The most painful part of moving up to the northeast from Texas is the speed limits. The goddamn speed limits. All I can do is groan and bang my head on the steering wheel in frustration like I’m Sammy Hagar. No, officer, I physically cannot drive 55.
Fifty five miles per hour. It’s like pulling teeth. It’s nails-down-the-chalkboard level cringe. Why in the name of all that’s holy do I have to drive so slow on a highway? If it seems outdated to you, too, that’s because it is.
Hands up if you remember the Egyptian military crossing the Suez Canal in a surprise attack on Israel in 1973. If you, like me, are one of those damn millennials, you probably don’t. And if you, like me, went to a severely underfunded public school, you probably never learned about it in class.
It was the start of the Arab-Israeli War, and, yeah, the US was involved. We were giving Israel weapons, so the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries decided, nah, fuck you guys, no more gas for you. So, gas prices increased if you could, y’know, find gas.
President Nixon did what he could to try to make America less gas-dependent, which is pretty tough in a country that has some pretty poor excuses for public transport. Since higher speeds equal higher gas consumption, it made sense to mandate a 55 mph speed limit on all American highways. And it did manage to save about 1% of motor oil consumption per day, which doesn’t sound like a lot but, I imagine, adds up.
The national speed limit law was repealed in 1995, but that doesn’t mean things automatically had to change. In fact, a lot of things really, y’know, haven’t. Any time a state looks into upping the speed limits, you’re inevitably going to have parents and safety concerned individuals come out of the woodwork claiming that higher speeds are more dangerous, despite the fact that it’s been proved time and time again that “speed kills” is a myth.
Plus, y’know, you can make bank off of speeding tickets. You’re a lot more likely to ticket someone who’s going over 55 than it is someone who’s going over 75.
These slow speed limits are as outdated as the textbooks in my high school that had no idea there were multiple explanations for how the dinosaurs died. We’re still living in a world afflicted by laws from temporary gas shortages of the seventies.
Now that you’re armed with knowledge, you can go forth and fight the safety-conscious suburban moms who protest every time someone so much as mentions bumping up the speed limit just a notch.