Breaking the speed limit is probably one of the more common ways people break the law. Not only is it easy to do, but there always seems to be a “good reason” for it—you can’t afford to be late for work again, your plane is taking off in half an hour, or the store is closing in just a few short minutes and you really, really need that yogurt for breakfast tomorrow.
Whatever people’s reasons for speeding may be, the unfortunate truth is that we do it way too often, especially considering that most car accidents are caused by speeding. So maybe it’s time to obey the speed limit for a change?
History of 55 mph Speed Limit Day
The national 55 mph speed limit made law by President Nixon on Jan. 2, 1974. The idea behind the law was to improve driving efficiency. The move was also made in direct response to a dispute with OPEC (The Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries) that had led to an oil embargo on the US.
The law required all of the states to comply with the 55 mph (90 km/h) limit in order to qualify for federal funds for highway projects. The law ended up being wildly unpopular, however, leading to the actual enforcement of the law being lax or practically non-existent. Studies conducted at the time found that over 80% of drivers violated the speed limit on many roads anyway. Some states, such as Nevada and Arizona, went as far as to pass that replaced speeding tickets with “energy wasting fines” of $5-15 that nobody took seriously, for various reasons.
In pop culture, the number 55 also became a popular shorthand for the speed limit. As an example, a hand with a pair of fives in Texas hold’em poker is referred to as a “speed limit”, which shows just how much impact the 55 mph speed limit had on the world.
How to celebrate 55mph Speed Limit Day
Maybe the speed limit is not 55 mph any more, and that’s likely a good thing, as reducing it to this amount did not really do anyone a particular amount of good. Still, though, this could be the right day to make a commitment that you will not exceed the speed limit, no matter the situation. The truth is that the speed limit is how much it is for a reason: driving faster could pose serious danger to both you and other drivers on the road. Also, take the time to educate your family and friends about the dangers of not paying attention to safety issues in the car.
Make sure your children understand just how much a seat belt could help them in the case of an accident; that a seat belt could, in fact, save their life. Never let anyone who is even the least bit intoxicated drive, even if they’ve “only had one beer”. Make sure your close ones know that driving when physically tired is as dangerous as driving drunk, and that falling to sleep behind the wheel causes thousands of deaths per year. Also, make sure to emphasize how important it is to make sure your car is checked and services regularly and that all of the functions and devices in it responsible for your safety in case of an accident are working properly.
The speed limit may not be 55 mph anymore, but 55 mph Speed Limit Day is still a good time to think about road safety.