by Michelle Kim
July 2, 1987
Dr. Leon James, Instructor
Social Psychology 250




"The Congress enacted a National speed limit of 55 miles per hour following an oil embargo imposed in 1973 by some Arab nations" (Anonymous. 1986:289). This enactment has led to the permanent standing of 55 miles per hour on freeways today. "According to the Department of Transportation monitoring data, 75.4 percent exceed the 55 mph limit on rural Interstates" (Anonymous, 1986:289).

In this report I would like to share with you some important information which I found was helpful to me in understanding the morality of complying to the speed limit and staying calm while driving.


To begin my term paper I had to do some library research so that I could understand the elements involved in driving the speed limit. I first went to the Hamilton Library on Monday, June 1, 1987 at approximately 8:30 a.m. and left there around 11:15 a.m. Within the 2 hours and 45 minutes I first looked into the Library of Congress Subject Headings (ICSH) and searched for words pertaining to speed limit. I came up with headings such as "Radar in Speed limit Enforcement, automobiles-Speed, Traffic Regulations and Traffic Safety." I then went to OPAC and started to use the Browse Subject listing. But found only a couple of headings, which weren't too good. I then realized that these were only books and figured that there weren't very many books on this subject. I then went to the Reference room and got onto the machine with the large screen and it displayed article titles in Magazines. I looked under Traffic Regulations and it displayed other subject headings that I could also see. Such as "Speed Limits, etc." Looking through all the headings I came out with a long list of different Magazines to look for. I then looked in the book that tells of all the magazines in Hamilton. I found the call numbers and went to the third floor to begin searching. I had a hard time finding these numbers because Hamilton is so big and spread out. I continued searching on the second floor. I found a couple of articles and Xeroxed them before I left hoping there was a lot of information in them. I could only skim through them in the library

On Wednesday, June 3, 1987 I went to the Sinclair library to see if they had different magazines. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. and left around 10:00 a.m. I was surprised to find out how much easier it was to find magazines in Sinclair than in Hamilton. The magazines were in alphabetical order so I just had to go by title. I found about four articles that looked well informed and I Xeroxed them. I then looked into the Hawaii Pamphlet Section, where they keep the newspaper articles according to subjects. But I found nothing pertinent to the speed limits. I then decided to leave.

I went over the articles and highlighted the parts that I felt may be of good use to my paper. This was on Saturday, June 6,1987. I began my baseline on Sunday June 7,1987 till Tuesday June 9, 1987. My intervention period was on Wednesday June 10, 1987 till Friday June 12, 1987.


The information I found in the articles were mostly on changing the speed limit, either raising it or keeping it at 55. But from these articles I received valuable information and statistics that shocked me and helped me develop my mind for the Intervention.

"The 55 mph limit, which came into effect in 1974 was originally designed as a fuel conservation measure. There was a noticeable drop in both highway travel and fatalities during the gasoline shortage, and the speed limit was given credit for the reduction in fatalities. Safety replaced fuel conservation as the main feature of speed limit policy and Congress made the 55 mph speed limit permanent" (Anonymous, 1986:289). Now as the times are changing and fuel prices are more stable people want to raise the speed limit, despite the positives that the 55 mph has given us. Such as "a law that saves 2000-4000 lives a year" (Anonymous, 1986:28) and "federal officials claim that slower speeds have helped cause a 60-70 percent decline in paralyzing spinal cord injuries over the past decade. The annual number of automobile accidents that produce severe head injuries has dropped by 90,000" (Anonymous, 1984.11).

Another thing that really shocked me was the argument of the time difference as a major factor. It's been proven that only 7 hours a year would be given up by each person for driving 55 instead of 65 mph.


I have decided to do my baseline intervention on the amount of times a day I go over the speed limit. The amount of speed that I go over is not pertinent to this intervention because I want to be able to drive at exactly the speed limit. The graph that follows is the amount of times I exceed the speed limit daily.

I will be transcribing parts of my tape because of some things that I wish for you not to hear. I left the recorder on through- out the drive so I wouldn't be disturbed to pause and unpause the tape. I also would like for you to know exactly when and where I droves

1:00 p.m. to my boyfriends house in Waipahu, 5 miles
4:00 p.m. to my house, 5 miles

MONDAY: 6:15 a.m. to my boyfriends house, 5 miles
6:45 a.m. to Queen Emma Bldg. Downtown, 15 miles
3:00 p.m. to my house, 5 miles

TUESDAY: 6:30 a.m. to my boyfriends house, 5 miles
3:30 p.m. to my house, 5 miles
5:00 p.m. to Ala Moana, 15 miles 9:00 p.m. to my house, 15 miles


SUNDAY: 1:00 p.m.

MONDAY: 6:15 a.m.

MONDAY: 3:00 p.m.

TUESDAY: 6:30 a.m.


My intervention was that if I went over the speed limit more than 5 times a day, I would have to clean one of three rooms in my house. These three rooms were the messiest rooms, my bedroom the patio and the bathroom. Since my intervention was three days I picked only three rooms and made a deal with my mom. This is exactly where I drove on the 3 days:

7:00 a.m. to U-H, 15 miles
1:00 p.m. to Ala Moana Beach, 5 miles
6:00 p.m. to my house, 5 miles

11:30 a.m. to my boyfriends house, 5 miles
3:00 p.m. to my house, 5 miles

6:15 a.m. to my boyfriends house, 5 miles
6:45 a.m. to Down town, 15 miles
3:00 p.m. to my house, 5 miles


WEDNESDAY: 7:00 a.m.




After going over my paper I realize how easy it was to write 20 pages. At first I thought I would never be able to write that much but after doing this I realize that it is not that much. The part that took me the longest and was the most aggravating was the typing. I can't type fast and I make a lot of mistakes. I also believe that if I had a computer I would have had a much easier time. Maybe I'll look into it.

The amount of time I spent at the library could have been more. would have understood the project more if I had more information. I should have started earlier. Perhaps there wasn't enough time. Taking this class during a semester would have been easier. I think this was too big a project for the summer.

But anyway I'm glad I'm done and everything's over. Good luck to the rest of you!


Anonymous (1986). National 55 MPH Speed Limit. Congressional Digest, December 1986;289.

Anonymous (1984). 55-mph Speed Limit Passes a Milestone. U.S. News & World Report, January 23, 1986:11.

Anonymous (1986). Time to raise 55-mph speed limit?. U.S. News & World Report, May 19, 1986:28.

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