26 April, 2016
To Speed or not to Speed
There has long been debate over the speed limits throughout the U.S. ever since the oil shortages in the 70s. The action by the government was to reduce speed limits to 55 mph. This action helped to reduce the United States dependency on foreign oils and to help the environment.
Speed limits should be reduced again to 55 mph from 70 mph, not only to reduce dependency and save the environment but also to save lives and everyone money. The current speed limits in Wisconsin on major interstates is 70 mph and then 65 mph on state highways. This being said, no one ever really goes that slow, most travel about 75-80 mph. Everyone who does travel this fast is wasting money and gasoline. There is only one advantage to going this fast and that is to save time. What most miss out on or else completely neglect is the chance to maximize efficiency and save money. Here’s an example of how travelling the optimal speed can save you money, Let's take two hypothetical drivers, Bill and Bob. They need to go 60 freeway miles from City A to City B. Both cars get 30 miles per gallon if the driver stayed at 55 mph, the posted speed limit. Bill travels at 55, but Bob speeds and does 75 mph - wanting to get there sooner. At 75 mph, it would take Bob about 48 minutes to reach the destination. At 55 mph, it takes Bill about 65 minutes to reach the destination. At 55 mph, Bill used 2 gallons of gasoline. At $2.80/gallon, that's $5.60 to drive the distance. At 75 mph, Bob would use 2.5 gallons of gasoline. At $2.80/gallon, that would be $7.00 to go the same distance (“Speeding”). If Bill travels this distance to work everyday during the week he will save $14.00 a week. The only thing he would lose is a small amount of sleep. The trade-off between the private costs (fuel cost and damage and injury) and private benefits (time savings) is very large. There are also many external costs that come into play such as injury to others, health impacts and pollution. The costs far outweigh the benefits. All you gain is time, why gain time when you can gain money and ensure that you will be more safe.
Safety plays a very large factor in why speed limits should be reduced once again. The U.S. government reduced the speed limit to 55 mph in the 70s and 80s to help reduce fatalities in car crashes. Now that law is gone and speeds are higher than they have ever been. People on highways and interstates speed excessively, and it is becoming a major problem. In fact, “Speeding is a factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, killing an average of 1,000 Americans every month, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)” (“Speeding”). This means massive amounts of accidents must occur, and the cleaning up and repairing of both people and vehicles has a cost. It is probably a lot more than you may think, “The NHTSA estimates the cost to society of speed-related crashes to be more than $40 billion each year” (“Speeding”). In this Illustration it is seen that as the speed of vehicles is increased along the x-axis, the number of crashes that occur increases as shown by the points along the graph. Along the y-axis it can be seen that as speed increases and the number of crashes occurring increases the percent killed in the accidents increases as well.
All the benefits that come with reducing the speed limits are great for the economy and will help improve the standard of living here in the United States. If trucking and airline companies aren’t afraid to slow down, we shouldn’t be either. It will save everyone money, so everyone should try to change the lead in their right foot into gold in their pocket.
Castleman, Tim. "55 MPH Speed Limit Makes Economic, Political, and Environmental Sense." USA News. USA News, 27 July 2009. Web. 25 Apr. 2016."Speeding and Your Vehicle's Mileage." Speeding and Your Vehicle's Mileage. California Energy Commission, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.