I'm not sure if the country is emotionally ready to discuss this in a rational manner, but like it or not, it's out there.
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide optimum gasoline efficiency given current technology. He said he wants to know if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit.
Congress in 1974 set a national 55 mph speed limit because of energy shortages caused by the Arab oil embargo. The speed limit was repealed in 1995 when crude oil dipped to $17 a barrel and gasoline cost $1.10 a gallon.
Warner cited studies that showed the 55 mph speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country's highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year.
"Given the significant increase in the number of vehicles on America's highway system from 1974 to 2008, one could assume that the amount of fuel that could be conserved today is far greater," Warner wrote Bodman.
Warner asked the department to determine at what speeds vehicles would be most fuel efficient, how much fuel savings would be achieved, and whether it would be reasonable to assume there would be a reduction in prices at the pump if the speed limit were lowered.
And for you kids who don't remember the 55 MPH era, here is what was its national anthem: