Michigan Senator Considers Law To Raise Speed Limits

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  If you are one of the drivers that think the posted speed limit is ‘just a suggestion’ you may soon be in luck.

Sen. Rick Jones, (R) Grand Ledge, is working to change speed limits across the state based on how fast the majority of drivers are going.

Currently, the maximum speed limit allowed by state law is 70 miles an hour.  Other states like Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, Texas, Utah and others have speed limits as high as 75 or 80 mph.

There is a science behind most of the speed limit signs according to Michigan State Police.  Both MSP and the Michigan Department of Transportation use it to determine how fast you should be driving.

“M-DOT will work with MSP and do speed studies and after they get a good sampling, they will take the 85th percentile.  So if 85% of the drivers or higher are going a certain speed they will go with that speed if the road has engineering and line of sight that can call for that speed,” said John Richard a spokesperson for M-DOT.

In other words Richard said going with the flow works.  In Michigan it only works up to a point.  Senator Rick Jones says the state should not have a maximum limit of 70 miles an hour.

“The state police advised me that many of our highways can probably go to 75 and maybe a few to 80,” said Senator Jones.

Richard said safety can be determined by the behavior of a majority of drivers.

“If someone is going 40 and someone is going 55 that really creates a dangerous situation so if we get everyone going the same amount of speed, it creates a much safer driving environment,” he said.

Based on this theory it doesn’t matter what the speed limit is, as long as everyone goes the same speed.  The drivers we spoke with say they’ve noticed a need for change.

“Whenever someone actually sticks to the speed limit it’s almost like an obstacle,” said Stephen Landlann.

Landlann just moved to Grand Rapids from Germany.  He said he feels safer on American roads versus some European roads without limits.  He said Americans driving style is consistent and fast.

“I passed so many states and no matter what the speed limit was, it was 65, 75, or 70, it was constant.  Everyone was driving above 10 miles an hour,” he said.

State Police tell us the current maximum speed limit of 70 miles an hour was not picked based on science and therefore is not the safest speed for highways based on the 85th percentile method.

M-DOT said if the speed limits were to change it would first require speed studies to be conducted and then replacing the current signs with new speed limit signs.  Richard estimates that could costs millions of dollars to complete.

Senator Jones said he plans to finish the bill this fall.

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      • secondslater

        okay dude have you ever heard of sarcasm or are you just too slow? get with it. are you ready for this one? how about you insure me and my rusty truck and also my other drunk self? are you with me still? good! now how fast am i allowed to go? well if im drunk i might as well be goin faster. get it yet?

  • me

    Drive faster, worse gas mileage, fill up more, pay more in gas taxes. Isnt this what Snyder wanted, to make us pay higher taxes to fix the roads? I say lower it to 55. Why are we in such a hurry anyway? I can not wait to share the road with smartphone users who are traveling faster.

    • secondslater

      i agree me why doesn't anyone care about fuel mileage dropping like a rock when you drive at these rpm's? its like they think we are driving exotic cars where the fuel economy is a little more suited at a faster pace while most people drive big slow suv's. why are people in a hurry anyway? i guess if my life was crappy enough i could see myself speeding and being in a hurry to die too :)

    • Amnfs

      Q. Don't lower speed limits save gas?

      A. No, research has shown that the 55-mph National Maximum Speed Limit, which was enacted specifically to save gas, had practically no impact on fuel consumption. This is partly because people do not obey artificially lower speed limits. It is also because the differences in travel speeds that result from unreasonable limits waste gas. Most fuel is used to accelerate to a given speed. Speed limits based on actual travel speeds promote better traffic flow, which reduces the amount of braking and accelerating on our roads. This has a positive effect on fuel consumption.

  • Rick

    I am all for raising the speed limit But something has to be done about Semi Trucks driving side by side at below 60 mph for 5 to ten miles at a time I see this on a daily basis on I94 between Benton Harbor and Decatur exit which is my every day drive to and from work.

  • Pingback: 80 MPH New Michigan Speed Limit? « 104.3 WOMC
  • Amnfs

    Around the world the speed limit for many rural divided highways is around 88 mph. This is America! We are we so behind on our Interstate speed limits?

    And just because it's 80 doesn't mean you have to drive it, just stay to the right. Someone just told me he was in South Dakota, he was going the speed limit (75) down I-29, and was passing everyone. The new Texas highway 130 toll road is posted at 85 mph, but according to USA Today, the Mustang Ridge police chief claims most people do 70-75 mph. "They might still be weary of traveling that fast." Just goes to shows that a speed limit should be suitable enough to be a LIMIT, not a minimum, and that people tend to drive at their own comfortable pace and not tend to exceed reasonably posted speed limits that follow the sound engineering principal of 85th percentile speeds posted at the nearest 5 mph interval. The important thing to remember, regardless of speed limits, is if you're not passing, STAY TO THE RIGHT!

  • Amnfs

    But people will drive faster!

    No, that's none of your business and the majority of drivers will not go faster than what they feel is comfortable and safe regardless of the speed limit. For example, an 18-month study following an increase in the speed limit along the New York Thruway from 55 to 65 mph, determined that the average speed of traffic, 68 mph, remained the same. Even a national study conducted by Federal Highway Administration also concluded that raising or lowering the speed limit had practically no effect on actual travel speeds.

    Two examples of those studies:

    South Dakota raised the speed limit from 65 to 75 mph after national speed restrictions were repealed in 1995. The average speed on interstates has crept up over the years, but is still less than the posted speed limit.

    National Study

  • James C. Walker

    Senator Jones coming bill will not raise actual travel speeds enough to matter, maybe 1 or 2 mph. It will make today's actual safe travel speeds legal. Actual 85th speeds are now 78-84 mph.

    The 85th percentile method is 70+ years old and is one of the most proven traffic safety principles IF safety is the goal. The State Police and MDOT want the safest speed limits.

    I have done speed studies in Texas on I-10 in very rural counties where the posted limit is 80 mph. The 85th percentile speeds are 81-84 mph with only 1.2% of the vehicles at 90 mph or higher. WHY don't people "always drive 5 or 10 over" in places like this? Because most people do not feel safe and comfortable at speeds above the low 80s.

    Most people drive above the speed limit where the speed limit is wrong, and they comply with correct limits set for safety with proper engineering.

    Correct 80 mph rural freeway limits would improve Keep Right Except to Pass behavior, reduce tailgating, eliminate speed traps on freeways, draw more traffic off surface highways where the fatality rate is more than double that of the freeways, and generally improve safety statewide.

    Correct posted limits on urban arterials and collectors improve safety and end predatory speed traps for ticket revenue. That will be another goal of the bill. Enforcement for ticket profits is wrong 100% of the time.

    The bill will be opposed by those in the speeding ticket revenue stream including the insurance companies, some cities and many local police agencies. It will be opposed by those with no real understanding of traffic safety engineering principles. It will be supported by MDOT, the State Police and the National Motorists Association because it is correct traffic safety engineering.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor

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