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Thread: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Though it lasted longer than disco and leisure suits, the national 55-mph speed limit was another remnant of the 1970s that did not endure.
    Yet with high fuel costs reviving memories of the energy crisis of that decade, proposals to bring back the "double nickel" or something like it are emerging, with backers saying federal speed limits could save fuel, money and perhaps lives.

    For more than 20 years, federal law capped the speed limit nationwide at 55 mph. The speed limit was abolished in 1995, but rising fuel prices have prompted some people to call for a revival of the law.

    "The faster you go, the more you waste," says Tim Castleman, a Sacramento man who is promoting a Drive 55 campaign.
    Until gasoline approached $4 a gallon, Castleman didn't find a lot of support for reinstating the 55-mph limit that Congress abolished in 1995 after more than 20 years.

    "It was a terribly unpopular law," acknowledges Castleman, who maintains a website, www.drive55.org.

    Indeed, reinstating the national 55-miles-per-hour limit, or 60 mph as some suggest, would seem a tough sell after the first experiment proved about as successful as Prohibition.

    Opponents such as Jim Baxter, head of the National Motorists Association, a Wisconsin group, argue any fuel savings would be tiny and that higher limits haven't made highways less safe.

    "People have to be willing to comply with it," he says. "And they weren't."

    Proposed by President Nixon and enacted in January 1974, the nationwide speed limit was described as a temporary emergency response to oil shortages and was to expire in mid-1975. But Congress soon made it permanent, and the 55-mph limit immediately became part of the national culture.

    Auto speedometers highlighted the 55-mph limit, police radar detection devices became popular, and rocker Sammy Hagar had a 1984 hit record that complained, I Can't Drive 55.

    States that had allowed speeds 75 mph or higher were compelled to go along because of the threat of losing federal money for highway construction. But in the face of resistance, Congress in 1987 relaxed the law to permit 65 mph on rural interstate highways. In 1995, Congress lifted the federal limit entirely. Baxter says most states have maximum limits of 65 or 70 mph. Some Western states have higher limits.

    Sen. John Warner, R-Va., introduced a bill last month that orders a study to determine the effects of a national 60-mph speed limit.
    Warner says the 55 limit reduced fuel use by 167,000 barrels a day, or 2% of highway consumption, citing a Congressional Research Service report. With far more vehicles, fuel savings is likely to be far greater now, he says.

    Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., has proposed a 60-mph limit in urban areas and 65-mph elsewhere.

    "There is no need for OPEC or the oil companies to help us out," Speier says. "Every driver can affect change simply by easing up on their right foot."

    Both point to findings by the Environmental Protection Agency that fuel efficiency decreases above 60 mph.

    Speier says 11 other House Democrats, most of them from California, are co-sponsoring her bill. And she claims support from environmental groups and the American Trucking Associations.

    Few other politicians have been eager to climb aboard, Baxter says. He notes that Warner is leaving office at the end of this year and that Speier represents a San Francisco and San Mateo district where voters may be less tied to their autos than elsewhere in the country.

    "The public isn't real excited about going back to a 55-mph national speed limit," Baxter says.

    Baxter says the savings potential is overstated because most driving is done on streets and roads where lower limits are in effect. Only 2% of the nation's roughly 4 million miles of roadways have limits above 55 mph now, he says.

    While up to one-third of daily traffic volume is on interstate highways, Baxter says, congestion often limits speeds anyway.

    "All we would do by establishing another national speed limit is we would generate a lot of tickets, a lot of insurance surcharges, and give a little boost to the radar-detector industry," Baxter says. "There would be no change in fuel pricing."

    Warner says safety is a reason to lower speeds too. He points to a National Academy of Sciences finding that the law "saved up to 4,000 lives per year from highway accidents." Disputing that, opponents point to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's figures that show the rates of traffic fatalities and injuries have been declining for more than a decade. The fatality rate in 2007 was 1.37 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, compared with 1.69 in 1996.

    Castleman, 50, a retired heating and air conditioning contractor, acknowledges his cause is a long shot.

    "We've been calling on people to do it for themselves, do it voluntarily, do it for the country, do it to stop climate change, do it to save money, do it to make our roads safer," he says.

  2. #2
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    That came from the USA Today article today. I was wondering when they would get around to reporting on it.

    A good article on the most contemptible law in US history.

  3. #3
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    That came from the USA Today article today. I was wondering when they would get around to reporting on it.

    A good article on the most contemptible law in US history.
    Not quite - the most contemptable was the Volstead Act.


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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    That came from the USA Today article today. I was wondering when they would get around to reporting on it.

    A good article on the most contemptible law in US history.
    Not quite - the most contemptable was the Volstead Act.
    That depends on if you drink. Being both a drinker and a speeder (not at the same time), I think that 55 trumps Prohibition.

  5. #5
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    That depends on if you drink. Being both a drinker and a speeder (not at the same time), I think that 55 trumps Prohibition.
    Nah. Look at it this way - the NMSL made offenders of most of us, the Volstead Act made criminals out of most of us. Prohibition promoted petty criminals into big-time gangsters, and infected the whole country with a massive contempt for law enforcement.


  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    That depends on if you drink. Being both a drinker and a speeder (not at the same time), I think that 55 trumps Prohibition.
    Nah. Look at it this way - the NMSL made offenders of most of us, the Volstead Act made criminals out of most of us. Prohibition promoted petty criminals into big-time gangsters, and infected the whole country with a massive contempt for law enforcement.

    I agree with Dennis!

    Getting a ticket is annoying; but the corrupting influence on law enforcement of Prohibition as well as the leg up it gave the criminal element was far more serious.

    I feel the same way about the loathsome "war on drugs," incidentally. It is no different than Prohibition - and arguably, much worse.

  7. #7
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I agree with Dennis!

    Getting a ticket is annoying; but the corrupting influence on law enforcement of Prohibition as well as the leg up it gave the criminal element was far more serious.

    I feel the same way about the loathsome "war on drugs," incidentally. It is no different than Prohibition - and arguably, much worse.
    A very important point. I feel they should remove "weed" from the schedule III list, legalize possession and sale, and put a very hefty tax on it. Crime would drop and tax revenues would be up.


  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I agree with Dennis!

    Getting a ticket is annoying; but the corrupting influence on law enforcement of Prohibition as well as the leg up it gave the criminal element was far more serious.

    I feel the same way about the loathsome "war on drugs," incidentally. It is no different than Prohibition - and arguably, much worse.
    A very important point. I feel they should remove "weed" from the schedule III list, legalize possession and sale, and put a very hefty tax on it. Crime would drop and tax revenues would be up.

    Agreed - only I'd go further.

    Regardless of the type of drug, so long as no violence is involved, there should be no criminal penalty involved for use, sale or possession. (I agree with you completely about taxing/regulating and otherwise controlling it.)

    Recreational drug use (as such) is no more anyone else's business than recreational alcohol use. It's obnoxious to common sense and a horrible abuse of those subjected to criminal sanction that we arbitrarily decide some drugs (alcohol, nicotene) are perfectly legal while others entail arrest, prosecution and jail time. We crowd our limited jail and prison space with non-violent offenders - who pose no physical threat to anyone - while at the same time early paroling/releasing/reduced sentencing violent criminals - from wife beaters to rapists to murderers. It's appalling. People's lives are ruined.... over a bag of pot. It's ludicrous.

    Literally everyone I know in my age group used drugs recreationally in college/when we were young. None of us has ever committed a violent crime or hurt anyone. We all have good educations, jobs, families - the whole "contributing to society" shibboleth. Both Clintigula and The Chimp and every other politician, lawmaker, attorney general and local cop under the age of 50 has done just as we have done - yet many of these shits will mercilessly pursue the "war on drugs" - and advocate punitive policies against others who they know are doing nothing either wrong or harmful (as such) to anyone else.

    The hypocrisy and cant and outright evil of it all makes me furious.


    Drug addicts should be handled medically - not criminally.

    The "war on drugs" is just like the "war on terror" - both are open-ended excuses for the limitless expansion of state power and the expropriation of vast sums of money. It is a giant make-work project and system for imposing tyranny by degree.








  9. #9
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    <<Literally everyone I know in my age group used drugs recreationally in college/when we were young.>>

    And you're still using, aren't you? (G,D&RW)

    << We crowd our limited jail and prison space with non-violent offenders - who pose no physical threat to anyone - while at the same time early paroling/releasing/reduced sentencing violent criminals - from wife beaters to rapists to murderers.>>

    Think of all the savings to us taxpayers if we stopped locking up ordinary users.


  10. #10

    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Eric,

    Agree completely with you on locking these people up. It's riduculous. I've smoked my share of weed (when I was much younger, of course). It's crazy that it is so criminalized.

    I would just beg your indulgence that, illegality aside, I feel that Marijuana is less a legal issue, and more a MORAL issue. Any time anybody fires up a doobie, they need to think about how many innocent men, women and children died in the crossfire of the war between drug cartels, and by buying this substance, you're smoking blood. Legalization will not change that. The cartels will still be thriving and fighting each other over turf.

    By the way, I disagree with you about taxation of pot. How the heck can you tax something that you can grow in your own house? Alcohol is a bit more difficult to produce by individuals. You would have to illegalize personal production of pot (just as we outlaw stills), which would actually REDUCE our personal liberties.

    We really need to think this one through.

    Hawg

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    <<Literally everyone I know in my age group used drugs recreationally in college/when we were young.>>

    And you're still using, aren't you? (G,D&RW)

    << We crowd our limited jail and prison space with non-violent offenders - who pose no physical threat to anyone - while at the same time early paroling/releasing/reduced sentencing violent criminals - from wife beaters to rapists to murderers.>>

    Think of all the savings to us taxpayers if we stopped locking up ordinary users.

    Actually, I haven't touched pot since college... and I barely drink at all!

  12. #12
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I agree with Dennis!

    Getting a ticket is annoying; but the corrupting influence on law enforcement of Prohibition as well as the leg up it gave the criminal element was far more serious.

    I feel the same way about the loathsome "war on drugs," incidentally. It is no different than Prohibition - and arguably, much worse.
    A very important point. I feel they should remove "weed" from the schedule III list, legalize possession and sale, and put a very hefty tax on it. Crime would drop and tax revenues would be up.


    They won't. Too much money is made by making it illegal. Dupont got it made illegal originally so hemp wouldn't compete with their new synthetic materials. Too many police departments get a large amount of their funding from confiscated property.
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  13. #13
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 55 mph speed limit gaining support

    Quote Originally Posted by grouch
    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I agree with Dennis!

    Getting a ticket is annoying; but the corrupting influence on law enforcement of Prohibition as well as the leg up it gave the criminal element was far more serious.

    I feel the same way about the loathsome "war on drugs," incidentally. It is no different than Prohibition - and arguably, much worse.
    A very important point. I feel they should remove "weed" from the schedule III list, legalize possession and sale, and put a very hefty tax on it. Crime would drop and tax revenues would be up.


    They won't. Too much money is made by making it illegal. Dupont got it made illegal originally so hemp wouldn't compete with their new synthetic materials. Too many police departments get a large amount of their funding from confiscated property.
    Unfortunately, you're 100 percent right about that - which only shows just how corrupting the "war on drugs" has been.

    It's one of the reasons why, incidentally, I could not ever be a cop. I don't like unjust laws - especially those that ruin people's lives over "vice" nonsense that is no one's business but their own. The idea of drawing a gun on a person - or sending them to jail or confiscating their vehicle - simply because they have a bag of pot with them - makes me sick.

    Imagine sending a man to prison for several years - taking him away from his work, his family, giving him a "black mark" that wil follow him forever (not to mention subjecting him to violent thugs while in prison) - because a cop found a case of Jack Daniels in his trunk. We'd be outraged and appalled. Oh. Yeah. Jack Daniels is legal. So Jack Daniels is ok.

    But pot... and it's time for pound me in the ass prison.

    This whole nasty business - that is accepted by and even endorsed by so many Americans - is just another example of how far we have fallen from the generation that gave us the Constitution and Bill of Rights.




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