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Old 07-12-2008, 11:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: Highland, MI
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Arrow 55 is short sighted

55mph is old person thinking. The old people who lived through the 70's think, "Hey we've lived through this before, lets do 55 again and everything will be alright".

This is a very short sighted answer. First, the cars have changed significantly, the driving style has changed, and the technology available has changed.
55 would do very little to improve mileage. People will still drive stupidly. A policy like that won't solve anything if people still sprint to get up to 55, then slam on the brakes at the last second at lights.

So much has changed since the 1970's that we really need to think beyond, he our parents and grandparents did this it will work for us too.

There are a lot more cars on the road, and more freeways, and more traffic lights. Driving at highway speeds or 70+ mph in most modern cars does not impact mileage as much as the stop and go of traffic lights in town, and people stupidly sprinting out of the gate only to stop hard a little ways down the road.

Do really improve the situation we need to:
  1. Educate to conserve MOMENTUM - braking is bad. this could be done with more road markings around lights and intersections:
    • Have designated "coast zones" before lights and stop signs. Enforce a policy that you must coast on red, or if stopped traffic is in front.
    • Have a "no wake" zone after the stop - his one would be harder to enforce but basically have a zone after the intersection where acceleration is limited. Maybe even mechanically using rumble strips like they lay down in construction zones.
    to go along with these changes, we'll need #2 to prevent
  2. Intelligent stop lights - that sense traffic to minimize time spent idleling.. Perhaps have people manually monitor lights and control them during peak times. Most cities have traffic centers anyway.... Think air traffic control - the controllers could probably control the flow of several lights, their job would mainly be to "tweak" the timings if they see too large of backups starting to form. communication with specific drivers would also be kinda cool either through mandated radios or through large signs... "TYK-765 merge right and speed up 10MPH"
  3. Universally allow right turns on red.
  4. Allow "rolling stops" at stop signs. If you are coasting to a stop sign you can safely judge when to go through.
  5. Signs marking "coast zones" to alert traffic that people may be slowing down w/out brakes, and to alert people where is will be a good place to coast.
  6. Increase the length of turning lanes, so traffic can flow better around cars waiting to turn. Always have right turn lanes. (I hate being behind someone turning left from the right lane on a two lane road that allows left turns from the right lane!)
  7. Limited enforcement during peak times. If cars are moving along at 85 - let them, if a single idiot is crusing by them at 100+ let him go, usually traffic is too dense for people to try that anyway. Singling out a single car from the herd does make everyne slow down, usually too much and causes major congestion and literally tons of wasted fuel. If someone does cause an accident by driving recklessly, increase the penalties.
  8. More adoption of 4 day work weeks. Here some ways to encourage it on a larger scale:
    • tax breaks, on companies to encourage it.
    • commuters of 20 miles or more round trip must be allowed to opt for a 4 day work week, or be allowed to tele-commute at least one day.
    • make 4 day work weeks mandatory for all companies with more than 20 full time employees. If they choose to opt-out the company must pay for extra day of fuel.
A few more thoughts on this:
There are a couple places on my commute that when I coast going 55 I speed up to 65-70. I would not want to get pulled over for coasting. Why penalize efficient cars?

If anything it will discourage people from buying the efficient ones, and give them a crutch to continue buying large wasteful ones.

Personally my mileage does not significantly change if I am going 55 or 65. I am sure it impacts others much more; but my point is why penalize efficient cars, and in effect make they less efficient when considering time into the equation.

Bottom line is this is a very complex problem and a one-size fits all band-aid really won't help much, and in fact may hurt things more. The old folks in DC, and at al levels of gov't need to actually think, rather than blindly follow history.
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