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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 05-05-07, 11:33 PM   #1
Domromer
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save gas, drive 55mph?

I heard that in the last big oil crisis the speed limit was lowered to 55mph. Why haven't we done that yet? Wouldn't it save lots of gas? Or maybe just truckers would be forced to go 55mph. I imagine that would save many gallons.

What do you think?
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Old 05-05-07, 11:41 PM   #2
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In many states, like California, trucks are limited to 55mph. One problem has always been making it clear just what is a truck. As I understand, vehicles are calssified by the manufacturer. What I am not clear on is why light and passenger trucks are allowed to skirt the laws by meeting federal regulations as trucks; then apply for treatment as autos under state laws.
A huge change would come about of the rule was, simply, once a truck, always a truck.
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Old 05-06-07, 03:27 AM   #3
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By trucks they generally mean tractor trailers, not light duty passenger stuff. Even then, they'll still go 75mph if given the chance. If enforced, it would create a lot of revenue, save a decent amount of gas, and most importantly imo, drop gas down to ~$1.50/gallon because gas is incredibly inelastic. A one-two percent drop in consumption would send the number of forward days of supply back to ~2000 levels and do the same thing to price. Otoh, by not enforcing it, we end up bumping up against gasoline's inelasticity, meaning it may take going from $2-4 just to drop demand by 1%. Because of this increase in price, government also makes way more from gasoline taxes, so I don't see why they would want to piss off the public/generate revenue by enforcing speed limits when they can have what's likely a greater increase in gasoline taxes thanks to the elasticity of gas.
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Old 05-06-07, 07:26 AM   #4
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Some cars don't even get best mileage at 55. According to my wifes' cars gas mileage display it gets best mileage at about 64mph on flat ground.
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Old 05-06-07, 07:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by maddyfish
Some cars don't even get best mileage at 55. According to my wifes' cars gas mileage display it gets best mileage at about 64mph on flat ground.
Eh... Could be, but usually cars aren't geared that badly. Did you do several alternating bi-directional runs over the same loop within a short amount of time (weather) and CC set at those respective speeds? Make sure the torque converter was locked up in both cases? Etc... For the vast majority of cars, as long as conditions are the same, slower in top gear is better.
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Old 05-06-07, 08:20 AM   #6
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55 mph speed limit would just slow most motorists down by 10 mph, so that means that the two mini vans with families, loaded with luggage, that split us on I-15 going into Vegas (one fast lane, one truck only lane) at 120 mph would now keep it down to a respectable 110 mph.
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Old 05-06-07, 08:27 AM   #7
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We get better than 40 mph at an avg speed of 80 mph with our Jetta. Once we left Illinois on our way to Camarillo, Calf. last summer, we spent most of our trip at around 80, sometimes faster. Round trip we avg 43 mpg. That's good enough for me. At 55 mph I don't really think it would be much better. We don't spend much time at that slower pace.
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Old 05-06-07, 08:42 AM   #8
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Gasser or TDI? Btw, average is computed by taking the distance over the time, being around or above 80 most of the time probably won't result in an 80mph average. The only way anyone can consistently figure these things out is to actually measure them, accurately and precisely.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:03 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
Gasser or TDI? Btw, average is computed by taking the distance over the time, being around or above 80 most of the time probably won't result in an 80mph average. The only way anyone can consistently figure these things out is to actually measure them, accurately and precisely.
Details, details. When I set the cruise for 84 mph (because our Jetta speedometer runs about 3-4 miles fast) and leave it at that speed for hours, I think it's pretty safe to say our avg is close to 80 mph.

TDi.

Now our Grand Caravan is lucky to achieve 24 mph at 70 mph. Even less with the Aegis and Tandem on top of it.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:08 AM   #10
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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...NG3NFAOF11.DTL

Here is an article that talks more about slowing down to 55.

I think the main problem is a mental one. I want to get there as fast as I can it's all about me. Maybe people should be a bit less selfish and think about how much less fuel could be used if they were willing to sacrafice a little speed.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:13 AM   #11
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Something a bit different and slightly off subject course.

Years ago with the first gas crisis in the early 70s, when I was a young punk and still very gullible, an older friend/workmate convinced me that we could drive further in a day at 55 mph than we could at 70. His position rested on his belief that people are less fatigued at 55 mph over the course of a day, therefore they could drive longer. He said driving at 70 mph plus would wear a person out, and they would have to stop earlier. Of course being 18 at the time I believed him, after all he was a fully grown adult and been around to know, right? Through the years with my own mature experience, I have never been able to prove his point. In fact if anything, I have proved to myself that he was full of it.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gus Riley
Details, details. When I set the cruise for 84 mph (because our Jetta speedometer runs about 3-4 miles fast) and leave it at that speed for hours, I think it's pretty safe to say our avg is close to 80 mph.

TDi.
Well... if you drive at 80mph with no slowing down at all for 8 hours, and spend 2 hours at a 40mph average speed, or some approximation of that, you'll only be at ~72mph. In any event, from everyone I've read, TDIs follow the 120-speed=~mpg rule. Meaning 120-70=~50mpg, or 120-80=40mpg. I'm guessing your trip average was ~75-77mph. If you can stand to keep the cruise at 55mph, you should get into the high sixities. Or at 25mph in top gear, ~100mpg. So, if by not much better, you mean an extra ~20+mpg, then sure.

Wrt to what Gus Riley said, it works for me in semi busy traffic, since having everyone pass me means I can just sit back and only worry about what's in front of me as opposed to having to deal/change my speed because of those around me. Otoh, if I were in an area where I could go 70mph non-stop w/ no hassles, then I could probably go farther. YMMV.

Last edited by lyeinyoureye; 05-06-07 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domromer
I heard that in the last big oil crisis the speed limit was lowered to 55mph. Why haven't we done that yet? Wouldn't it save lots of gas? Or maybe just truckers would be forced to go 55mph. I imagine that would save many gallons.

What do you think?
The 55 mph limit saved a lot of gasoline and a lot of lives. It's a shame it was done away with.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:19 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domromer
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...NG3NFAOF11.DTL

Here is an article that talks more about slowing down to 55.

I think the main problem is a mental one. I want to get there as fast as I can it's all about me. Maybe people should be a bit less selfish and think about how much less fuel could be used if they were willing to sacrafice a little speed.
Something else to think about when we slow down. Over the course of a long distant trip, 55 mph speeds might cost us another motel stay. The difference between 55-65 and 75-85 per hour is substantial. Especially toward the end of a long day behind the wheel.

I agree that local driving attitudes that scream "Must Go Faster" are dumb. We all ride bicycles, we all know we will get there and the extra time spent doing it doesn't hurt us one bit.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
... If you can stand to keep the cruise at 55mph, you should get into the high sixities. Or at 25mph in top gear, ~100mpg. So, if by not much better, you mean an extra ~20+mpg, then sure. ...
I'll give it a try and let you know how much better it gets at 55, but I fear an increased risk in being rear ended.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:25 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Ekdog
The 55 mph limit saved a lot of gasoline and a lot of lives. It's a shame it was done away with.
Is there a reference for this claim? I have heard arguments that refute your claim.
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Old 05-06-07, 09:33 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Gus Riley
I'll give it a try and let you know how much better it gets at 55, but I fear an increased risk in being rear ended.
Just stay in the right lane at all times, unless you need to follow a freeway split or something. Semi drivers are generally much better/more polite compared to the average driver imo, and having more room to maneuver (emergency lane/off the road, depending) are all advantages. If you don't want to go 55, go 60 or 65. I went to Vegas with an average speed of ~60mph in my V6 Camry and pulled ~30mpg, but if I drive w/ everyone else, it'll drop to nearly 20mpg. In terms of safety, it's just a matter of kinetic energy/braking distance. at 40mph, if it takes you X distance to come to a stop, it'll take you 2X at ~55mph, and 4X at ~80mph. Double your speed, quadruple your braking distances. It's not a huge difference in fatalities, since most deaths are from drunk driving or run off the road incidents, but it's something imo.

Last edited by lyeinyoureye; 05-06-07 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 05-06-07, 10:12 AM   #18
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You have a lot more time to react at 55mph vs 85mph. Thats a fact.
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Old 05-06-07, 10:25 AM   #19
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I'll give it a try and let you know how much better it gets at 55, but I fear an increased risk in being rear ended.
You could try comparing fuel economy at 65mph and 80 mph.
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Old 05-06-07, 10:34 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gus Riley
Is there a reference for this claim? I have heard arguments that refute your claim.
If you are referring to the part about saving lives, it looks like you might be right. I had a look around on the net, and it appears that the death toll did not go up as I had assumed. Thanks for pointing out my error.

There can be no doubt about the lower speed limit saving gasoline, can there?
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Old 05-06-07, 11:25 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ekdog
If you are referring to the part about saving lives, it looks like you might be right. I had a look around on the net, and it appears that the death toll did not go up as I had assumed. Thanks for pointing out my error.

There can be no doubt about the lower speed limit saving gasoline, can there?
I know at least in NC there was a reduction in the number of deaths, but it was on the secondary roads where the speed limit was already 55mph. The theory is that the number of miles driven dropped and a by product was the number of accidents. However I think the argument that 55 saves lives is valid. Statistically you have a better chance of surviving an accident at 55-60 mph vs 75-80mph. Basic physics...

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Old 05-06-07, 11:46 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domromer
I heard that in the last big oil crisis the speed limit was lowered to 55mph. Why haven't we done that yet? Wouldn't it save lots of gas? Or maybe just truckers would be forced to go 55mph. I imagine that would save many gallons.

What do you think?
I wonder about the direct relevance to those who are (or would like to be) car free. Or the relevance of their opinions on the subject.
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Old 05-06-07, 11:49 AM   #23
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It's relevant for those who would like to be car-lite and minimize gasoline consumption, and even car-free'ers from the POV of transporting goods. Unless of course they don't consumer anything except for what they can build themselves. But I think those car-free'ers wouldn't be on the forum in the first place.
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Old 05-06-07, 01:26 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
I wonder about the direct relevance to those who are (or would like to be) car free. Or the relevance of their opinions on the subject.


Unless you are producing all your own food and products than you are effected by gas and how much is used. It doesn't matter if you are car free or not.

So it makes all opinions relevant.
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Old 05-06-07, 01:52 PM   #25
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I wonder about the direct relevance to those who are (or would like to be) car free. Or the relevance of their opinions on the subject.
It really pains me to agree with you, but I was wondering the same thing. Of course, OTOH, decreasing gas consumption worldwide is (or should be) of relevance to everybody. But the best way to do that, in terms of this forum, is to drive less, not slower.
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