America Lives At 70 Miles Per Hour

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
america lives at 70 miles per hour

Based on anonymous driving habit data from customers in 45 states, GPS navigation firm TomTom reckons that Americans tend to drive at about 70 MPH on the freeway, regardless of the posted speed limit. More specifically, most Americans tend to stay within a few miles per hour of the speed limit on interstate freeways. The WSJ [sub] reports that these findings are consistent with efforts to raise freeway speed limits around the country, as Virginia recently became the latest state to raise its freeway speed limit to 70 MPH or above. Naturally, there are still safety advocates still sticking to their “speed kills” talking points, but despite these state-by-state speed limit increases, America’s road fatalities per vehicle mile traveled has been dropping consistently. That Americans rarely drive over 70 MPH, even when limits are as high as 75 MPH, shows that motorists tend to find their natural comfort limit at that speed anyway. And the fact that states with higher freeway speeds tend to be large, sparsely-populated Western states indicates that motorists tend to vary their speed only slightly from the 70 MPH “state of nature” even when faced with longer distances and less traffic. [Hat Tip: ClutchCarGo]

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  • Dhanson865 Dhanson865 on Mar 17, 2010

    As someone who used to drive from TN to IA and back I can say that ILLINOIS(IL) is "slower" on that map for one reason and one reason only. IL state troopers and IL police give more tickets and set better traps for radar/laser detectors than the other states I drove through. Thats: TN KY IN IL IA then the otherway. I'll always drive slower in IL than in any other midwestern state just because of the propensity of ticket issuance in that state. Every state has it's one or more spots where enforcement was higher but of all the states I've driven in IL stands out as consistently above average in issuing tickets.

    • Joel Joel on Mar 17, 2010

      I briefly knew a guy that lived in southern Illinois, and he said that the cops on the interstate have a hair trigger to pull people over because that was the central drug trafficking route up to Chicago. So, anyone that had any car that looked like it had weight in any form would get extra scrutiny.

  • Mcs Mcs on Mar 17, 2010

    INRIX traffic might provide better data. It's the service used by IPhones and Android based phones. A much larger sample. However, I only pull it up when I think I'm going to be dealing with bad traffic. Otherwise, I use a different app for navigation. If others use it the same way, it could skew the data.

  • Ttacgreg Ttacgreg on Mar 17, 2010

    My visits to Germany have proven that my comfort speed is 100 mph. Fast enough to reward my hyper attentive driving style, slow enough to stay relaxed. Here in Colorado If I go 85 I am pretty much passing everybody, save for the occasional "sticky " driver who does not want to pick their own speed, but would rather shadow me.

  • ChevyIIfan ChevyIIfan on Mar 17, 2010

    I don't tend to drive more than about 68-69, regardless of speed limit, as I find above 70 my fuel economy drops about 2 mpg for every 2 mph over I go. I just cruise about 68-69, regardless if the speed limit is 55, 60, 65, or 70, I am going 68-69.

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