It was on this day in 1974, President Nixon signed a law that set the national speed limit at 55 miles an hour.  Before that it was always up to the states to set speed limits, but with oil prices on the rise after the war between Israel and Arab countries in 1973-74, the U-S began a policy of fuel conservation and rationing including a lower speed limit to force drivers to save on gas.

A lot of western states with long, straight, monotonous Interstates weren’t happy with it, but the new law prevented funding any road projects in states that didn’t go along.  They had no choice but to go along with it.

Congress repealed the law in 1995 and since then 34 states have upped speed limits to 70 miles an hour or higher on some highways.  The highest speed limit in the U-S is a Texas toll road between San Antonio and Austin.  A section of Highway 130 has a speed limit of 85 miles an hour.  A number of other routes in Texas have 80 mile an hour speed limits. Idaho is the only other state with posted speed limits of 80.

You’ll find the highest posted speed limits in the world in sections of Poland and Italy – the equivalent of 90 miles an hour.

Sections of the Autobahn in Germany have no posted speed limit.  Some drivers routinely drive 150 miles an hour or higher on the Autobahn.