In the annals of "things that would never happen in America," Spain has decided to temporarily knock 10 km/h (8 mph) off speed limits on certain roads in order to decrease the country's energy use. This action has kicked up some opposition, as the BBC reports:
The main opposition Popular Party has labelled the idea as "absurd" and "improvised", recalling that the last time Spain reduced the speed limit in such a way, dictator Gen Franco was in power.
"This measure is restricting the freedom of people who are not harming others," agrees [economist] Ismael Sanz, who believes the best way to reduce a driver's fuel consumption is to put the price up.
Cutting speed limits is actually a good regulatory response to oil shortages, though, and one case where taking government action is more effective than relying on cost-pressures to modify consumer behavior. I doubt that most drivers consider the cost they pay for decreased fuel efficiency at higher speeds. Americans, at least, don't drive less when gas prices go up; how much more per ride would we have to pay before we'd decide to get places less quickly? In general, if drivers are allowed to drive faster, they'll drive faster, using up more gas and later cursing the high prices at the pump.
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