“I Can’t Drive 55” was the lead single and first track from Sammy Hagar‘s eighth studio album VOA in 1984. Perpetuated by a very successful music video, it became a concert staple that continued throughout Sammy’s tours as a member of Van Halen. The song is a reference to the National Maximum Speed Law in the United States, that originally set speed limits at 55 miles per hour (89 km/h).
It is the 100th song on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs
“I was in a rent-a-car that wouldn’t go much faster than 55 miles an hour. I was on my way back from Africa. I did a safari for three months throughout Africa. A really great vacation after Three Lock Box. I was traveling for 24 hours, I got to New York City, changed planes, Albany, New York. Got in a rent-a-car. Had a place in Lake Placid at the time, a little log cabin, I used to go there and write with my little boy. Aaron, at that time, went to North Country school when I was on tour. I would go there and see him. It was a really cool getaway. But it took two and a half hours to drive there from Albany. And I was driving from Albany, New York at 2:00 in the morning, burnt from all the travel. Cop stopped me for doing 62 on a four lane road when there was no one else in sight. Then the guy gave me a ticket. I was doing 62. And he said, ‘We give tickets around here for over-60.’ and I said, ‘I can’t drive 55.’ I grabbed a paper and a pen, and I swear the guy was writing the ticket and I was writing the lyrics. I got to Lake Placid, I had a guitar set-up there. And I wrote that song there on the spot. Burnt.”—Sammy Hagar, 1994