Saturday, January 2, 2010

On this day: The Double Nickel

When gas prices skied in 1973, one idea to bring down consumption was a national speed limit. Before 1973, many western states had speed limits of 75 or even 80, which led to higher gas consumption. Congress passed a national speed limit in 1974, and mandated 55 as the speed limit nationwide.

It was modified in the mid 1980s to allow for some roads to be 65 mph, and repealed in 1995, hence the big jump. The other bumps are in 2008, when gas prices led some to renew a call for a limit, and the early 1940s, when driving was curtailed by the war, but the lack of interstate highways did not allow for truly high (and wasteful) speeds.

The chart for speed limit is has similar peaks; it's interesting to see how the relevance of speed limit only began in 1900, and has otherwise peaked whenever national limits were set or repealed.

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