Monday, April 28, 2008

Environmental Speed Limits

I read where some folks are pushing for reduced speed limits on our freeways in order to mandate what they feel would improve gasoline consumption. I’ll try to explain this in terms even the idiots; my apologies, the “we know better than you elitist” folks at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will understand.

There was an article written by Tony Freemantle which I looked up in the Houston Chronicle Archives which included the following remarks:

“The 55 mph limit, which went into effect in May (2002), was initially part of the federally mandated plan to get the Houston-Galveston region into compliance with national air quality standards by 2007. The thinking, based on scientific models, was that driving slower meant less pollution.

The measure was vilified from the start and drew heated negative response from drivers in the eight-county area under the "environmental" speed limit. New scientific modeling later showed the reductions in pollution from the lower limit were not that significant, at least not significant enough to warrant the aggravation of driving 55 mph and the heat it was placing on politicians.” (emphasis added)
Having issued many traffic tickets over my twenty year stint with the Houston Police Department, I thought it difficult at best to justify writing anyone a speeding ticket simply to appease the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate aimed at cleaning up the air. It’s been a long time since I read the official wording which accompanied a traffic violation; but certain points of law had to be met in order to obtain a conviction in traffic court. Did the driver of a vehicle going faster than the posted speed limit pose a safety hazard to those around them?
I don’t think speeding tickets were ever intended to include any hypothesized theory regarding carbon emissions or their possible reduction into the atmosphere by folks driving at an otherwise reasonable rate of speed; that my friends is against the peace and dignity of average intelligence of the citizenry and has nothing to do with the peace and dignity of the State of Texas.

The problem with re-implementation of the same smoke and mirrors reduction of speed limits under the guise of saving gasoline, cleaning up the air or any of the illusions floating around in some whacko environmentalist’s mind is that such measures are in direct conflict with the American way of life. We have it in our genes to spend the money we earn on whatever it is that suits our desires and needs, that includes cranking up the A/C so that our homes are comfortable in the warm months or the heater in the cooler ones along with spending our dollars on gasoline for our vehicles in order to achieve a measure of independence at what ever speed is reasonable under the driving conditions of the moment.

It will be nearly impossible to justify a Federally imposed lowering of speed limits because the scientific data does not correlate to improved air quality nor does it translate into any significant reduction in the amount of gasoline consumed. I’ve tracked the miles per gallon rate in my work truck and found it to be more efficient between 65mph and 70mph; nearly a full mile per gallon better than driving between 50mph and 55mph.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s site,, “As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.” That’s all well and good; but it’s my vehicle, my money and my gasoline; who the hell are they to tell me how to use any of them, especially when it has been shown from their own scientific data to be nearly an insignificant measurable difference to either the air quality or the consumption of resources.

For my fellow citizens who think more governmental controls are the fix for what ails us, it’s time to wake up and smell what you’re shoveling; here’s a clue, it’s not rose petals. Lowering the speed limits on freeways and toll roads does accomplish something; it raises the anger levels in 95% of those using those roads; remember, these roads were constructed to accommodate traffic at an average speed of 90 mph as a built in safety feature, 70 mph being used simply because some older folks would have had heart failure just seeing a posted speed limit higher than 70mph.

Truth be known, the Interstates were constructed in such a way as to permit landing aircraft in the event of an emergency; not sure I want to push that issue, could be rather messy trying to mix air traffic with vehicular traffic. The point being made is that safe speeds for traffic are tied directly with the quality of the roadway and should have nothing to do with fuel consumption desires of a few well wishing leftists intent on managing other citizen’s lives; thank you very much!

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