I Can't Drive 55

Album: VOA (1984)
Charted: 26
Play Video


  • This could be considered Hagar's foray into social awareness. While some rock stars were concerned about the environment or civil rights, Hagar was upset with the lowering of highway speed limits. He had a lot of support for his cause.
  • The song references the since-repealed National Maximum Speed Law that set speed limits at 55 miles per hour (89 km/h) in the US. Hagar wrote "I Can't Drive" in protest after getting a speeding ticket in New York State for driving 62 miles per hour on a road with a 55 miles-per-hour speed limit.

    Speaking to Fox5 KVVU-TV in February 2022, Hagar said the song's meaning had changed over the years. "Originally it was a protest song about that I didn't wanna go - when they lowered the speed limit," he explained. "And now it's a protest song that I can't get where I'm going; I'm always late."
  • "I Can't Drive 55" is Sammy Hagar's biggest hit as a solo artist, consistently played on Classic Rock radio. He joined Van Halen a year after it was released.
  • The name of the album, VOA, stands for Voice of America.
  • In 2001, Hagar finally the song to reflect new speed limits on American highways. He re-recorded it as "I Can't Drive 65" for the NASCAR album Full Throttle.
  • One-time vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was pulled over in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, on July 23, 2014, for speeding. She was reportedly going 63 mph in a 45 mph zone in her Toyota Tundra. "I Can't Drive 55" was playing on her radio at the time, which may have contributed to her fast driving.

    Hagar responded to the news by tweeting at her: "Dear @SarahPalinUSA heard you were #GoingRogue on the gas pedal! I'll cover your ticket if you promise to do better next time? #IcantDrive55?
  • This song is heard in the 1989 film Back To The Future II, starring Michael J. Fox. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ricky - Los Angeles, CA

Comments: 30

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaHave recently come across this song in connection to Smokey and The Bandit. Who played drums on the song? thanks.
  • William from Reno, NvI got to see him (and heard him play this) of all places GUAM!!!!!! It was right after he left Van Halen in late 1997 and he played everything including Montrose. They played the main hotel drag where the would bring in Millions of dollars worth of Japanese tourism.

    It was in the middle of the day with nothing but the stage, people and tall concrete buildings. It was a typical fall 97 degree with only a slight breeze. Sammy came out all hot and fuzzy and ready to rock. Three songs into the show he looked like a drowned rat!

    He said, "Damn it's *****n HOT out here"! And boy as he right? He put on a magnificent show. He didn't get much love from the local officials and media (even the rock station because it was under a radio network umbrella) . Ted Nugent was supposed to stop on the island on his way back to the states from Australia. Sammy called him and told him not to do it. Sadly.

    Instant classic. Like REO SPEEDWAGON "Ridin' the Storm Out". It's been on Classic Rock radio ever since it was released!

    K/H D
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 18th 1898, French driver Gaston de Chasseluop-Laubar driving an electric Jeantaud set the world's land speed record at 39 miles per hour...
    And eighty six years later in 1984 Sammy Hagar declared: "I can't drive 55"!!!
    {See next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyHere's some obscure trivia:
    On May 20th 1899, Jacob German was driving in New York City; the posted speed limit was 10 MPH, he was tooling along at 12 MPH and thus became the first motorist in the U.S. to be arresting for speeding...
    And eighty-five years later on September 23rd, 1984 Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive Fifty-Five" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #77; eight weeks later on November 18th, 1984 it would peak at #26 for one week...
    The next time Sammy would appear on the Top 100 was on March 9th, 1986 as lead singer of Van Halen; on that date "Why Can't This Be Love" entered the chart at #52, eventually it would peak at #3 for one week...
    'The Red Rocker' will celebrate his 68th birthday in five months on October 13th {2015}.
  • Roderick T. Long from Auburn, AlabamaSounds more like "for 125" to me. So, more likely to be the speed he was driving.
  • Dale from Victoria, Tx@jim and Steve, Mesa, AZ
    The lyric is actually "Write me up a 125" 125 refers to the cost of the ticket he is given.
  • Jason from Aurora, CoDriving 55 these days is like crawling.
  • Laura from El Paso, TxAhhhhh the song that made me a Sammy Hagar fan! As Jim says just below, the 55 gallon speed limit was enacted as a conservation measure in the 70's, but there also was a very real fuel shortage that caused long lines and panic among Americans during that time. I was a pre-teen but I remember it well.
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaEven though 55 seems too slow, I see this song as an anthem to American haste & waste. The song fails to mention that U.S. oil production peaked around 1970 and the 55 MPH limit was enacted to conserve fuel per the laws of physics (and protect us from Arab whims). But conservation slacked for decades as foreign oil eventually filled the gap. Now, with WORLD oil production apparently peaking (flat since 2005) prices alone should make people consider some degree of "hypermiling," i.e. slowing down. Hagar ought to append this with a new song about Peak Oil. Speeding shouldn't be glorified in a world of declining EROEI.
  • Dennis from Stuart, FlIt was mistakenly posted that this song was his biggest hit. Actually, that honor goes to "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy", which is his only solo song to reach the Top 20.
  • Steve from Mesa, AzJim...the lyrics are:

    Go on & write me up for 125
    Post my face, wanted dead or alive
    Take my license n' all that jive
    I can't drive 55!"

    Write me up for 125 means to write him up for 125 MPH.
  • Jim from Fukville, NhCan someone please tell me what a 125 is? I'm thinking the answer is probably obvious but i have lived in NH my whole life. So i am a bit sheltered. This song's geolocation is on a different coast. I don't know the lingo out there. Love this tune, i feel Sammy's plight with the slow-ass highway speed limits. (and i like his tequila :-)Thanks in advance to anyone who can tell me what "gonna write me up a 125" means...

  • Steve from Mesa, AzDavid from Leesburg...the song states he can't get out of second gear.
  • Matt from Santa Cruz, CaThis is one of those songs that just makes me drive fast (hot for teacher being another). I saw Sammy's 512BB Ferrari at Cabo Wabo in Tahoe, he really drove the hell out of that thing, and good for him!
  • Craig from Manitowoc, WiSammy should rewrite the song saying "I Can't Drive 65!"
  • Nathan from Marion, Iathis is one of the catchiest and cool classics i have ever heard, great song
  • James from Beloit, Withis is also on his red album
  • Keith from Ankeny, IaClaudio the mechanic at the beginning of the video is to be credited for helping Sammy and Eddie meet. He worked on both of their cars and knew that VH had just dumped DLR. Take your rightful place in the annals of rock history Claudio. Many thanks!
  • Tim from Colton,ca, Cai heard on the radio that sammy wrote this song because of his HIGH insurance rates because of all his speeding tickets,something like $5,000 a month he paid
  • David from Leesburg, VaIn the video, Sammy is driving a Ferrari 512BB on a race track. First gear to red line on that car is about 60mph! That is why he can't get out of first gear.
  • Pat from South Riding , VaThis song was written by Sammy when he was driving from Albany, NY to Lake Placid, NY to visit his son, who was going to private school there. Sammy owned a house there.
  • Ricky from Los Angeles, CaI think my mother needs to listen to this song. She hates driving faster than 60 MPH. One of these days, I'm going to play this song for her so she'll stop driving like a granny.
  • Ricky from Los Angeles, CaThe first time I heard this song, I was watching Back to the Future Part II. It's one of the best rock songs ever written.
  • Brian from Albany, NyHere is another rumor to add to the list. I heard Sammy Hagar wrote this song after being pulled over by a state police officer on his way to a concert. The speed limit, you guessed it kiddies, 55!
  • Todd from Denver, CoI like Sammy, as well as DLR and their respective solo work and Van Halen contributions. But let's face it, this song is about rebellion and arrested adolecence (wasn't Sammy in his late 20's/early 30's when he recorded this song?). It appealed to teenaged boys, like me at the time, as I'm sure it was supposed to. Yes, the video is funny now, but considering the MTV content at the time it's no worse than the rest. He seems to continue to live the same lifestyle twenty-some years later, but don't forget his business ventures: clothing lines, bar franchises, etc. Like Maria from Atlanta said, it's a great road trip song.
  • Randy from Fords, NjI have to say, the video to this one is so ridiculous, looking at it now, I laughed so hard that my /eyes/ were watery. Priceless, just priceless. I don't know if Hagar intended it that way or not, but I don't see how he couldn't have.
  • Chris from Marana, AzThis is a song you could call complete and total genius. And at first you'd roll your eyes. And then you'd think about it. And then you wouldn't know if I was kidding or not. Disposable as this song appears to be on the surface...who has not been there?
  • Andrew from Kemp, TxI heard that the reason he first wrote this song, was because when he travelled he liked driving himself, and most of the car's that he rented wouldn't go the speed limit of 55 or faster. That's what I heard anyway. Don't know if it is true or not. Thank God for faster cars now.
  • Tim from Covington , GaThis song created a protest by the law enforcement community when the video was
    first played on MTV. They demanded equal time... MTV agreed-- for a while-- allowing public service style commericals to be played
    condeming the evil act of speeding. Those
    were short lived as opposed to the Hagar
    video which continued to be requested and played.
  • Maria from Atlanta, GaI have to say that this song will always be great for those hot summer days n the road.
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