LETTER: Lower the speed limit to save money and fuel

From reader Ursula Lowrey

With all the talk about high gasoline prices due to Russia invading Ukraine and closed oil refineries, there have been many suggestions to help the public cope. However, I haven’t heard any mention of reducing speed limits on our roads. This could help everyone’s pocket books.

Today resembles the Arab oil embargo of 1973. When oil shortages occurred, the government quickly responded by lowering speed limits on the highways and encouraging conservation to save fuel. In 1974 the U.S. passed a federal law limiting maximum speed on all roads to 55 mph. Canadian provinces soon followed with similar speed reductions on their highways. This saved the amount of fuel consumed and there were fewer traffic fatalities.

Fuel efficiency varies with engine power and design, as well as driving habits. Generally, most cars are most efficient at a cruising speed of 65 km/h to 95 km/h, with trucks and SUVs having poorer fuel efficiency due to wind resistance at higher speeds. Idling gives the worst gas mileage and greatest pollution since no distance is covered and the engine is colder.

I realize that lowering speed limits will not be a popular move. Education and enforcement must accompany any reduction. Our speed-obsessed society is addicted to the adrenalin rush of going faster and faster, and our economy is built on unsustainable growth. But medical research has shown that the stress caused by feeling that one needs to hurry just to keep up with everyone else causes both mental and physical illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

Lowering speed limits would result in immediate action on climate change and lower our carbon emissions.

So, slowing down will be better for the planet, our pocket books, and our physical and mental health!

Ursula Lowrey


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