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Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: Virginians as rule-followers?

Editor’s Notebook: Virginians as rule-followers?

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We dig into the Northern Virginia Sun archives for some items today, starting with the news from this coming week back in 1979 that a new survey puts Virginians at the top of the pack when it comes to states where residents follow the 55-mph speed limit.

Well, I can kind of see it. Virginians do tend to be a little more genteel on the pedal than Marylanders, New Yorkers, New Jerseyites or the worst of the worst, Pennsylvanians. (Pennsylvanians, of which I once was, don’t necessarily have a need for speed – they just are rather incompetent drivers. If you see ’em coming, get out of the way, pronto …)

For those too young to remember (guilty!), Wikipedia tells us that the federal government mandate requiring a 55-mph speed limit was part of the 1974 Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, passed during the latter days of the Nixon administration. (Oh, Tricky Dick, this one might have been worse than Watergate).

Of course, the legislation didn’t require states to set a maximum speed limit, it just threatened to cut off federal funding for states that wouldn’t play ball. And shocker of shockers: It ultimately didn’t provide the fuel savings that proponents said it would.


The rule stayed in effect until the mid-1990s, when the feds gave it up. Although who knows what our uncertain future might bring?

Also from various editions of the Sun, around this time in years gone by:

  • The May 5, 1955, edition of the paper said that Arlington Hall was one of six sites being considered for the new CIA headquarters. It would, as time proved, lose out.
  • The May 5, 1959, edition noted that Arlington Hospital was seeking community donations to help fund its $1.5 million expansion. Today the hospital (known as Virginia Hospital Center) is in the midst of a $250 million expansion.
  • The May 6, 1968, edition of the paper reported good news for those who use the telephone – a strike of 200,000 Bell Telephone workers has been settled, after Ma Bell settled the dispute with a $2 billion package of wage/benefit improvements for the workers.

> Scott McCaffrey

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