55


#1

Why is the 55mph mark on my speedometer emphasized ? It’s an 87 Honda. My friend’s 90 Toyota is the same way.

Just curious.


#2

It reflects the national 55 mph speed limit, which went into effect in 1974 and was repealed, one little piece at a time, starting in the late 1980s.


#3

Back in the 1070s the federal government, in order to reduce gas consumption during the “oil crisis”, told all 50 states that they must reduce their highway speeds to 55 mph max and legally allow right turns at red lights (after stopping) or lose federal highway funding.

The U.S. constitution reserves all rights not specifically granted to the federal government for the states. Highway laws are such rights. However extortion is a well practiced tactic of the federal government when they want to mandate something but do not have the constitutional authority. You can see how well the feds obey the constitution.


#4

Montana followed the letter of the law, and fined those going over 55mph. In that state (big sky country) 55 literally puts you to sleep, so the trooper would stop you and fine you $5 on the spot, which you paid, and got a receipt for. The trooper would then wish you a happy journey and turn the other way so you could speed off to your destination. Montana kept its much needed federal highway funding.


#5

In a lot of western states, during the 55mph days, if you got caught speeding you would get a $5 ticket for “wasting resources”.

As for your speedo, for a very short period of time, I think from maybe 1981-83, the feds put in rules that stated that speedometers could only go up to 85 and must have 55 clearly marked. Though the 85 part got repealed pretty quick, although most American cars still had them till the end of the decade, but most cars kept the 55 thing.


#6

Ah! You beat me to it. Although speeding tickets here are still only fourty bucks and you can still pay them on the spot. In fact, the first one I got here before I had moved out permanently, the Trooper made me drive to the next town and get the cash out of an ATM!


#7

Actually, the silly 85 mph speedometer requirement ended in '82. My '83 benz has a real speedometer from the factory, but my '82 originally had a 85 mph speedo with the 55 mph highlight (I had to replace it with a unit from a later year).


#8

“My '83 benz has a real speedometer from the factory, but my '82 originally had a 85 mph speedo with the 55 mph highlight (I had to replace it with a unit from a later year).”

You had to because it annoyed you to no end or because the old one was broken? My vote is on the former. ;^)


#9

While we’re on the subject of speeding tickets, the bus driver at Dulles Airport informed us all on the way to our cars last week that the Virginia State Police have recently begun cracking down on all (as in every) speeders. Apparently the fine for driving 20+ MPH over the speed limit is north of $3000 and enough points to lose your license for quite a while. Yes, the decimal point is in the right place - three thousand dollars.


#10

“You had to because it annoyed you to no end or because the old one was broken? My vote is on the former. ;^)”

It annoyed me.


#11

I always thought those 85 MPH speedometers with the 55 highlighted was nothing more than a psychological ploy to create an impression. The driver would see that the speedo needle was on 55 which is not too far away from the 85 MPH speedometer stop so therefore they must be really hauling, huh?
Kind of like looking at 90 on a 120 MPH speedometer.

Those 85 MPH ones irritate me too. That’s why I pulled the 85 MPH ones out of my SAABs and installed the 125 MPH version.
:slight_smile:


#12

I believe that was the logic of the 85 mph, some kind of DOT PSYOPS I guess. They always annoyed me because it was such a silly, transparent ploy.


#13

Those 125 MPH annoyed me also, thats why I installed a 217 MPH version in my Daewoo


#14

^^ ha!

well, if it was psyops, it worked as reverse psychology for me. Being a teenager in the vast open roads of west TX, I maxed my '78 Lincoln Continental (w/ the 460) many a time. To this day, I’m not entirely sure how fast I was going (maybe 120-130ish?), but that 85 speedo always gave me the comfort to go ahead and push’er a little more.


#15

Many states have that…It’s called reckless endangerment. 20mph over the speedlimit on a open flat road is one thing…20mph over the limit in MA on 495 during rush hour is something totally different. I suspect it’s the same in DC area.


#16

Does the needle even move when you have it at full throttle???


#17

Yup, back then my girlfriend had a new BMW with 85 mph speedo and I usually keeps it pinned on long trips.


#18

“Does the needle even move when you have it at full throttle???”

OK, now I get the joke, I had no idea what a Daewoo is (was).


#19

Actually there was NEVER a NATIONAL 55 speed limit…Each state was REQUIRED to set the speed limit to 55 or loose federal money for building highways. Speed limits are states rights…NOT federal.

NH kinda complied with the order. They never passed a law mandating 55…but they posted the signs…AND if you drove faster then what the sign said you were given a ticket. And there were cases of people fighting this and winning because it was never put into law.


#20

I rented a Daewoo once on a business trip. It was OK…Just a cheap rental car that was well under powered. I drove it as little as possible.