Speed ScamIn response to the Aug. 20 letter of...


August 29, 1994

Speed Scam

In response to the Aug. 20 letter of self-appointed traffic expert Charles Herr, I would like to share a bit of reality with him.

First, as to his assertion that "our highways are engineered for the specified speed limits." If you have been driving for long enough, you will remember when the speed limits on our interstates actually were 70 to 80 mph. These were disregarded by our illustrious President Carter during the "gas crisis" of the '70s.

Then we were shown, with some dubious pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo, how a 55 mph speed limit would somehow save gas.

No hard evidence was ever offered to prove this position, and some years later apologists came up with the obtuse "55 saves lives" to try to salvage a policy with no merit but lots of easy speeding-ticket revenues.

As for Mr. Herr's statement that "thorough testing for safety" resulted in a 55 mph speed limit, no one ever tested this as a safety measure.

It was sold to the American public as a gas-saving measure and nothing else. The safety angle was created only after the public realized that there was no appreciable fuel savings for most cars by slowing to a crawl on our interstates, and localities feared the loss of revenue if the speed limits were raised back to their originally designed levels.

Today's cars are safer, easier to drive and, yes, faster than cars of 20 years ago.

And it is not just the "high performance" cars that Mr. Herr laments that are capable of speeds well in excess of the posted maximum. Even my father's Honda Accord is now a safe, solid vehicle at 90 mph.

In fact, unless you're a die-hard hippie driving a Beetle or a second-hand Yugo, your car is more comfortable and smoother at 70 mph than at 55 mph.

The 55 mph speed limit was a bad law when it was passed and it is still a bad law today.

It was originally a scare tactic pushed by big oil companies looking for any bogus reason to snow the American public into paying twice as much for gasoline, but it has become a bottomless barrel of pork money that many states are reluctant to pull their hands from.

Only when the public gets wise to the scam and puts some pressure on elected officials will we see any change.

William M. Smith


Parochial Column

Regarding his Aug. 16 column, it's obvious that Michael Olesker is desperate to defend the Baltimore region's God-given right to eternally possess the Governor's Mansion. No other region need apply, according to Mr. Olesker, and he's got proof.

Five years ago a colorful state senator from Clinton said some nasty things about Baltimore. That man has just recently shaken hands with Paris Glendening, candidate for governor.

Well, everybody, let's take the Prince George's county executive out back and shoot him. Twice. So we can all be sure he doesn't get up.

Parris Glendening comes to Baltimore and says he wants to help them city, and then what does he do? He tells people in Prince George's and Montgomery counties that he wants to respond to them as well. The nerve of this guy.

The governor's horizon, as well as Mr. Olesker's, should extend beyond any one city or county line. Mr. Glendening has been an urban "mayor" and a suburban "mayor" and a rural "mayor."

That describes the job he held for 12 years -- a job to which he was re-elected twice with record majorities. It has been a job with challenges that equate -- in population, problems and opportunities -- to your own back yard, be it Baltimore City, Baltimore County or Harford County.

Take two steps back and ask who's emphasizing regional politics for parochial gain here: Mr. Glendening or Michael Olesker?

I'm satisfied that the calm, steady hand at the helm in the Washington suburbs understands the needs of my city and my city's neighboring jurisdictions far better than the rest.

David Paulson


Looking Back

I would like to reply to Bonita C. Williams of Columbia and her letter "Why Fear the Powerless Black Man?" (Aug. 15).

Well, why not ask Jesse Jackson? He made a statement along the lines as follows: "I never thought the time would come where I was walking down a dark street, then hearing footsteps behind me, and turning around, be relieved that it was a white man."

tephen Anthony


Glorious August

Ah, what joy to see lines of traffic heading for the Bay Bridge or taking the northern route to New England.

That's not for me. This is August -- the time to stay home in Baltimore and enjoy special privileges and relaxation not possible at any other time of the year.

Lines are short at the supermarket checkout counters. The clerks smile and seem almost happy to have a customer. "How ya doin'? How do you like this weather?"

And speaking of that, where can you find better weather in August? The person in line behind me joins in. None of us is in a hurry, and this small-town talk is a novelty in our big city.

And parking is a cinch. I find myself making excuses to shop in the city, just for the old-time pleasure of parking on the main streets.

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