After my friend Lydia tuned in to a Saturday evening TV news discussion about highway speed limits (“Headline Saturday” on WRAL), she left me a phone message that chilled me when I heard it this morning.
I recently had discovered for myself that it isn't safe to drive 55 mph amid all the 70-plus-mph speeders on I-40. So I was alarmed to hear Lydia say she has been driving even more slowly on I-40 -- all in the name of fuel economy.
I’ve been driving 45 mph on the interstate. I only go maybe 10 miles up the interstate -- it is quite dangerous to do that, so you have to pick your time. I’m not out there in rush hour, out there when the crazies are out.
I do get a few that get upset with me. They honk and they show expletives. But nevertheless I get 39 to 40 miles per gallon doing that, and I like that.
Yikes! I called her back and urged her to find a safer route for going 45 mph -- or a safer, higher speed for driving on I-40.
I told Lydia she risks getting a ticket for driving so much slower than the speed limit. But, more important, she risks getting herself and other drivers killed.
Kevin Lacy, the state traffic engineer, explains this risk succinctly: On an interstate highway where the speed limit is 65 or 70 mph and the actual average speed is usually higher, drivers expect other drivers to behave in a certain way and to drive at a certain speed.
They don't expect and they're not prepared to come upon somebody driving much more slowly than everybody else. When you go against their expectations, you're more likely to cause a crash.