Friday, July 04, 2008

Will the 55 MPH national speed limit come back because of the oil price spike?

Will we again have a national speed limit of 55? That’s what Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia suggests now.

From a practical viewpoint, it makes some sense. Some people will want to drive 50-55 in order to conserve fuel. They could be at risk for rear-ending if many drivers (especially trucks, under delivery schedules), still driving legally, go 65 or perhaps 70 under the grace limits.

Back in 1973, speed limits were suddenly deceased to 50. Gasoline stations were closed on Sundays, and even-odd license plate purchase rationing was implemented. Ration books were printed but never used. Even though the Yom Kippur war is said to have catalyzed the Arab oil embargo, there had been some warning signs back in 1972 after the dollar devaluation and loss of gold standard, and there had been talk of oil shortages even then.

After a while, the limit nationally was 55, and stayed that way until the 90s, when many states took it back to 65 or 70. Maryland was a holdout for a long time, staying at 55 for several extra years.

The oil price thing is a “quickening.” It’s coming at consumers very quickly. Today I watched “The End of Suburbia” (from 2004) which I reviewed on my movies blog (check the profile) and which talks about draconian steps coming suddenly. We don’t have gas lines (yet) because supplies seem adequate for slightly reduced demand. Don’t hold your breath.

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