Friday, May 16, 2008

Need for less speed

Veering away from medicine for a moment please direct your attention to the problem of rising gasoline prices. Does anyone remember when the speed limit was dropped to 55 miles per hour?

On my morning drive to work I have routinely used this tactic as a way to conserve fuel in my already fuel efficent Honda. This morning as I drove 55 on a freeway where the speed limit is 60 and many drive 70 miles per hour, a city bus roared by me going at least 65. Five miles down the road, still driving my self imposed speed limit of 55 I caught up to the city bus and all the sports utility vehicles that had rushed by several minutes before. Traffic had slowed at the interchange as we were entering downtown and we were all now traveling at a reduced rate of speed. I suspect that all of us arrived at our destinations similtaneously.

This fact caused me to remember a reduction in something other than fuel consumption when the speed limit was reduced to 55 miles per hour. We saved lives with a lower speed limit. There are those that will refute this fact. One item that gets in the way here is that cars are now safer with elaborate air bag systems in place to protect passengers. We really don't know how many lives we would save driving a bit slower in these safer cars.
Less cost, less loss, about the same arrival time. Do we need all this speed?
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