- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, has proposed a resurrection of a national speed limit, bringing to mind the neurotic Felix Unger of “The Odd Couple” fame trying to forcefully help a strenuously reluctant little old lady cross the street (“Reduced speed ahead,” Plugged in, Monday). Like so many of his colleagues saturated with good intentions, Mr. Warner ignores the desires of the American people, a sizable majority of whom, including his own son, don’t want a national speed limit. Americans said good riddance to the last one in 1995 after its inflexible and unrealistic limit generated a nationwide disrespect for highway speed limits and created a nation of driving scofflaws.

The senator sincerely wants to help us save money. “I have to try to bring the pressure off the American people at the pumps,” he explains. However, Mr. Warner needs some remedial math.

Imagine taking your family on a 250-mile road trip, 200 miles of which involves highway travel. Driving that portion of the trip at 65 mph instead of 55 mph will save you a little more than a half-hour. If your household income is \$60,000, the value of your time saved is \$16.78; if your household income is \$40,000, you’ll save about \$11; nearly \$28 if \$100,000. If your car mileage drops from, say, 27 mpg to 25 mpg because of driving 65 instead of 55 (my 6-cylinder sedan does not drop this much at those speeds), you will spend an extra \$2.37 in gas at \$4 per gallon.

Perhaps spending 30 minutes less on the highway is worth \$2.37 to you. Or you’d prefer to save \$11 to \$28 rather than \$2.37 in gas. Or you already drive 55 (hopefully in the right lane). The point is that the proper hand on your wallet is yours, not Mr. Warner’s. This is not a safety issue. You can drive safely on many of our interstates at 70 mph and 75 mph. That Mr. Warner is so intent on eliminating a fundamental economic choice because he believes he knows better than the American people how they need to live their lives is one of a number of reasons his retirement is way overdue.

SAMUEL R. LEWIS

Oak Hill, Va.