Driving slower to conserve fuel and help the environment may be just too much to ask.
Many Americans would quickly say they are concerned about the environment and the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
But what are they willing to do about it? Drive less? Drive a little slower?
Well, maybe not.
A proposal under discussion by the Kansas Energy Council to lower the state's top speed limit by just 5 mph brought an instant negative reaction from a western Kansas legislator. Her constituents often must travel long distances, she said, and would vigorously oppose such a measure.
Actually, many drivers in more densely populated areas of the state probably would have a similar reaction. We just don't want to take a few more minutes to get where we're going.
Driving slower increases gasoline mileage, which is a small step toward decreasing the demand for foreign oil. A national group that advocates a 55 mph speed limit said such a limit would immediately reduce vehicle emissions by at least 10 percent, which would benefit the environment.
Still, it's likely that a couple of recent letters to the Journal-World's Public Forum urging more drivers to slow down and enjoy the scenery probably aren't causing a groundswell of support.
In fact, it's hard to see what it will take for Americans to get serious about gasoline consumption. People noticed when gasoline prices recently topped $4 a gallon, but it's not enough to make most of them drive less or drive slower. As the price creeps down, so does our concern.
Discussion of lower speed limits, of course, stirs memories of the 1970s when Congress enacted a 55 mph speed limit and gasoline stations reduced their hours to try to help the nation cope with a gasoline shortage. States had to adhere to the limit or risk losing federal highway funds, but enforcement of the limit was, shall we say, inconsistent from state to state.
Time is money, and Americans like to get where they're going as quickly as possible. First, they tell us not to talk on the phone while we're driving. Then they want us to drive slower so we're in our cars and off the phone even longer. What's the world coming to?
It's interesting to contemplate the rationing and lack of gasoline and other consumer goods that Americans accepted during World War II. Clearly, whatever crisis the nation now faces doesn't inspire anything close to that same kind of sacrifice.