Skip to content

On November 28, 1995, spurning the veto requests of safety, insurance medical emergency and trauma prevention groups, President Clinton signed into law a highway bill that, by his own Department of Transportation’s statements, will kill and injure tens of thousands of Americans every year. The bill abolishes the national maximum speed limit of 55 mph, except for rural interstates where 65 mph has been permitted, and repeals other safety rules to protect motorists and motorcyclists.

It was an act of unprecedented Presidential hypocrisy and cruelty. Here was Clinton worrying in the past about the costs of medicare and medicaid, the harmful effects of air pollution and our imbalance of payments due largely to rising imports of oil. Then he goes and signs legislation that will increase all these costs and imports and pollution.

He was told by the insurance industry that signing this bill would lead to higher auto insurance costs for motorists and higher worker compensation premiums for business. He still signed the lethal bill.

With all the leadership of a wet noodle, Clinton then had the gall to try to have it both ways. Consider his own statement on signing the bill, secluded from the press, in his office. “I am deeply disturbed by the repeal of both the national maximum speed limit law and the law encouraging states to enact motorcycle helmet use laws, I am also disturbed that this act could potentially exempt large numbers of small-to medium-sized trucks and their drivers from critical safety regulations. Without question, these laws have saved lives,” said Clinton.

So he proceeds to destroy these successful life-savings programs and cause the deaths of over 6400 American lives a year and many thousands of serious injuries.

This is another example of Clinton’s “character problem” and why so many people distrust him. Despite letters and calls by a broad coalition of fighters for the sanctity of human life on the

highways to veto the bill, send it back to the Congress to delete the violent provisions and return the highway construction projects for his signature, Clinton rebuffed them. Even a plea by the National Safety Council and a personal handwritten letter to Clinton by the CEO of Nationwide Insurance Co. were ignored. He refused to let the bill’s opponents, including victims of speeding crashes working to prevent such casualties, be heard.

Instead of giving them time to hear them out, Clinton signed it right away and took off to Europe to express his concern about the safety of the 20,000 American troops he is sending to Bosnia. On Air Force One, did he bother to tally up his Department of Transportation’s predictions — that in three years, 20,000 more Americans would die on the highways because he, joined with the Congressional Republican leadership, had signed this deadly highway bill?

Nine states will raise their speed limits in early December. Twenty six more are considered likely to follow shortly. Montana will go to no speed limit during daytime hours. Others will go to 70 mph and 75 mph which means big trucks, vans, and cars will be whizzing along at the police-tolerant speeds of 80 mph and 85 mph. The 18-wheelers are underbraked as it is, without being allowed to swoop down the highways at such acceleration.

Abolition of the national speed limit has been in the Republican Party Platform since 1980. Democrat Clinton made this homicidal legislation a reality with his bloody pen. Had he used a life-saving pen and the Presidents’ “Bully Pulpit”, no Congress would have dared over-ride his veto.

It was left up to the police to make the obvious comment about the outcome. “If vehicles travel faster, they will be in more crashes and more will die,” said one state trooper. “We’re going to see fatalities go up” says Nevada Highway Patrol Chief Paul Corbin.”

After the national speed limit was established in 1974, the number of Americans who lost their lives on the highway dropped by about 9000 during the following year. That’s more evidence of the highway police’s predictions.

In a few weeks, Clinton will be asked to veto two more bills -­one that the Gingrich/Dole crowd passed to obstruct the court rights of people injured by defective products. The other bill would protect swindlers and crooks in the financial industry from responsibility to compensate those investors, savers and pensionholders whom they defrauded.

If Clinton is willing to go out of his way to sign a bill that will take so many American lives and produce so many permanently disabled people, what do you think are the chances that he’ll lose any sleep over not vetoing these two bills.