH.

I hope that you will feel free to contact me at any time in the future to voice your opinions on legislation before the House; I am very interested in hearing the views of my constituents. If you would like to receive periodic e- news updates from my office, please sign up on my website: www.cohen.house.gov.


As always, I remain,

Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress

hwyhawg
08-06-2008, 10:55 PM
Henry,

Please keep me and members apprised of any scientific polling data on an NMSL. Haven't looked real hard, but haven't been able to find anything.

Thanks in advance.

Hawg