July 3, 2008
Influential Republican senator, John Warner of Virginia, suggested on Thursday that Congress consider reimposing a national speed limit to save gasoline.
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to
investigate what speed limit would provide optimum gasoline efficiency given current technology. Warner said he wants to know if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit.
In 1974, Congress set a national 55 mph speed limit because of
energy shortages caused by the Arab oil embargo. The speed limit
was repealed in 1995 when crude oil dipped to $17 a barrel and
gasoline cost $1.10 a gallon.
As motorists headed on trips for this Fourth of July weekend, gasoline averaged $4.10 a gallon nationwide with oil hovering around $145 a barrel.
Warner cited studies that showed the 55 mph speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country's highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year.
Warner asked the department to determine at what speeds vehicles would be most fuel efficient, how much fuel savings would be achieved, and whether it would be reasonable to assume there would be a reduction in prices at the pump if the speed limit were lowered.