Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Double NIckel Rides Again

Back after the 1973 oil shock, a cry went up that we could save fuel and cut accidents with a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour.  And so it was.  Congress passed it, the president signed it, and every speed limit sign the length and breadth of America was replaced with new ones reading 55 MPH.
    And everyone hated it.  No one drove any slower, and traffic cops had a field day.  Since everyone was driving well over the limit, they could ticket everyone on the road.
    It took a while, years actually, but the double nickel speed limit was finally repealed.  In a matter of a few days all the speed limit signs were changed back to 65 and 70.
    Yesterday the bureaucrats decided to try again.  They limited their efforts to trucks and buses to avoid political backlash from everybody in the country.  Rather than a speed limit, they want to install speed governors on all big trucks and buses.  The bureaucrats claim it will save fuel and reduce accidents.
  Yeah right.  The professional drivers of heavy trucks and buses are the safest on the road.  They signal, they yield the right of way, they stay in lane, they don't tailgate.  The accident rate for heavy commercial vehicles is far lower than for private automobiles.  And who can make a better tradeoff between fuel economy and getting the cargo delivered on time, trucking companies or federal bureaucrats?
   Question.  How much money did the makers of governors contribute to the Clinton Slush Fund? 


DCE said...

The dreaded 'Double Nickle' was the most ignored and flouted law since Prohibition, universally hated by everyone except the Safety Nazis, the Anti-Destination League, and the various local law enforcement offices whose towns derived a large portion of their revenues from speeding tickets.

I have no doubt that the proponents will once again cite traffic fatalities stats as their reasoning. The first time they did that they tied the decrease in fatalities to the 55 MPH speed limit, showing that fatalities dropped about 10% when 55 was imposed by fiat.

What they chose to ignore was the reason for that 10% drop was that 10% fewer miles were being driven. That actual fatality rate didn't drop outside the standard deviation. You can't look at a chart of the fatality rate (deaths per 100 million passenger miles)and point out when 55 MPH was imposed.

These days the increasing number of fatalities can be tied to two distinct causes: a lot more people are driving and the number of accidents (fatal and non-fatal) caused by driver error/inattention/distraction. If I recall correctly, I believe the NHTSA or NTSB has stated that 94% of all accidents are caused by the driver issue, with the inattention/distraction factors adding a disproportionate number. In other words the number of fatalities would decrease if people put down their damn smart phones and paid attention to driving.

The dreaded 55 MPH NMSL won't have any effect on that...but it will make 'them' feel better because they have taken care of their "Do Something!" quota.

Dstarr said...

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Thus saith Mark Twain many years ago.