55 mph

If you drive 70 mph on one of our nation’s interstate highways you will see plenty of cars zipping past you. If you drive 60 mph you might feel like you’re standing still. I’ve been experimenting with driving slower in preparation for switching from my MINI Cooper (which rides nicely at 100 mph) to a restored Land Rover truck which has a top-end of 50 mph. Or 55 mph, depending on who you ask.

The National Maximum Speed Law prohibited speed limits higher than 55 miles per hour. It was drafted in response to oil price spikes and supply disruptions during the 1973 oil crisis. The law was widely disregarded by motorists and it was modified in 1987 and 1988 to allow up to 65 mph limits on certain limited access, rural roads. Congress repealed the law in 1995, fully returning speed limit setting authority to the states.

I set my cruise control on 60 last week and cringed a bit watching approaching cars in my rear-view mirror. At 55 I might turn on my flashers. I’ll make some short runs on the highway but no long trips. Fun for around town but no good for getting somewhere in a hurry. And everybody is in a hurry. I didn’t really see that until I stopped.

Swapping my MINI for the Land Rover will be an adjustment. But I’m at the adjustments point of life so that’s okay. I’ve been hanging out on some Land Rover forums and old hands there tell me driving one of these old trucks demands a level of awareness. Braking, turning, simply starting the truck… Everything demands more thought. Mare attention. I find this appealing. (Ask me again in six months)

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