In 1995, Ralph Nader said “history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life.” Why? Because Congress had just repealed the 55 mile per hour speed limit. In the years following the repeal, 33 states raised their speed limits, and the average fatality rate actually fell in those states. Meanwhile, Americans have saved some 200 million manhours in terms of less time spent on the road. The net economic benefit of that being between $2 and $3 billion a year.
So what have we learned? Time is a resource more precious than any other, and Ralph Nader is a lunatic zombie with no understanding of real economics.
Or have we learned anything at all? George W is the new Nixon, Iraq is the new Vietnam, and very expensive oil is the new kinda expensive oil. And just like the 1970s, national speed limits are back on the American brain. To help out the problem of expensive gas, senator John Warner (R-VA) wants a national speed limit, and he’s not the only one. Jackie Speier (D-CA) earlier this month introduced a bill that would cap highway speed limits at 60 mph. It’s currently in bureaucratic limbo just outside the House Committee on Transportation.
In an interview with TIME, John Warner talked about the 55 mph limit and said he’s trying to help “the many millions and millions [of Americans] of limited means, sitting around their kitchen table trying to figure out how to make ends meet…Maybe some guy’s got a better idea, but I haven’t seen it.”
Well, Johnny, open your eyes:
In an earlier article, The National Speed Limit is a Tool for Nazi Thugs, I wrote about the air of fear that the national speed limit created, and how speed limits clearly don’t make us safer, and don’t help us economically. Here are the major points:
First of all, more than 80% of all drivers ignore speed limits, which creates this unintended consequence of universal police fear, where motorists are more afraid of their police than they are of getting into an accident. That’s not good for anyone. Secondly, they don’t help out the economy; the money wasted in lost time greatly outweighs any potential benefit. And thirdly, they’re not safe; they just don’t prevent accidents, and in fact, they make them worse. All the data out there is crystal clear on this fact.
Look at the German Autobahn, which has no speed limits at all in certain areas. Fatalities per mile of road there are almost 30% lower than they are on the US interstate. We need to learn. Politicians need to learn. Speed limits are not the answer.
But Jackie Speier and John Warner still think they are; in fact, John Warner thinks he’s helping people. In the TIME article, he said “I’m just sensitive to people’s pain. Who’s got the courage to do something like this?”
Courage? To say something completely contrary to the facts and get behind an outdated, dangerous law that will waste billions of dollars and have an actual negative impact on peoples lives…maybe kill people? I guess you have that kind of courage, Mr. Warner.
Disagree? Just see what happens when a bunch of students decide to obey the speed limit as a form of civil disobedience: