Speed may have more to do with a driver’s testosterone level than a car’s horsepower.
Forty of the 72 men who responded Sunday and Monday morning to The Spokesman-Review’s request for comments said they favor a plan to let states set speed limits as high as they like.
Many said they would raise the speed limit on Interstate 90 to 70 mph or 80 mph - or even higher. Some would do away with the limit altogether.
“The speed limits should be changed to 85 up by Moses Lake, maybe 90 through Ritzville and those boring parts of the state,” said Rich Goggin.
Women were split on the issue, with 13 saying the speed limit should be raised and 14 arguing that high-speed driving is dangerous and wasteful.
“Not every driver is a young, healthy, wonderful male driver,” said Sandy Jackson. “You have to take into consideration…the people who aren’t sharp like racecar drivers.”
“What happened to saving gas?” asked Catherine Lauritsen.
A bill approved by Congress this month would allow states to set speed limits on highways within their boundaries. President Clinton is expected to sign the bill despite lobbying from conservationists and highway-safety advocates who oppose it.
Road engineers in Washington and Idaho are studying the states’ highways to determine which can safely handle higher speeds.
The limit on some stretches of Washington highway undoubtedly will be raised if the federal government gives its approval, said Sid Morrison, Washington secretary of transportation.
Supporters say the bill is a matter of states’ and drivers’ rights.
The federal government should “stop messing with our freedoms and the responsibilities that go with them,” said caller Jim Parker.
Some callers suggested ways to make the faster speeds safer, including a minimum speed to keep pokey drivers off highways.
Tim Franz suggested building high-speed lanes adjacent to existing highways. Drivers would have to pass a competency test and buy special license plates to use the lanes.
“This (road project) would also put American workers to work on American soil once again,” he said.
Several callers admitted violating current speed limits, but said that’s an indication they’re too low.
“I feel much more alert when I’m driving faster than 85,” said Ric Hunt, who boasted “a few tickets for 100-plus in 65 (mph) zones.”
The violators aren’t all young and male.
“You can drive just as carefully at 70 as you can at 65,” said Lois Evanoff, 78. “I drive 70 where it’s safe and people are passing me all the time.”
It doesn’t make sense to raise the limit just because people disobey it, argued Dan Jones. He suggested a national 55-mph speed limit, along with stiffer fines for violators.
Others said it’s unconscionable to raise the limit, which safety advocates warn will cause more deaths.
“Raising the speed limit is also going to raise the business at the mortuaries,” said Glen Kivett, who carefully obeys the speed limit during several trips from Spokane to Port Angeles, Wash., each year.
‘They’re passing me all the way, giving me the finger, some of them.”
“Anyone who raises the speed limit is actually killing somebody,” said Robert May. “They should be held accountable for murder or manslaughter.”