It seems like a backward step. To give up the 120, suggests Colm O'Regan.
The 120 was hard won for people older than a certain age. Those who remember the midland towns we spent hours in on Friday evenings and Sunday nights. We prayed we might get to the town before they ‘got bad’.
All of Sunday spent wondering how much weekend to have. “Will we go now at 9am or leave it till midnight”. We wear the stripes like veterans. We pass each other in the street. Those who know, know.
The brave soldiers who battled Monasterevin, Kildare Town, Enfield, Kinnegad, Fermoy the elders who remember Naas. The mysterious unexplained slowdowns that becalmed thousands. It might have been because one person tapped the brakes four miles up ahead and it had propagated back to a tailback in which people are getting out the slow-cookers and making dinner.
Then we got our freedom.
The freedom to do 120km/h. To voluntarily take it away would seem a wilful waste. And then I read a thing. It wasn’t even the original thing. It was someone saying that they heard that if you drive at 100 instead of 120 you save more fuel than you’d think. (Because wind drag increases a lot even for small increases in speed) . And that you would do your bit for climate change by doing very little.
Obviously it’s not ‘your bit’ for climate change. ‘Your bit‘ would be to reject Satan and all his works and empty promises, sell all your worldly goods and go and live in a hedge eating only seasonal grubs. So not your full bit. But a bit of your bit.
I gave it a go. I was driving from Dublin to Ennis and the fuel gauge said I’d need diesel about 30k from the finish. And when we all giddily escaped the tendrils of Dublin and the supersmooth 80km road-widening and the lunatics with the Audis and the italicised numberplated Yarises (or Yarii) roared up past the 120, I stayed at 100. For two hours, I tootled along at 100. The only times I sped up was during the terrifying white knuckle-ride that is passing a truck in the rain in the dark where you are convinced you’re going to be crushed Fast and Furious-style against the barrier.
But other than that I ambled. And … I gotta tell you: It was nice. It wasn’t as loud. I had to overtake less people. It was just easier. I still had to drive. Driving at 100 doesn’t leave you with more time to work on your etchings but it’s less drivey.
The satnav on my phone didn’t smell a rat at first. The sat nav sort of assumes you’ll do the 120 on the motorway because the sat nav is up to its ears with your stories of Gorey but eventually the sat nav raised an eyebrow. And added a minute here and there to the arrival time.
And the fuel just lasted forever by comparison to the 120. Instead of having to stop for a fill, I had 30k worth of diesel left over. SO I saved time on the way down.
Also, I passed one of those OH SORRY IT’S ACTUALLY SUDDENLY 100 NOW. WERE YOU USED TO DOING 120? OH HOW TERRIBLE speed vans. You know the shnakey ones that are PURE fish-in-a-barrel marksmen that wait for you close to the border between speed regions. And I was fine as I was doing 100.
Is it an age thing? Would I have slowed down anyway without the influence of Big Earth. Maybe. I’m sort of nostalgic for the way my father drove. Solid 50 miles per hour everywhere. One hand at 5.25 on the wheel, the other sort of hooked onto his jumper or the gearstick. As if 10 to 2 was too formal on the steering wheel of the car who knew him so well. I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up, or rather keep it down. But for the time being at least, I’m less fast, less furious.