At the time, there had been other speed laws for non-motorized vehicles such as horse-drawn wagons, including laws banning such wagons from proceeding at “a gallop.” But the 1901 Connecticut law prompted other states to start passing similar laws, which eventually led to you getting that speeding ticket.
Some of our readers may remember the 1970s when rising gas prices caused states to lower speed limits, culminating with President Richard Nixon in January 1974 signing the National Maximum Speed Law, making the national speed limit 55 mph. I recall a public service campaign designed to get drivers to obey the new laws. One 1978 television commercial that stood out for me was one about Grinnell, Iowa. In my many years of driving, I have often thought about the commercial that makes a powerful argument for not driving too fast. The producers do a good job of drawing you in before hitting you with a powerful — and yes manipulative — message. In case you do not remember the commercial, check it out below.
By 1987, though, concerns about fuel supplies diminished and Congress passed a law allowing states to raise speed limits up to 65 mph. Then in 1995 the national speed limit was completely repealed, leaving it up to each state to set its own speed limits. Apparently, we decided we wanted to get to our destinations faster even if we were to wipe out poor Grinnell.
While many credit the 1987 increase and the later 1995 repeal to a drop in concern about fuel availability, I give full credit to a protest song by Sammy Hagar, “I Can’t Drive 55,” which was released in 1984 on his VOA album. It is one of the most famous songs written in response to Congressional legislation.
Hagar has explained that he came up with the idea for the song when he was driving in upstate New York at 2 a.m. after returning to the U.S. after a long plane trip. When an officer pulled over Hagar for going 62 mph on a four-lane highway, a weary and exasperated Hargar uttered the immortal words, “I can’t drive 55,” realizing immediately it was a great idea for a song. As soon as he arrived to his house in Lake Placid, he sat down and wrote the rest of the song. And the rest, like the national speed limit law, is history.
What is your favorite song about speeding? Leave your two cents in the comments.
(Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)