Sunday, March 6, 2011

Driving faster to arrive earlier?


This week, a package of 20 measures approved by the Spanish Government is going to come into force as part of an energy saving plan. These measures include a 5% discount on the ticket price for suburban and commuting trains, a reduction in road lighting, and a reduction of the speed limit in highways and motorways from 120 km/h to 110 km/h. The later measure is only valid for 4 months and then, on June 30th, it may be cancelled or approved for a longer period of time. As it usually happens with the so-called restrictive measures (indeed, all measures can be considered restrictive), people are swift to react against it, even if arguments are rather demagogic: some critics argue that posting up new speed signals will cost 250,000 € (but they do not mention that this amount represents only 0.01% of the total 2,300 million euros expected to be saved every year thanks to the reduction in energy imports), other critics argue that temporary measures are useless… But critics’ top argument --that is, the argument mostly read in editorials and think pieces and mostly heard in bar chats-- is that reducing the speed limit to 110 km/h involves wasting time in our trips. Indeed, this is irrefutable: we will drive longer for sure. But let’s take a calculator (as Greenpeace does) to check how much time it really is: if we drive a distance of 80 km at 110 km/h instead of 120 km/h, we will waste three minutes and thirty seconds. For a distance of 100 km, we will waste a little bit less than 5 minutes. And even for longer distances, there is not much time wasted: a 300-km trip would involve only 14 more minutes driving.
On the other hand, as fuel consumption increases exponentially in relation to speed, driving at 110 km/h involves a reduction of up to 2 litres of fuel for every 100 km. Less money, less fuel and less pollution.
Finally, another argument posed by critics is that this measure it typically Spanish, in the pejorative sense of the term. My reply is to remind you of other “typically-Spanish” countries with a speed limit of 110 km/h: Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom…

Sources:

  1. Speed limit to 110 km/h: http://www.typicallyspanish.com/news/publish/article_29378.shtml
  2. Arguments against this law: http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2011/02/25/espana/1298657509.html
  3. Greenpeace calculations: http://www.greenpeace.org/espana/es/Blog/110-o-120-kmh-en-las-autopistas/blog/33488?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social_network&utm_term=km&utm_content=transporte&utm_campaign=cambio+climatico
  4. Paper about energy saving: http://ecomovilidad.net/barcelona/es/castellano-consideraciones-sobre-la-limitacion-de-110-kmh 
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15 comments:

  1. Sadly, not a lot of people are considerate enough to worry about pollution while driving. Human beings are creatures with a great sense of urgency, and that is reflected in fast driving.

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  2. Increasing sales of hybrid cars say otherwise, Amarant. As new and cheaper technologies come along, I'm sure people will start supporting environment-friendly vehicles.

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  4. I agree, Donant. It's all about awareness, especially when it comes to relatively new technology such as hybrid cars. We'll probably see strong awareness efforts by the government to achieve Obama's goal of reducing fuel consumption by 50%.

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