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55-M.P.H. Speed Limit

November 20, 1986

O'Neill did an excellent job of exposing the Luddite mentality and paucity of technical understanding rampant in his industry.

The 55-m.p.h. speed limit does not save lives. It does waste time, harass otherwise law-abiding citizens, creates disrespect for law enforcement personnel, and turns driving into drudgery.

Highway design standards do not reflect the absolute maximum safe speed for a given roadway, as stated by O'Neill. Design standards relate to worst-case geometric factors such as curve radius. A highway with a 70-m.p.h. design standard can safely sustain 70-m.p.h. speeds for its entire length under normal conditions. However, straight or gently curving sections can sustain much higher speeds.

Design standards also reflect a "lowest common denominator" approach. Consequently there is a large margin of safety to accommodate less competent drivers and less capable vehicles. The vast majority of the rural Interstate system and similar highways can safely accommodate speeds of 70 m.p.h. and higher. That's a fact proven every day in the United States, Canada and Europe.

JAMES J. BAXTER

Dane, Wis.

Baxter is president of Citizens' Coalition for Rational Traffic Laws, Inc.

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