Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Spain has reduced its speed limit, from 120 kmh to 110 (about 68 mph). So of course some are asking whether the U.S. should similarly put on the brakes.

It’s ’70s déjà vu: OPEC was throwing its cartel weight around, Nixon responded with wage and price controls, which led to long lines at gas stations. And, for the first time, the federal government cajoled states to reduce highway speed limits to 55 mph.

We still argue about the results. Freeway deaths went down, to hurrahs.

But, forced to travel 55 or thereabouts, more and more drivers opted to drive the secondary roads, roads less capable of handling increases in speed and congestion. Traffic fatalities there went up.

Most obviously, we saved gas but wasted time.

If you are narrowly focused on one thing — gasoline used, in toto — you are unlikely to care. But wasting people’s time comes with many social costs, from fewer hours spent with kids to more hours driven drowsily. So a number of deaths by speed were swapped for a number of deaths by fatigue.

Right now each of us can save gas — by driving less, or slower, or trading in the commuter car for a motorcycle. But each of these comes at a cost, with trade-offs ranging from lost productivity to what for some would be a net loss in safety.

Any attempt to force such trade-offs as policy warrants careful thought, a reasonable understanding of all the costs.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

2 Comments

  1. John, Illinois says:

    Yes traffic deaths went down in 1974 when they 55 MPH limit was imposed–because the economy went into the tank. Traffic fatalities always follow the economy. The highest NUMBER of fatalities occur between 7-9 AM and 3-6 PM Monday through Friday–when people are going to and from work. The highest rate occurs Saturday and Sunday mornings between 1 and 2 AM–when the bars close, but that is the highest rate, not the highest number of deaths. People drink in bars less when they have no money. Added to that, the price of fuel doubled, greatly curtailing the driving of people with little money, like teen drivers.

  2. Drik says:

    Government means never having to worry about the results, only the intentions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2017 Common Sense with Paul Jacob, All Rights Reserved. Back to top