Michigan Senator Considers Law To Raise Speed Limits

Posted at 10:41 PM, Aug 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-19 22:41:51-04

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.