Texas has seen fit to raise its speed limit on rural highways to 80 m.p.h.
If you lived through the Nixon years you might remember that one of the legacies of his administration was the national speed limit of 55 m.p.h. also known as “the law we can live with”. We lived with it so well that only 5% of the driving public complied with it. It was passed under the guise of helping our nation reduce its dependency on oil as an energy source, but soon became a stealthy way for states to increase revenue and provide insurance companies with a palatable excuse to gouge its customers.
Nixon resigned, but this law was maintained “to save lives” for over twenty years. The logic was impecable. If you drove fast you must be driving dangerously and if you were to have an acident more people would be killed. It sounded logical, but as is so often true, reality does not support the contention.
For ten years we have been free of the national speed limit and guess what? The highway fatality rate has declined!
After all the experts told us to be prepared for bloody carnage on our highways after the limit was repealed. Ralph Nader (who had never had a drivers license in his life) assured all who would listen that “history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life”. The Clinton administration warned that “more Americans would die and be injured on our highways”.
Instead the highway fatality rate has declined by 16%, injuries have declined by 37%, crashes have declined by 33%, and even pedestrian deaths have declined by 16%. These are figures from our government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Maybe Patric Henry was right when he said “Give me Liberty or give me death”.