Man To Walk Across Oregon For 55 MPH Speed Limit Awareness

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
man to walk across oregon for 55 mph speed limit awareness

The national 55 MPH speed limit may have been repealed in 1995, but the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has refused to raise the limits on most freeways beyond 65.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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  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on May 14, 2010

    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.

    • JeremyR JeremyR on May 16, 2010

      Incidentally, why are there Interstate highways in Hawaii?!

  • Lprocter1982 Lprocter1982 on May 14, 2010

    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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