Skip to comments.Drivers Are Reducing Their Speed (High Gas Prices Lead to Fewer Fatalities)
Posted on 06/01/2008 5:18:05 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
Wisconsin motorists appear to be driving slower than they were this time last year, and a State Patrol official says the $4-plus cost of gasoline seems to be a major reason.
And as speeds seem to have dropped, so have the number of traffic fatalities in the state - by 29% so far this year - while state troopers and sheriff's deputies are reporting that they are seeing fewer vehicles on the state's freeways.
While some of it is anecdotal, evidence is beginning to mount that gasoline prices are having a marked effect on the driving habits of many Wisconsin residents.
The state Department of Transportation has found that motorists on four-lane state highways and freeways have reduced their average speed by a little more than 1 mph over the last year.
That may not seem like much, but when taken across the estimated 60 billion miles driven each year in the state, it adds up. It's the first time in seven years that the speeds on freeways and major highways have dropped.
"The troopers see a general drop in overall speed," said Maj. Dan Lonsdorf, director of the State Patrol's Bureau of Transportation Safety. "People are driving slower partly because the price of gasoline is so much higher."
Traffic was moving at slightly less than 69 mph on average in late April and early May, authorities said. A year earlier, the average speed was just above 70 mph.
Even though it's only 1 mph, "we think that it is significant," Lonsdorf said. "When you hit something, even if you are going just a mile or two faster, the crash can be so much more violent and less survivable."
As of Friday, the number of traffic fatalities this year is down 82, or 29%, from last year.
"I think that a big chunk of the fatality reduction is that people are slowing down and traveling less," Lonsdorf said.
"Several troopers also said they have seen a noticeable drop in the number of people who are going very fast in the 90s and 100s," Lonsdorf added.
The average speed figures are based on readings measured at 150 automatic traffic recording stations throughout Wisconsin. Speed is measured by how long it takes a vehicle to pass between two points on a highway.
While evidence seems to point to drivers slowing on major highways and freeways, two-lane rural highways are an exception, Lonsdorf said. On those roads, traffic is moving about 1 mph faster to 59 from 58 mph last year, he said.
On Friday, the American Automobile Association said the average price for unleaded regular gasoline was $4.08 per gallon in metropolitan Milwaukee, and the statewide average was $4.
Slowing down unquestionably saves fuel. The AAA says for every 5 mph faster that people drive over 60 mph, it is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon of gasoline.
Consumer Reports magazine recently tested a 2007 Toyota Camry equipped with a four-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission. The Camry got 40 miles per gallon when driven at 55 mph on a Connecticut highway, 35 miles per gallon at 65 mph and 30 miles per gallon at 75 mph.
"So clearly you are saving gas when you are driving slower on the highway," said Gabe Shenhar, the magazine's senior auto test engineer.
While slowing down saves fuel, so does staying home.
Waukesha County Sheriff Daniel J. Trawicki said that during the Memorial Day weekend "deputies definitely saw a decrease in the amount of vehicles on the roadway" compared with previous holidays. "They saw it particularly on I-43 and I-94."
Not all law enforcement officials credited soaring gasoline prices for slowing traffic.
"Changing driving behavior is a very difficult thing to do," Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. said. "I don't think that the price of gas has done that because it's only about a year since it (the price) has spiked."
In Milwaukee County, he said, the slowdown has occurred because his department has more deputies patrolling freeway sites that have had many accidents and high rates of speeding. He called this the department's saturation effort.
The number of crashes on Milwaukee County freeways also has diminished 31% this year.
"You don't get a 31% decline in crashes for the first four months just by chance," Clarke said.
He also said increased congestion on Milwaukee freeways has reduced freeway speeds.
State Troopers are deeply saddened. Less revenue for their Overlords.
However, Checkpoints are UP, so they can stop you and issue you a ticket for pretty much anything they want now from no seatbelt to an illegal hangnail.
Ever get the feeling that the game is rigged? And it's not in our favor!
“The state Department of Transportation has found that motorists on four-lane state highways and freeways have reduced their average speed by a little more than 1 mph over the last year.”
I have noticed the reduction in speed here in Texas as well. When making a trip to El Paso the other day, I only had to drive 80 to keep up with the flow...
I drove back from Memorial Day weekend at between 60 and 65 MPH.
Dozens of large SUVs passed me doing at least 80. Apparently, they have no objection to throwing a $10 bill out the window every 40 miles.
The Amurican pimples aren't moved unless there's a two by four that's beating them over the head (like 9/11).
Fewer SUV sales, demands for higher MPG, demands for more alternative sources and increasing nuke energy and more exploitaion of our own fossil fuel sources are all going to be a result of this.
Here in central TX, where a lot of us drive pickups (me, F-250) are all in the slow lane with our windows down in 98o temps - we can’t afford the gas, let alone the A/C.
I think I get 7 mpg using the air conditioner.
Saturday I drove down to the Virginia State Republican convention. I decided to ease up a bit, so I drove about 65-70. I did notice that several trucks were driving at that speed, when generally trucks either drive at 55, or at 75-80.
So I think the trucks are going slower, and I think that slows down a lot of other traffic that mostly tried to keep ahead of the trucks.
Anyway, on my trip going 65, I ended up round-trip at about 53.1 MPG, which is about as good as I’ve done for a while (I usually get about 48 going at 75-80 MPH).
This is such BS. Everybody knows the faster you go somewhere the less fuel you use getting there. Right?
What kind of car do you drive?
I made a two hundred mile round trip that I usually make every Memorial Day. I did not notice the slower speeds as much as the absence of traffic. The restaurant that I usually eat breakfast at was a lot less crowded than it usually is as well.
If they drove any slower, they’de be going backwards.
I took a trip to my Dads this weekend. Traffic was lighter than normal. The piggybackers were still out in full force and lots of cop cars were visable. Not many were pulled over though. You know that we are going to have to pay for this good behavior, don’t you?
I keep my engine RPM under 2500. Any less and I cannot make it up the hills. I managed to squeeze 50 miles out of a tank of gas though.
I get 32 mpg in my Beemer doing 90.
I agree. They should slow down to 12 MPH.
You should build one of these. It has no windows, will do 150 MPH, and gets great gas mileage.
I’ve increased my commuting mpg from 38 to 51,
largely by driving slower.
The peak mpg for most conventional auto-tranny
vehicles tends to be the slowest speed at which
you usually remain in top gear. This is typically
somewhere between 35 and 45 mph. Even I don’t
drive that slow.
Drive too slow (like more than 10 mph below the
current limit), and you risk being rear-ended by
a less attentive (or more inebriated) driver.
Driving slower is not the real solution.
And the people causing the real problem
don’t actually want a real solution.
Note also that the headline is about fatalities.
They will decline as speed does, but because the
energy dissipated declines, not necessarily
because accident rates decline.
Curiously: “”You don’t get a 31% decline in
crashes for the first four months just by
chance,” Clarke said.”
That sounds more like less overall traffic, period.
But yes, expect people to being driving slower.
I drive at or below (depending on conditions) the limit in the right hand lane all the time, and I used to be amazed at all the NASCAR wannabees blasting past me, hanging on each other’s bumpers. I’ll admit that in the last few months I have noticed fewer vehicles passing me, and acting like fools. I still see the die-hard idiots that continue to drive like gas is $0.30/gal, but they seem to be on the decline.
The traffic along I-25 in Co is unmistakably slower. some as slow as 45, almost unheard of a year ago even here in the mountains.
At least the real slowpokes have the common decency to use the right lane.
this is a setup for the left wing wackos to reintroduce 55 m.p.h. legislation.