Does 55 MPH Help Save Money on Gas?
Several weeks ago, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., brought up the issue in a letter to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to test the idea to save gas. His query was returned with a response from the Energy Department recommending that Congress should instead turn its focus to expanding domestic oil and natural gas production.
In 1974, Congress set a national 55 mph speed limit because of the gas shortages caused by the Arab oil embargo. That 55 MPH speed limit was repealed in 1995 when crude oil cost just $17 a barrel (if you can believe that!) and a gallon of regular gasoline cost a mere $1.10. Now, the price of crude oil is currently $123 a barrel and as everyone knows, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $4.12 in the Capital District.
But are car owners really going to realize noticeable savings in energy consumption and be able to improve fuel economy by slowing down the 10-mile-per-hour difference from 65 to 55 on highways and interstates?
According to AAA Northway in Schenectady, probably not. "There are several things motorists should do to conserve fuel. Slowing down is definitely one of them, and the AAA has been strongly encouraging motorists to do so. But the truth is that it is going to take more than driving 55 miles per hour to make significant progress in reducing gasoline use and reducing the nation's energy demands," said AAA spokesperson Christopher Chevalier.
Motorists stand to realize the most significant gas savings by driving in more fuel-efficient ways, namely less aggressively, and by properly maintaining their vehicles.
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