They say driving 55 will save the polar bears.
They say driving 55 will bring world peace.
They say driving 55 will stop global warming.
They, the folks at www.drive55.org, might have a point. Though for most of us living in civilized America, the only way a polar bear is going to slow us down is if one is standing on the interstate.
If Americans are going to make a change, I think it’s pretty well understood that we had better see an immediate and measurable impact that benefits us directly.
It’s hard for me to believe, or even care, that getting from point A to point B a few minutes slower than normal will have any effect on a polar bear living roughly 6,223,989 miles away. But tell me I could save 20 bucks and you’ve got my attention.
Gas costs around 4 dollars per gallon. And Americans use about a trillion gallons of gas per year. Yes, we probably should do something to reduce how much we use.
Normally I’m the first to write off a group like drive55.org as extremists, but this time, I could be influenced enough to agree. The math is simple: we drive slower, we use less gas, we pay less in fuel costs. Count me in.
Of course that also means we have to drive slower. A lot slower. Would Americans be willing to do that? Absolutely not. I think most of us would rather pay the speeding tickets than slow to a pace our grandfathers would approve of.
But what if the consequences were a little more severe? What if a revoked driver’s license loomed on the horizon if you crested it at 75 MPH?
If I were the boss at drive55.org, that’s what I would demand. If the group wants some serious attention, they should advocate for consequences that actually mean something close to home.
Saving the polar bears just isn’t going to cut it.
If this country is serious about reducing it’s consumption of gasoline, there are two things that will make a measurable impact immediately and require no new technology or infrastructure. The first has already happened: increased fuel prices. The second is lowering the speed limit, with severe consequences for breaking it.