Driving slower really does work


To the editor: Why not a lower speed limit indeed! (“Why not lower the speed limit?” July 3-17 NHBR) Recently I came across a factoid from an environmental group stating that reducing one’s speed from 75 to 55 mph would reduce one’s gas consumption a breathtaking 30 percent. I was skeptical, but decided to test out the hypothesis on my 2008 Hyundai Veracruz, a CUV that gets decent if not spectacular highway gas mileage. The test course was my usual route down I-89 from New London to Concord. My usual speed is 71 mph, and my trip computer was telling me I was averaging about 22 mpg at that speed. By lowering my speed to 55 mph (as governed by cruise control and verified by GPS), my computer-reported mileage for the identical trip was an astonishing 28 mpg, a difference of nearly 25 percent. So the factoid proved out. At $4 per gallon, that’s like an immediate savings of $1 on each gallon of fuel, as the result of improved mileage. But what’s even more astonishing has been the silence of our leaders, in the face of this apparently fast and easy way to reduce fuel costs in the short run, and New Hampshire’s fuel consumption in the longer run. No legislation is needed. What’s needed is a good, well-led program to publicize the potential fuel saving from driving at 55 mph, set a good example by putting a 55 mph limit into effect by executive order for all state vehicles, except for emergency runs, urge all local governments to do the same, and urge private sector groups like BIA, AAA, Highway Users and others to promote the program within their constituencies. On the same day I heard a local police official decry the price of cruiser fuel and fret about having to reduce patrol routes and frequency, I saw a Plainfield police car buzzing down I-89 in Warner at about 80 mph. No lights or siren, so I assume no official emergency. The driver apparently didn’t get the memo about slowing down, because unfortunately, nobody has yet sent one out. Isn’t it about time somebody did? Martin L. Gross New London