As coined by Sammy Hagar in 1984, in protest to the national maximum speed law, “I can’t drive 55” became a marching tune to call attention and end the national speed limit of 55 mph in the 80’s.
The lead single from Sammy Hagar’s 8th studio album, lyrics like “What used to take two hours, now takes all day, it took me 16 hours to get to LA.” or “One foot on the brake and one on the gas, well there’s too much traffic i can’t pass” were used to poke fun at the National Maximum Speed Law.
The law, was a provision in the 1974 Emergency Highway energy conservation act which prohibited drivers from going faster than 55 mph. It was enacted and enforced in response to rising crude oil prices and supply disruptions during the 1973 oil crisis. Adversely opposed by most states and most citizens, states fought to make deals and exemptions or de-emphisizing speed limit enforcement.
The NMSL underwent some revisions in 1987 and 88, allowing some far off rural roads to increase their speeds to 65 miles per hour, and in 1995 the law was officially repealed and states were allowed to set their own speed limits.
In 2008 Sammy Hagar recorded a new version of the song for Nascar called “I can’t drive 195” referring to the common nascar speeds of 195 miles per hour. Since the repeal of the law, studies have been conflicted over the actual benefit it provided, as conflicting data both proves and disproves it’s value in helping aid against the 1973 oil crisis.