Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reducing Speed Limits to Reduce Energy

In Spain, the government has announced that is lowering the national speed limit, in reaction to oil scarcity caused by upheaval in oil producing countries. The drop in the national speed limit from 120kph to 110kph may not seem like a large decrease, but a large number of cars reducing their fuel usage by a small amount could have a significant impact on the amount of fuel consumed in total.

As oil prices rise, and as we all become more aware of the necessity of limiting road travel, governments globally are looking for new initiatives to save fuel energy. Fuel economy is important to national governments and to individuals, especially people who have a vehicle which costs just to own.

Insuring a classic car, for example, as well as keeping it roadworthy, can be a significant cost.

The Spanish government is planning to support this tactic with fare reductions on public transport, which may increase the amount of people who choose to use busses and trains as an alternative to travelling by car. Public transport is a more energy efficient mode of travelling, as many people can commute under the power of one engine, as opposed to each in their individual automobiles.

It will be interesting to see if more governments choose to reduce national speed limits in order to reduce the amount of oil and oil derivatives which they need to import. There are a number of other fuel-efficiency initiatives that are talked about when people discuss automobiles. Car pooling is one of these. By sharing your private vehicle with other people who need to complete the same journey – usually co-workers who need to make a similar commute to a shared place of employment – you can use a lower net amount of fuel than you would if you all travelled individually. In order to make the system fair, the vehicle used is usually rotated, or the other car pooling partners provide money towards fuel. This can be particularly useful for younger drivers, as it can help to offset the cost of young drivers insurance.

There has been much discussion about what impact the Spanish government’s plan will have; as with everything of this nature, some people are for it and others are against it. We won’t know until a period of time has passed and there us enough data to be of statistical use. But if it is successful, other national governments may consider it as a potential method for easing the problems of oil dependency.
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Little House said...

I'd be curious to see how much oil/gas they save by reducing the speed limit. I also like that they are thinking of reducing the cost of public transportation to encourage its usage. The only problem I can see with reducing the speed limit is that there are always speeders out there that will push that speed limit envelope. If it really is effective, I'm guessing other countries may follow suit.

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