By on May 14, 2010

The national 55 MPH speed limit may have been repealed in 1995, but the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has refused to raise the limits on most freeways beyond 65. That makes Oregon the slowest state west of the Mississippi. Ted Carlin, 61, wants to call attention to this situation by making a 456-mile walk across the state — at a 3 MPH walking pace.

Carlin determined that ODOT policy made the roads more dangerous after he received a speeding ticket last year. He started setting his cruise control at 55 and noticed that far from making his trip safer, it disrupted the flow of traffic around him.

“I would soon have four to five cars stacked up behind me,” Carlin wrote on his blog chronicling his journey. “The cars would then attempt to pass in dangerous areas becoming much more of a hazard than a fast-moving automobile.”

Carlin kicked off his walk by starting with his feet in the Pacific Ocean in Newport on May 3. He plans to make his final stop in Ontario, the eastern edge of the state, by June 11. Carlin has been joined by supporters and friends, encouraging him along the way. Carlin’s wife drives a Chevy Impala, dubbed the “Sag Wagon,” carrying supplies and displaying a large “Say No to 55 MPH” message across the back.

“World wide I have seen drivers blink their lights at oncoming cars when they have seen a policeman up ahead monitoring speed limits,” Carlin wrote. “We elect officials to make laws to keep us safe and then we in turn circumvent the law to warn motorists we don’t even know to prevent these laws from being enforced.”

According to a 2004 ODOT survey, the 85th percentile speed on rural interstate highways is 71.1 MPH statewide. The bordering states of California and Washington post 70 MPH limits in comparable areas while Idaho posts 75 MPH. The majority of public comments submitted to ODOT urged increasing the limit to 70, but an ODOT panel unanimously decided to keep the lowered limits based on “the safety and environmental benefits.” Instead, the panel recommended increasing Oregon State Police speed patrols with orders to “reduce the current 10-15 MPH tolerance for speeding.” Prior to 1974, Oregon’s maximum speed limit was 75 MPH.


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10 Comments on “Man To Walk Across Oregon For 55 MPH Speed Limit Awareness...”

  • avatar

    Is he going to do it all the way while in the left lane?

  • avatar

    It appears in the article itself that he is against the 55 mph speed limit, this article makes it a little confusing. At first I thought he was for the return of 55 mph speed limits.

    And anyway, I find people warning total strangers about speed traps a heartwarming example of altruism.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I was a little lost myself on what exactly he was for/against. I’m not sure his long walk will accomplish his goals, but it may make him a little skinnier.

  • avatar

    Speaking of somebody who transits Oregon often, I’ve noted that the denizens of that state drive a tad faster on their Interstates than we do in Washington. In the eastern part of the state, where two-lane highways and long empty stretches are the rule it is absurd that most of them have a 55 MPH limit.

    That said, Idaho’s 50 MPH limit on US 12, one of the best driving roads in the USA, ticks me of to no end.

  • avatar

    Good on him, the freeways in Oregon could use a slightly high speed limit, east of the Dalles something on the order of 90. Nothing worse than crawling along the straight as a ruler stretch from Eugene to Salem at 65mph, rigorously enforced. Always pleasant to go from Or to Id and bump your speed from 70 to 85. Aahh. Of course, going through Portland with the high quality drivers of Oregon, the speed limit should be somewhere around 15mph. (For the hooners out there, some of the roads OFF of 101 by the coast are absolutely fav, no cops either, hunh.)

    • 0 avatar
      H Man

      Funny enough, I disagree about the Eugene-Salem-Portland speed limits. Most, if not all of 1-5, moves along fine to me, and is prone to heavy traffic. (South of Eugene to California is quite hilly and twisty, but I woulnd’t mind a lift to 70 or 75.) If I had to choose, it would be lifting the absolutely infantile 55 mph limits the protester is, well, protesting. It is absurd to cross an imaginary line from California or Idaho or Washington driving 80 in a 75 and suddenly be a felon in a 55.

      Fortunately, the universe-wide budget cuts have hit the rural patrols hard. And most of eastern Oregon (containing the egregious limits) is wide open plains, so spotting patrols is quite easy. And rare.

  • avatar

    I’m very mixed on speed limits @ 55mph.

    Sometimes I love them and sometimes I hate them.

    When I’m driving my sport bike or sports car and I’m late to work they annoy me to no end. On the other hand, I’d really love to get a little cruiser bike like a 250cc rebel which can “technically” be used on the highway but really is topped out at 60-70 mph. Being topped out at a speed that is 10+mph less than what most people are travelling is REALLY dangerous. For this same reason, I doubt I’ll ever buy a 3500+ pound sub 120hp car.

    The normal speed here (north chicago suburbs up near wisconsin going into chicago) is probably about 75 with an “official” speed of 55. NOBODY goes 55 and almost NOBODY gets pulled over for it. There really aren’t even that many cameras around on the interstate either. The cynic inside of me says they refuse to raise it so that you can be pulled over arbitrarily…

    Don’t even get me started on the sweeper curve near my friends subdivision that has a posted speed limit of 5mph…..I see large SUV’s take it fairly easily (no drama) at 25-30….

  • avatar

    Hawaii is the slowest state. Period. End of story. We’ve got one –count ’em, one– stretch of road with a 65-mph speed limit. And I don’t think it lasts for more than two or three miles. Everything else is slower than that.

  • avatar

    As a truck driver, I find the slow speed limits slightly annoying, not for me (because in Ontario, all commercial trucks are limited to 105km/h… a ridiculously insane law, but that’s another story) but because of all the ass-hats that drive right on the limit, despite the fact pretty well everyone knows there’s a 20-30km/h ‘grace’ speed. But, oh well, there will always be retarded drivers.

    By the way, I never flash my lights when there’s a cop nearby (except to other truckers.) I figure, if the cop pulls over some stupid four-wheeler driver, he won’t be able to catch me or a fellow trucker speeding.

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