- Aug 25, 2007
What happens when highway drivers are forced to go 55 mph (it's not pretty)
Everyone's probably familiar with the idea that engines in cars produced today are tuned to burn gasoline most efficiently when the car is moving at about 55 mph, right? I thought I'd heard that some newer cars were tuned for a slightly higher speed (60 or so), but I haven't been able to confirm that. Anyway, the point is that cars do not run their best at 70 or 75 miles per hour.
Nonetheless, most of us don't drive 55, even in areas where that's the speed limit. Some young people in Atlanta decided to commit an "act of civil obedience" and enforce the 55-mph limit on a busy Atlanta-area highway. Let's just say the people behind the 55-mph drivers were not happy, as the video above shows (I wish the kids put as much time into editing the clip as they did with the stunt itself).
Anyway, this video came to our attention thanks to a reader who uses the event to think about whether or not cities should be sending out fleets of cars to do what the young people in the video did. Ticket-enforced speed limits obviously don't make people drive 55, and knowing that you're emitting more than you would at a lower speed doesn't do the trick, either. How important is it to go 55? If you're interested, you can read the full argument in favor of enforcing the limit. What do AutoblogGreen readers think; should we consider the community at large and work harder to make 55 mph the speed people actually drive? Or is 70-75 the right highway speed, and we should push automakers to develop engines that are more efficient at that level? Will EVs make this entire debate moot in two decades' time?
Finally, I think it's only fair to put Sammy Hagar's preemptive response to this idea after the break.
[Source: YouTube h/t to ]