Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't drink and drive, continued

We are back home from vacation. The trip consisted of driving through parts of the following states:

North Carolina
West Virginia
Idaho (where we spent our vacation)
New Mexico

From Texas we took a flight that took us through Philadelphia before returning home.

Our wife and kids remained in Texas, and in three weeks we will fly back and then drive with them back home. This will take us through:

South Carolina

In all, we have driven just under 4,000 miles so far, with roughly 1,400 remaining on the Texas back to North Carolina trip. $4 gas isn't so much fun for such a thing. But now, another problem for such a trip is beginning to ripple around the news. The idea of bringing back the federal 55 mph national speed limit.

American Thinker covers the issue today. One point made in that article goes thusly:

Take for example coastal industries. Turn a three hour drive each way into a four hour plus drive each way to get to the beach, and you'll see far fewer folks doing it for the weekend. Turn a 12 hour drive to the Florida or Carolinas beaches into a 16 hour trek, and the week long vacations won't happen.

We certainly admit that our vacation is extreme, one not one undertaken by very many people. But let's do the quick calculation on the difference between the trip we have made at current speed limits, and the trip if 55 mph again became the federally mandated speed limit.

Our trip from North Carolina to Idaho was nearly all interstate, and we averaged just under 74 mph while the car was in motion (our GPS records such things). The trip from Idaho to Texas was a little less interstate, and we averaged just over 68 mph. To simplify for our purposes here, we will round the overall average to 72 mph. And for our purposes we will assume our trip from Texas back to North Carolina will also average 72 mph.

By the time we make it back home in three weeks, we will have spent 75 hours traveling 5,400 miles.

Now, if the posted speed limit was 55 mph maximum -- and we assume our overall average would be 58 mph -- slightly over the maximum speed limit -- our same vacation would consume 93 hours of drive time.

14 more hours.

Or to put it in terms this blog favors, it would have made a 27,000 bottles-of-beer-on-the-wall drive into a 33,480 bottles-of-beer-on-the-wall drive.

That's nearly 6,500 extra bottles of beer.

Now, as much as we like beer (and we really love beer), one can only take so many down and pass so many around before one is driven from being a fun, family road trip dad to a menacing road rage threat to any and all other vehicles along a 20-state route.

It would be enough to drive a man to drink.

MORE MATH: Adding the states up, we will have visited 40% of these United States by the end of the summer vacation travels.

TO BE CLEAR: We are using the traditional count of states, and not the Obama new math, which would put us at a mere 33%.

*Thanks to Strawman in the comments for pointing out my oversight in forgetting Kentucky.


  1. They told me that if JD did a post on how many states he'd visited in the last two weeks, he'd make fun on Obama. And they were right!

    On the proposal to lower the speed limit to 55, I believe it is appropriate to quote, as nearly as I can from memory, George and Baldrick from Blackadder Goes Forth: "Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid."

  2. That's a lot of voluntary driving. Your kids must be well behaved or thoroughly drugged.
    I was driven coast-to-coast at 7 & 8 (with 2 siblings and screaming cat), and once as a 7 month fetus, when they ran out of gas 5 miles from grandma's. I blame that trip for many of my problems.

    My Dad drove his parents and aunt from NC to San Francisco in 1952. I wish they'd taken more photos. My grandmother read him every road sign, from the back seat.

  3. You missed a state. To get from West Virginia to Indiana you are going to go through Ohio, Kentucky or both. I've made the NC to IN drive many times, being an Indiana native and a now 30 year resident of NC. We made the drive for maybe the last time this April when my wife's mother and father died within three days of each of other. This time we took a different route, going through Dayton, it was shorter than going through KY and Cincinnati.
    Besides this trip, we have cut our driving way back.
    A 55 limit again would be stupid, but I'm guessing that a compromise bill with offshore drilling will include it.

  4. Ralph, the kids are awesome travelers. The DVD player helps too.

    Strawman, you're right! I missed KY. Going to update it when I get a chance.

    And yes we were just what a mile from OH at one point...I almost exited and crossed the border to bag another state. But it wa like 1 am everyone else was asleep.

    Sorry to hear of your loss.

    We're now 3 year residents of NC and absolutely love it

  5. The name of your post makes me smile. The associations are such wonderful memories.

  6. Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. Its sure been a great ride. Mr. Bad gave me a silver classic IPOD. My favorite little "don't drink and drive" will help me master the finer points.

  7. YOU always make me smile, bad.

    Happy Anniversary!!!

  8. The DVD player helps too.
    My older brother always had his face in a book on trips. When he started driving, he didn't know where anything was, and instinctively went the wrong way for years.

    I drove up to DC area twice in June for the first time since Christmas. People are definitely driving slower (I was, too). 55 mph is boring, and few cars are geared for that speed.

  9. I started to blog my trip (6,900 miles and every state northwest of here but Nebraska and Alaska.

    We'll do a 'ska trip on another day.

    But I lost cell/internet access for about a week and never recovered.

    The blog name is family navigations at this site (or my name below).


  10. ... below, above, whatever.

    Somewhere, anyway.

    (Just like we were after they stole our GPS in Seattle.)

  11. Wow, Prof. Pangloss, that's awesome!

    I hope the emergency room in Aspen was minor...and they stole your GPS???


    What a trip!

  12. Yep, it was great!

    I hope to finish the journal before we leave in two weeks for the next journey.

    Glad to 'see' you back safe, though I'm sure it's a bummer to be without the rest of the family for a few weeks.