Friday, April 2, 2010

From the NY Times Freakonomics: Life and Death in the Fast Lane

Here's a quote from the first paragraph:

"Which has received more media coverage: 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined; or the repeal of the nationwide 55 mph speed limit? You probably guessed the former. But there’s a good case to be made that the answer should be the speed limit. Why?"

How much faster do we really go when the limit is raised? How many more of us are killed in accidents because of higher road speeds? What happens to fuel mileage...?


Earle said...

"Dying by car is not death." That is the only explanation I can think of for allowing the carnage on the roads that we do in America.

debramcgibbon said...

Ahh, but there's more to this story then meets the eye. Fifty-Five or not, the auto death rate in this country is plummeting, down to just over 33,000 last year.

"Stay Alive, Drive 55" read the myriad of bumper stickers in the 1980's and early 1990's. A year ago I tried it - driving 55 mph on Interstate 5 through Central California. It was an insane thing to do.

Passed by everyone like I was standing still - double rig trucks, too (trucks and anyone hauling a trailer is limited in California to 55 mph tops, anywhere, anytime). I drove 55 for an hour before I finally pulled off the interstate, switching to side roads.

I got great gas mileage thou, over 40 in my Honda Civic (2001).

Last month I drove the same route but this time at 80 mph. My mileage slipped to 35. I stayed with traffic, mostly. I was STILL passed, once by a Peterbilt rig.

So these stories might not be quite, ahem, accurate.