Should a 55 MPH Speed Limit Become Law?

Backers say it's sensible economically and environmentally. Foes say so-called benefits are a mirage.


Lower speeds conserve fuel and make highways safer, say proponents of a mandatory national limit. Others say that its cited benefits are false and that impeding traffic is far worse for drivers and the environment. Should a 55 mph maximum speed limit be imposed?
Edited by Steve St. Angelo


It's easy to understand why Americans don't like to be told how to drive. Private motor vehicles

Tim Castleman

By Tim Castleman
Founder of the Drive 55 Conservation Project, which promotes energy independence

represent freedom, in a figurative sense as well as a practical one.

Our vehicles are more than just tools of autonomy, though. They are an extension of the self, intimately intertwined with personal identity. To a large degree, our cars are us, and restricting how we drive is tantamount to threatening our independence. Coming from a culture that values liberty, we balk at such infringements. In the bigger picture, however...



In the fall of 1973, in response to the OPEC oil embargo, President Nixon issued an executive

James Baxter

By James Baxter
President of the National Motorists Association, which lobbies to preserve the rights of drivers

order mandating a 55 mph national maximum speed limit. The following January, Congress made it official and passed a "temporary" one-year continuation of the limit. And so began a 22-year odyssey where reality and rational public policy never crossed paths.

Initially, this law was passed to conserve motor fuels, but it soon became lauded as a safety measure. It was for safety purposes that the law was made permanent in 1975. (It was eventually...


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