In 1974 an effort to reduce fuel consumption resulted in passage of a federal law to prohibit speed limits in excess of 55 mph. It is ironic that in 2014, with climate change a clear danger, speed limits remain considerably higher. Sadly, even the current limits are often ignored and, in some cases, state law requires or permits drivers to exceed the posted limit.
An example from “Rules of the Road” (Bellingham Herald, May 12, 2014) states that, “A person may not drive a vehicle in an emergency zone at a speed greater than the posted speed limit.” Is the implication that one is free to speed before and after the emergency zone?
In another “Rules” column a writer asks about driving the speed limit in an area where signage states “Illegal to delay five or more vehicles” and is advised that the “normal flow of traffic” establishes the speed limit. Apparently the majority, in this situation, can establish the speed limit by stepping on their gas pedals. This seems to be true in HOV lanes as well where speeds are frequently in excess of the posted limit. Thankfully it is legal to drive the posted speed limit in the HOV lane if one does not mind the occasional impatient tailgater.
It is my hope that a courageous government will respond to the threat of climate change by lowering speed limits nationwide and an emphasis on enforcement will change our attitude.