Do you ever break the speed limit?

Well, do you?

Of course you don’t. If you were to admit that you did, then you would be admitting to breaking the law of the land. And only criminals do that, right?

Well, I don’t know about you, but something seems not right, here. We’ve had this national speed limit, 70 miles per hour, in place for some considerable millennia (or so it seems). It’s illegal to drive a vehicle faster than that on our public roads. As far as I’m aware, nobody’s stopping you doing it on a private road (if you can find one)… or if you want to go to Brand’s Hatch, or Silverstone, or one of the other car racing circuits then I’m sure you can drive souped-up beasts as fast as you dare.

So, if the law says that we can’t go any faster than this, and everyone agrees that we shouldn’t do it, then… why are the manufacturers allowed to make vehicles that are capable of going so very much faster than this?

Why don’t the same people who tell us we can’t drive faster than 70 tell them that they can’t make buggies that can go faster than 70?

Woah, what was that? You say that I’m talking about restricting your choice? Errmm… no, I don’t think so… how does it help you to have the ‘choice’ to buy a vehicle that can fly along at speeds in excess of a ton, if there’s nowhere you can drive it legally at that speed? Or, if you feel that forcing the manufacturers to build vehicles that can’t exceed the speed limit is ‘inhibiting your freedom,’ why aren’t you able to buy a gun? Same thing, I’d say, except that you’re used to being unable to go and buy a gun, but you’re not used to the idea of being unable to buy a fast car.

We, as a nation (or perhaps that should even be ‘species’) should be reducing the amount of gaseous junk we throw into the atmosphere. We should also be thinking of conserving the planet’s dwindling fossil fuel reserves. Driving more slowly uses less fuel, so this would be one simple thing we could do towards these ends. Making vehicles with slower top speeds (and perhaps slower acceleration, too?) would kill several birds with one stone, while, incidentally, saving some human lives in the process. Maybe even yours.

(Note: I’m in the UK. Speed limits and gun ownership laws may differ where you are.)

About pendantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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5 Responses to Do you ever break the speed limit?

  1. Chatty says:

    Totally agree that it makes no sense to have cars in the UK that go wayyy faster than the speed limits say. And agree that driving at optimum speed (is that a max of 50 mph) is better for your car, mpg and the environment. Same way that reversing on one’s drive at night, to drive out in the morning saves about 40p a day in petrol ’cause a warm car uses less fuel, better for the environment and the wallet.

    Can’t see it happening in reality tho’ in a global trading community where the same type of vehicle can be driven in countries with a  higher speed limit than we have.

    Begs the question why are we still driving in petrol driven cars at all when there are already viable alternatives ready to rock and roll off of the production lines? Think we all know the answer to that one…….


  2. Polly says:

    Hi Colin,
    Driving, ever hazardous. It would be nice if everybody could feel relaxed enough to slow down. There’s a lot of beautiful scenery out there. If you go too fast, you miss it, and it looks like we could be spoiling it too. Hope you’re well. Polly


  3. Wendy says:

    But want if you want to multi-task with your car and drive at up to the legal speed restrictions on the Queen’s Highway and also drive along the afore mentioned private roads or race circuits at your chosen speed? :-)


  4. gazelle says:

    I agree that we need to reduce our resource use. And capping the top speed is an excellent idea.

    However, it is not quite true that “driving more slowly uses less fuel”. There is a sweet-spot, where the fuel is most efficient at converting to forward movement. It varies depending on the vehicle, but I think it is around 2.3Krpm. Idling is particularly bad: the combustion engine still burns fuel, but we aren’t moving anywhere. It is worth switching off the engine if the car will be stationary for more than about ten seconds (the electronic fuel-injectors mean that a restart uses hardly any fuel).


  5. Pendantry says:

    Driving at 55 rather than 75 uses about 17% less fuel. You’re right, gazelle, that each machine has a ‘sweet spot.’ I’m no mechanical engineer, but I would have thought that, given the right incentives, we ape-descendants have the nouse to optimise the infernal combustion engine to extend the range of that sweet spot.

    As for switching off the car when it’s not moving – yep, I do that all the time.

    Wendy – get real :)

    Polly, yes, one blink and it’s gone. Oh, wait, you’re talking about driving, not my life.

    Mary, yes, alternatives… we’d have electric cars now, not gas guzzlers, if Ford and his oil baron cronies hadn’t driven (‘scuse the pun) them all out of business a century ago :(


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