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Driving the Speed Limit: Way Cooler Than You Imagined

27 March 2008

I think the least popular action on the Challenge is driving 55 on the freeway. I understand how people feel about slowing down in their cars – I used to have quite the lead foot myself. However, there are a lot of benefits to driving 55.

First, environmental: Driving 55 on the freeway increases the gas efficiency of your car. When you speed, you are wasting gas – and emitting more carbon dioxide. Driving the speed limit on the freeway can help avoid over 1,000 pounds of CO2 pollution a year.

Secondly, monetary: That gas efficiency that is so good for the environment? It’s saving you money at the pump. You can save over $130 a year just by slowing down. Fueleconomy.gov has a great explanation:

Observe the Speed Limit

Graph showing MPG VS speed MPG decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mphWhile each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.

As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.

Observing the speed limit is also safer.

Fuel Economy Benefit:
7-23%
Equivalent Gasoline Savings:
$0.23-$0.74/gallon

Personally speaking, when I started driving the speed limit, the gas efficiency of my car went up three miles per gallon. That certainly comes in handy with our climbing gas prices!

And lastly, but certainly not least, common sense: driving the speed limit saves lives. Research by the U.S. Department of Transportation has shown that increasing speed limits leads to an increase in fatalities:

A recent [2005] study examined the impact of higher travel speeds on US rural interstates after the repeal in November 1995 of the national speed limit. Researchers found states that had increased their speed limits to 75 mph (120 km/h) experienced a shocking 38 per cent increase in deaths per million vehicle miles than expected, compared to deaths in those states that did not change their speed limits. States that increased speed limits to 70 mph (112 km/h) showed a 35 per cent increase in fatalities. Link

So, driving the speed limit saves you money, reduces pollution and can help reduce accidents – so next time you’re on the road, try it out and see how it feels!

:: Treehugger

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