Sunday, February 20, 2011

Little Old Blue-haired Ladies Driving...

Photo by dlofink

I remember walking to a service station in the 1970's, and standing in line with my gasoline can to get enough gas to drive to work and home. During that gas shortage, the government reduced the national speed limits to 55 MPH to increase fuel economy. 

That was the first time I actually understood (and experienced) a lowered speed actually increased the mpg on my old Chevy. I could easily get 10+ more miles per gallon at a slower speed! Of course, when the speed limit went down, so did traffic accidents and deaths.

For most years after the 70's, I planned my sightseeing trips around the countryside so I could travel back roads, where I could drive at 45 mph and not be run over (or off the road!). That allowed me to travel farther on the same tank of gas, AND it allowed me to see more of the wayside and smell the flowers.

Today I live 3 miles off an interstate, where the speed limit has just increased from 65 mph to 70 mph... and if I happen to travel on it, everyone runs by me going even faster than the speed limit. I still drive the back roads whenever I can, even on long trips where I have to stay overnight somewhere. Does an extra half hour of driving time on a long trip make much difference? Or an extra 10 minutes to get to the next town?

The speed limit on all the roads in my county is 25 mph unless posted otherwise. That means the road in front of my house is limited to 25 mph, yet everyone barrels down the road like there was a fire; several pets have been killed on my block just in the 5 years I have lived here. Only once have I seen a patrol car, and he was going to arrest someone for a bad check.

How can people complain about the horrific gas prices, and do nothing to drive more economically? AND, why hasn't the government stepped in (again) and reduced at least the highway speed limits? Why doesn't my county enforce the rural speed limits, which would increase the county coffers for a while at least?

I do know that states get their highway (interstate) maintenance money based on the number of speeding tickets they write. Not enough tickets = no fed highway money. But is there something else going on?

This whole speed limit thing is baffling to me... but if you get behind my 20 year old truck on a back road, I will be the little old blue-haired lady driving at just speed limit.

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