[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvV3nn_de2k

This past week I passed the aftermath of a fatal accident on a highway. The next day when I looked up the accident report I learned that the victim was a thirteen year old boy. He was travelling with his dad and brother. According to the news “Troopers say (the father), was driving a Honda Civic when he came up behind the slower moving tractor-trailer. The(driver) started to change lane, but hit the back end of the rig, sending his car into a skid across the median.” The posted speed limit for the area is 70 miles per hour. It is believed he was going slightly in excess of that while passing.

I can’t help but wonder how different the outcome would have been if everyone had been driving slower. I am not the only one who thinks slowing down can save lives. An article at US News and World Report stated:

Researchers tracking fatalities attributed 12,545 deaths and 36,582 injuries in fatal crashes to higher speed limits implemented during the 1995-2005 study period.

“Our study clearly shows that policy can directly result in more deaths as well as reducing deaths on our country’s roads,” said lead researcher Lee S. Friedman of the division of environmental and occupational health sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

While the savings are minimal slowing down also saves on fuel. I don’t know about you but even minimal sounds like a step in the right direction to me given the pain I feel every time I fill up. According to the Sierra Club you not only save fuel at lower speeds but leave less of a carbon foot print as well.

The final added benefit that I am aware of is that it reduces our dependence on foreign oil. drive55.org tells us:

In 1974 the 55 MPH national speed limit was enacted as an emergency measure to reduce our dependence on imported crude oil that totaled about 36% of U.S. consumption. It worked and 1985 marked a record low of less than 28% imported oil. About this same time Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive Fifty Five” was made popular and in 1987 congress relaxed the law to allow 65 MPH on Rural Highways. Consumption of imported oil began to skyrocket but nonetheless in 1996 the national 55 MPH speed limit was repealed and 12 years later, in 2008, U.S. dependence on imported oil has more than doubled to over 60%.

Unlike Mr. Hagar I think I could drive 55. My time is valuable but it is not more valuable than my life. It is not more valuable than my children’s lives. How about you – could you drive 55?

– Maggie AAR