Speed Limits Speech Topics

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Individual states set their own speed limits.
Individual states set their own speed limits. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The recurrence of speed-limit discussions coincides with several factors, most commonly fuel prices or shortages. However, speed also affects safety, and both opinions and research abound that support varying theories on how officials should determine and set speed limits, how frequently, for whom, and whether the federal government should have a say in individual state speed limits. Currently, speed limits vary by state, so you can compare statistics as part of your speech.

Speed Limits Should Undergo Regular Review

Drivers have become accustomed to speed limits being static and unchanging for several years — even decades — for many highways. Yet the National Motorists Association advocates “periodic” adjustments and setting speed limits at the rate of speed driven by 85 percent of motorists on a given road or highway. This could also change the way speed-limit laws are set and raise other issues, such as adequate public education of more frequent changes.

Some traffic engineers recommend periodic reviews of speed limits.
Some traffic engineers recommend periodic reviews of speed limits. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Return to 55 mph

All states in the U.S. adopted the 55 mph speed limit by 1974 to avoid losing federal highway funds. The lower speed was touted as a way to combat the fuel crisis of the 1970s and remained unchanged until 1987 when states were allowed to raise speeds on certain highways. Research points to fuel savings at slower speeds, as well as increased safety.

For years 55 mph was the universal speed limit across the U.S.
For years 55 mph was the universal speed limit across the U.S. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Semi Trailer Trucks

It takes longer to stop a semi trailer truck than a smaller vehicle, even if such trucks are equipped with the best braking technology, such as air brakes. Some states have lower speed limits for semi trailers for this very reason, while others implement slower speed requirements only for nighttime driving. Some individuals are concerned that speed-law variation for different vehicles decreases traffic safety.

Some states have different speed limits for semi trailer trucks.
Some states have different speed limits for semi trailer trucks. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Airlines and Speed

Airlines can also save fuel when traveling at reduced speeds. This obviously increases the travel time, which may not be popular with air passengers — unless, perhaps, they were educated about the reason, and the savings is passed to customers by eliminating or reducing other fees that have become commonplace in air travel.

Airplanes also save fuel when traveling at slower speeds.
Airplanes also save fuel when traveling at slower speeds. (Image: Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

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