How It Be In The D

July 8, 2008

I Can Drive 55

Filed under: Op-Ed — adlv2006 @ 10:19

During this period of struggling to pay our gasoline bills, we are looking for ways to save or at least to lessen the hurt. It appears that the Michigan legislature is looking into some of them, which would involve new possible legislation.

Last Wednesday (July 2nd), myfoxdetroit.com reported that State Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi urging Congress to lower the national speed limit to 55 mph. Also, detnews.com (July 2nd) likewise reported that Gov. Granholm suggested at a press conference that the State should look at lowering the speed limit. Both suggestions on lowering the speed limit follow what news channels lately have discussed regarding the difference that driving slower has on mileage. By dropping from 65 mph to 55, drivers can recover about 4-5 mpg, depending on the vehicle.

While I recognize the positive effects of driving at a lower speed, I’m a little suspicious regarding the need to have legislation order it. Right now, Michigan is hurting. Jobs seems to be lost left and right. Residents are leaving for better opportunities out-of-state, which reduces the tax base. I’m not saying anything new. What is new is my feeling that the real reason for bringing down the speed limit is to increased the number of speeding tickets; thus, generating revenue for the State.

I now choose to drive slower because it is my personal choice. Also, I was never much of a fast driver to begin with. As I’m making the adjustment, I’m realizing that the only real reason that I went up to 70 mph is because I felt that I was in a rush. In the end, the time that I supposedly saved didn’t help me when I went to the gas pump.

To be honest, what could really make a difference in helping drivers save money isn’t legislation to bring down the speed limit but in changing traffic lights’ timing. I can’t tell you how many times that I’m in front of a light that just turned green, begin to accelerate and then have to decelerate because not just the next light but the light after is red. A green light quickly following by a series of red lights doesn’t make any sense! Factor in people in front of me that can’t drive and it adds up to stop-and-go driving. The sudden stops and starts isn’t just a nuisance but probably eats up more gas than speeding does.

I applaud our legislators for looking at all of the options. However, it seems that the only option getting any attention is lowering the speed limit. It seems to make sense but, in the end, I think that there are all the wrong reasons involved with this. Lowering the speed limit isn’t going to change the behavior of drivers that are prone to speed anyway. These people don’t care. What will make a difference is in changing the timing of traffic lights. If you’re going to have a red light, then have it be following at least two green lights. This would give drivers an opportunity to stop but, also, lessen the effect of stop-and-go driving. Maybe the reason that we feel so rushed is because we’re trying to make up for the time that we’ve lost due to traffic lights.

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