55 MPH Movement Is Gaining Speed

55 MPH bumper stickers photo

Gas went up a quarter per gallon this weekend and will keep going. Many readers have not been impressed with our proposals for a return to 55 MPG speed limits, and said so in our surveys and in comments to our posts. However as gas prices keep rising, more people are realizing that smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient cars are needed, and it is easier to build cars that way if there are lower speed limits.

We are not alone, either; there is even a Drive55.org, that sells bumper stickers that tell the whole story: Driving 55 is better for the environment, saves you money, is safer and is the patriotic thing to do.

sierra club drive 55 photo

The Sierra Club on Driving 55

In a guest post on TreeHugger, Greg Haegele wrote "in a family sedan, every 10 mph you drive over 60 is like paying 54 cents per gallon more for gas you bought at $3.25 a gallon. That extra cost is even higher if you're buying more expensive gas, and for big SUVs and other less-efficient vehicles. (If you want to know when flying is a better choice than driving as carbon emissions go, take this quiz.)

And the time you save by going easy on the accelerator may not add up to as much as you thought. On a 300-mile trip, driving 65 instead of 70 mph would cost you only 20 minutes -- but save money and spew less carbon.

Our Radical Gas-Saving Tip: Drive 55 (or whatever the speed limit is)


We wrote about the benefits of driving 55:
It could save a lot of fuel.
It could save a lot of lives.
It will reduce the cost of cars and could save Detroit
It could solve our infrastructure problems and save on taxes.
It would spur innovation and investment in alternative transport
It would promote innovation in urban design and densification of the existing suburbs.

55 MPH: It's time to bring it back.


Small Cars are cheaper and more fuel efficient

Now of course, we can't drive these kinds of things, because we have to go 70 MPH. Have we grown so much in fifty years that we couldn't slow down a bit for safety, and drive such cars again?

Small Cars "Almost Cheaper Than Walking"


Microcars in America

Want to see more incredibly fuel efficient, incredibly cute cars that go fine at 55? The world's biggest collection is in Georgia at the Microcar Museum.
Microcars for Collectors


Maybe 55 MPH is too fast!

Others think that 55 is too fast; Glenn Lowcock proposes a universal 30 MPH speed limit. He suggests that "We’d adapt. Where once a ‘tolerable’ one-hour regular journey could take us 50 miles, we’d now go only 25 miles in that time. So we’d simply, sensibly, review the radius of our daily lives, and ‘shrink to fit’."

Life Begins at Thirty (MPH)


Or even 15 MPH!

In the UK, the government is promoting the development of eco-towns, is insisting that the town centres be car-free, and that a 15mph limit will be enforced on "key roads" leading into them. Housing Minister Flint says "These developments will be exemplars for the rest of the world, not just the rest of the country. It's critical that we get it right - and I make no apology for setting the bar as high as possible."

Get Ready for 15 MPH Speed Limits
Add your opinion to our survey.
Survey: Should America go back to 55 MPH?