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Do you, gentle readers, remember the Carter years?  Due to Bidenflation, memories of those puckered days are being dredged up from the muck in which anyone who lived through them would prefer they eternally remain.  Among the joys of living in the age of “malaise,” was the national 55 MPH speed limit.  Oh what a joy that was for people who actually had to drive more than to-the-grocery-store-and-back distances.

I was, as Shakespeare put it, a callow youth then, and often drove 4-8 hours across the state, plying my occasional trade as a musician.  Due to gas shortages, which led to many gas stations significantly curtailing their hours—most weren’t open 24/7/365 back then–I worked with stations and would leave gas cans with just enough gas to get me home on the return trip from gigs hidden on the premises.  When I came through at 0200, despite the station being closed, I could fuel up just enough to make it back to my own little bed.

Mine was blue
credit: classic motorbikes.net

Before the onset of Carter, I could fuel the two-gallon tank on my Yamaha 180 for 50 cents.  A sheet of ¾” plywood, good on one side, was only about $6 bucks.  Good times.

In some Midwestern states, highway patrol officers would fill every lane, driving abreast so no one could pass, and drive 54 MPH completely across the state, with very angry drivers lined up for tens of miles behind them.  That’s the kind of thing some people will do if they get a little power.  It took years for those HP agencies to shake off the hatred of the public over those idiotic stunts.

But 55 saved fuel and lives!  Not so much: 

The speed limit was enacted by Congress in March 1974 as part of a package of measures dealing with the oil crisis mph, it was thought, was the most efficient use of an auto’s engine and thus would save fuel. As it turned out, however, the energy actually saved was minimal-at best 1 percent of gasoline consumption or about the same amount a driver could realize by increasing the pressure of his radial tires from 24 to 26 pounds.

Various studies showed a decline in traffic deaths during the 70s and 80s, for which 55 proponents claimed credit, but in truth, traffic accidents per capita had been declining since the advent of the automobile.  Obviously, traffic accidents at slower speeds tend to impart lesser force to vehicle occupants, however, a great many other factors are at play.

In many states, particularly those where long distance driving were the necessary norm, compliance was only about 15%.  That amazingly unpopular law was, in large part, the birth of the radar detector industry, just as the later Clinton gun ban was the birth of subcompact handguns with at least 10 round capacity.  Americans are like that.  So angry were people over the law and initially heavy-handed enforcement tactics, most of America’s police used their discretion and stopped enforcing the law.  Many states essentially decriminalized violations of 55, merely issuing $15 dollar citations that cost no license points for “wasting fuel.”  Finally acknowledging the federal law that imposed 55 was the most violated law in history, it was repealed in 1995.

Today in Wyoming, for example, one can travel at 80 MPH on most interstate highway stretches.  As long as drivers maintain the same speeds, it’s no problem.  Computer controlled, fuel injected engines are more frugal with fuel than ever, even at contemporary highway speeds.  While one might save a bit of fuel driving at 65 MPH rather than 75 MPH, that small potential fuel savings is far from the only issue.  Time is money, and most Americans would prefer to have that time with their families rather than driving unnecessarily slowly.

Circa 2022, we live not in the age of malaise, but dementia and woke lunacy.  The Harris/Biden/Whoever Administration, Joe Biden, Temporary President, has unleashed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on us.  What are his qualifications for that post, you ask?  Well, as Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he was unable to fix that city’s horrific pothole problem.  And…no. That’s it; that’s all he was able to not accomplish for transportation.  The American Thinker explains what birthing person Pete has planned for America:

After failing to conquer the coronavirus, the Biden administration has now set its sights on traffic fatalities.  In fact, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, apparently back from a lengthy paternal leave, has a plan to reach “zero roadway fatalities’ in the coming years.  Buttigieg recently told the Associated Press that the Biden administration is preparing to roll out a new ‘safe system’ plan designed to decrease traffic fatalities nationwide.

Zero roadway fatalities”?!  Is that even possible?  Of course!  It’s just as possible as shutting down the Coronavirus, and Joe did that, didn’t he?  Didn’t he?  Oh.

Buttigieg stated: ‘Even through a pandemic that led to considerably less driving, we continue to see more danger on our roads.’  He added, ‘We cannot tolerate the continuing crisis of roadway deaths in America,’ especially because they are ‘preventable.’

To some very small degree, with some kinds of accidents, there may be a kernel of truth in which Buttigieg says, but overall, that’s utter nonsense.  You knew this was coming, didn’t you?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) said roadway safety is ‘inextricably linked with the Biden-Harris Administration’s equity and climate goals’ and that, you guessed it, traffic fatalities ‘disproportionately affect communities of color.’

Of course!  Roads are racist, so why not traffic accidents and deaths too?  I wonder which auto maker is racist, or perhaps all are?  You don’t think accomplished transportation experts like Pete are going to be satisfied with merely slightly reducing carbon emissions, do you?  He has a planet to save, equitably of course!

Buttigieg asserted, ‘Today we commit that our goal is this: zero.  Our goal is zero deaths.  The decision to commit to that goal in a serious way at a national level changes the way cities and towns design roads, changes the way companies build cars, changes the way people drive.’

Uh-huh.  And how is the single most unqualified person in history to be Transportation Secretary going to achieve the impossible?  About how you’d expect:

Components of the ‘safe system plan’ include increased use of traffic cameras, regulations mandating automatic emergency braking in all new passenger vehicles, lower speed limits, creation of many more dedicated bike and bus lanes, and requiring automakers to install anti-drunk driving technology in all motor vehicles.

Sure.  Basically, the federal government is going to mandate all manner of changes to new vehicles that will dramatically raise the price, and make them far less practical and much more dangerous. Also mandated will be spy hardware and software so government can track our every move.  All of this will make driving as expensive and inconvenient as possible, which is really the point.  Doubt me? I’ll explain shortly. Net result: far less individual liberty, far more government power.  Ah!  Now you’re getting it.

Traffic Cameras:  There is substantial evidence traffic cameras actually make driving more dangerous.  Unquestionably, people hate them and the politicians that installed them.  It has also been recently discovered that traffic cameras, like roads, are racist.  They also serve to deny due process, but they do have one advantage: they are successful at generating huge amounts of money that virtually never is applied to road maintenance.  Overall, just the sort of thing D/S/Cs would think a win.

credit: terratrike.com

Bike And Bus Lanes:  As usual with D/S/Cs their master plans are made only for urban, coastal areas.  Flyover Country is ignored–hated of course–or punished.  In much of America, there are no busses, so no bus lanes.  In Flyover Country, bike lanes, where they exist, tend to be integrated with sidewalks, not roadways.  And of course, in parts of the country where winter occasionally appears, riding a bike is more, not less, dangerous.  In fact, bicycling injuries and deaths have been increasing for years.  Increasing the number of bikers will only increase the number of deaths, but at least they won’t be motor vehicle related.  Why more?  Bikes can easily attain speeds up to 40 MPH, but riders have virtually no protection in falls and collisions.  On factor bureaucrats never consider is bikes are not for most older Americans, and one can’t carry home the groceries on a bike, nor can they carry a family.  Unless one is a very serious rider, bikes are only short distance conveyances.

Breathalyzers:  This technology has been around for awhile, but has never caught on, because people don’t want it, and it’s unreliable.  Imagine someone needing to take a family member to the emergency room, but too bad, so sad.  It’s very cold, and the battery is flat.  No power, no BA, no start.  Or perhaps the BA misreads and locks the ignition?  Just try not to bleed so much while you wait the required number of minutes to try again.

Protera’s 40 foot, 40 passenger model

Electric Vehicles:  This wasn’t mentioned in the article, but as regular readers know, this is also a major Administration push.  As regular readers also know, electric busses have been a disaster, and other electric vehicles are not ready for prime time and are grotesquely expensive while delivering far less than the average Toyota Camry.

credit: reddit.com

Pete is also planning to charge Americans for every mile they drivea mileage tax.   Why a mileage tax?  Because if Pete gets his way and everyone is forced to drive an EV, there will be no more revenue from gas and diesel fuel.  I’ve explained why mandating EVs is entirely impractical, actually impossible, but that won’t stop true believers like Pete, who will be more than happy to hike gas taxes while also imposing a mileage tax, none of which will actually go toward improving infrastructure, which these days is defined as everything other than infrastructure.  They don’t care if mandating EVs is impossible any more than they care that eliminating anything but wind and solar electric generation is impossible.  The point is power, control over America’s lives.

Actually, EVs are merely a stop-gap measure, a stepping stone on the path to outlawing individually owned vehicles.  A benevolent government doesn’t want people thinking wrong thoughts, saying or doing wrong things, or going where they please without government permission.  Why people could get hurt!  Climate change!  You’re a racist, and shut up!

Final Thoughts: Mere existence requires acceptance or reasonable risks.  In a free society, people are free to decide how many of those risks they wish to take, and equip themselves accordingly.  Few think owning and driving their own, useful, vehicle a more than reasonable risk.  Unless we are willing to abandon the conveniences of modern, individual transportation, return to a pre-industrial standard of living, we can never achieve anything close to no traffic fatalities.  Actually, for much of America, individual vehicles are not a mere convenience, but a necessity.

We also need to keep in mind government’s record in the kinds of mandates people like Pete Buttigieg are so eager to force upon us all. Why, one might even think there are more pressing issues in 2022 America.  To paraphrase William F. Buckley, I’d rather be governed by people chosen randomly from the Casper, Wyoming telephone book than the Federal Government.