July 04, 2008

Weird Senator Suggests Return to National Speed Limit

Then Jove resolved to send a curse
and all the woes of life rehearse;
Not plague, not famine, but much worse --
He cursed us with a Congress.

-- Loyalist anthem

VIRGINIA, WE EXPECTED BETTER. You are the cradle of American Government and as such should be cognizant of the value of freedom. Despite this, one of your senators has made the impudent and wretched suggestion that Congress might want to consider again establishing a national speed limit.

The Rant has a two-word response to this idea. Well, actually, two two-word responses. The first response readers should be able to figure out on their own. The second one, however, is a bit more obscure but one I am sure the Rt Hon Senator will recognize. Those two words are: Danny Rostenkowski.

As Washington has a long memory, I am sure everyone there still vividly remembers that whole debacle, in which an angry mob of senior citizens chased the Illinois Congressman to his car over changes to Medicare. I would suggest that imposing a national speed limit would make that look like a walk in the park.

This is because the only people who would actually support a national speed limit are incompetent drivers, who support a low speed limit because they are incapable of operating a motor vehicle in traffic. Nothing would give these tired prudes more satisfaction than being able to joyfully saunter in the passing lane going 60, and being able to do so with the full force of the law behind them. Perhaps the senator in question is an incompetent driver. Perhaps the senator has forgotten how miserable trips on the freeways are when you can only drive 55 or 60 miles per hour.

I have not forgotten. When I was a boy, my parents would annually gather the family together in a car for a trip to western Pennsylvania, a trip that involved traveling 420 miles from home. I can assure readers this trip, which should have taken about six hours -- seven hours at tops -- took eight hours to complete -- and sometimes more, if bad weather or road construction complicated matters. Do you have any idea how grueling that is? Staring at marker miles along the way and finding you're still in Ohio, and even worse, have 123 miles to go before you get out of it? If you're not sympathetic to that, then never mind the effects it had on me -- think about my poor parents, who had to put up with me for eight hours.

Speaking of Pennsylvania, here's another two words the senator might want to consider: Whiskey Rebellion. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

The last time we had a national speed limit imposed, it took twenty-one years for it to get repealed. This was despite the fact the original reasons for the national speed limit had faded out in the early Eighties. I do not want to wait until 2029 to travel at a reasonable speed on the freeway, particularly as by that time I'll be driving a spiffy hydrogen rocket.

Besides, with the price of fuel, even inveterate lead-foot drivers like me see the wisdom in traveling at a moderate rate of speed, like 60 or 65 miles per hour, as in my car doing so saves $1 per 20 miles driven compared with ... uh, my normal traveling speed. The savings per tank of gasoline is more than $20, which is more than enough incentive to ease off the accelerator a little bit.* All it requires from me is a bit of courtesy to my fellow drivers, which involves me traveling in the slow lane and not in the travel or passing lanes. I'm happy to do that, and I would suggest more drivers are doing so as they too realize the economic benefits of slowing down. Gee, there's a concept; the free market working.

That said, there are times when traveling at a normal rate of speed (somewhere in the eighties) is a good idea. Like if I'm traveling through northern Ohio, particularly that awful stretch of I-80 east of Toledo. Americans' freedom to travel fast on the freeway when they want and need to do so cannot and must not be abridged, and I am confident all right-thinking Americans will resist any attempts to have this wretched, miserable boondoggle of an idea -- an idea from the Seventies, no less -- imposed upon us again.


* My trusty Ford Taurus has an 18 gallon gas tank. If I use 17 gallons while driving on a trip, I can travel 340 miles doing my normal and customary speed, but 486 miles traveling at 65 miles per hour. This works out to a difference of 146 miles, the equivalent of saving 5.4 gallons of gasoline. At $4 per gallon, this works out to a savings of $22 per tank.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 4, 2008 08:41 AM | TrackBack
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