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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about a national speed limit, international justice, and keeping drivers from texting at the wheel.

July 31, 2008



55 mph speed limit: weighing the price of time, gas

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Regarding John Dillin's July 15 Opinion piece, "Patriotic answer to $4 gas: Drive less, and slow down": I'm with the spirit of Mr. Dillin's piece, but I have a couple of objections.

The first is mathematical: If drag forces increase quadratically (and they do), they do not increase exponentially.

The second concerns Dillin's example in which a 1,900 mile trip is $70 cheaper driven at 55 m.p.h. than at 75 m.p.h.: Most people will pay that extra cost to avoid the more than nine additional hours on the road driving at 55 m.p.h.

How about this: Wouldn't you, if faced with a vacation trip at either speed, much prefer a shorter, more relaxing, more energy-efficient high-speed rail trip?

Timothy Hughbanks
College Station, Texas

Enact another national speed limit law

In response to the July 17 article, "Public's thirst for oil prodding Congress to act": Why do we shy away from the most obvious way of relieving this problem: a national 55 m.p.h. speed limit?

In 1974, in response to an Arab oil embargo, a 55 m.p.h. speed limit was imposed on the nation's highways and was in effect for 10 years. This is something Congress could do now that would have the immediate effect of lowering fuel prices.

How much longer would it take to get there at 55 m.p.h.? To travel 20 miles, it would take about 2 minutes longer than at 60 m.p.h. and about 5 minutes longer than at 70 m.p.h..

Considering not only the cost savings, but also the environmental benefits and reduced risk to our automobiles and ourselves, is our time really that important?

Greg Harris
Kirkland, Wash.

Dispute dictators' sovereignty defense

Regarding your July 16 editorial, "Peace before justice in Darfur": The piece defines an enigma called "sovereignty" that has haunted the international community for almost five centuries.

When heads of state thumb their noses at the civilized world by allowing their "sovereign" government – not the sovereign people – to initiate acts of genocide or violent tyranny, the rest of the world honors the traditionally revered sovereignty.

An indictment of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court will be rejected with claims of sovereignty. In the meantime, President al-Bashir's participation in the ongoing genocide in Darfur will continue, as other crimes against humanity go unchallenged in Burma (Myanmar) and Zimbabwe.

It's time to replace absolute sovereignty with an international jurisdiction that can enforce peace and justice and eliminate the proliferation of crimes against humanity.

In the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the will to establish and enforce standards of civility, the international community must modify sovereignty and create an internationally mandated peacekeeping force to enforce universally honored laws through a jurisdiction authorized by the international community.

Otherwise, crimes against humanity will too often prevail over peace and justice.

Fred Duperrault
Mountain View, Calif.

Will texting-while-driving bans work?

Regarding the July 21 article, "The spread of bans on driving while texting": What's the good of a ban? New York City has had a ban for years on drivers using hand-held cellphones, but it's never enforced and people drive one-handed and inattentive while on the phone all the time. As a pedestrian, I find it frightening, but who is paying attention to this except other pedestrians?

David Branner
New York

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