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Cars driving 75 mph in MI? Trucks driving 65 mph?

House-approved versions Of House Bills 4423 & 4425 would increase speed limits to 75 mph for cars on ‘rural’ freeways; to 65 mph for trucks; and from 55 mph to 65 mph for cars on non-freeways

Michigan speed limit increase, image

Are you ready for cars and trucks driving faster on Michigan roadways?

If not, then call your State Senator, because the Michigan Senate is now poised to take up House Bills 4423 and 4425, which were narrowly passed 56-53 by the Michigan House of Representatives and would increase speed limits for cars and trucks throughout Michigan.

From a safety standpoint, this development brings both bad and good news.

First, the bad news. If enacted into law, the House-approved version of HB 4423 and 4425 would increase speed limits in the following ways:

  • The speed limit on Michigan’s 600 miles of “rural limited access freeways” will be increased from 70 mph to 75 mph. This is bad because a 2014 MDOT-sponsored study shows that increasing the speed limit from 70 mph to 75 mph on “rural limited access freeways” will result in an approximate 17.6 % “increase[] in fatal crashes” – a point that I emphasized in my previous blog post about lawmakers’ original proposal to increase speed limits to 80 mph. To learn more about why “speed kills,” please check out my previous interview with Fox 2 Detroit’s Roop Raj.
  • The speed limit on Michigan’s 900 miles of non-freeways will increase from 55 mph to 60 or 65 mph. This is bad because a 2015 MDOT-sponsored study, which addressed this specific type of speed limit increase, concluded that it would “result in fatal … car crashes increasing by 28.1 percent …”
  • The speed limit for trucks weighing “10,000 pounds or more” will increase from 55 mph to 65 mph on “rural limited access freeways” and from 55 mph to 60 mph on “urban limited access freeways.” This is bad … well … for obvious reasons. A 10,000-lb-plus truck going 65 mph is much more dangerous and potentially deadly than the same truck at 55 mph.

Now, the good news – to the extent there can be said to be any – is the following:

  • Lawmakers backed off from their original proposal to increase speed limits to 80 mph. This is good news because, as I explained in a previous blog post, an MDOT-sponsored study concluded that increasing the speed limit on rural limited access freeways to 80 mph would result in a 29% increase in fatal crashes.
  • Lawmakers backed off from their original, ludicrous proposal to allow motorists to drive faster through construction work zones.

Chart: Progress of ‘speed limit’ bills

Below is a chart showing how the House-approved versions of House Bill 4423 and House Bill 4425 stack up against Michigan’s existing law:
Michigan Speed Limit Laws

‘Limited access freeways’

Under the bills approved by the House, there are two types of “limited access freeways”: Rural and urban.

Specifically, HB 4423 provides that, if enacted, the speed limit on rural limited access freeways would be increased to 75 mph and the speed limit on urban limited access freeways would be set at 70 mph. (HB 4423, Pages 6, 9-10)

What happens to truck speed limits on ‘highways’ and ‘streets’?

Under Michigan’s existing law, the maximum speed on “highways” and “streets” for trucking weighing “10,000 pounds or more” and other large vehicles is 55 mph:

A “person operating a truck with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more, a truck-tractor, a truck-tractor with a semi-trailer or trailer, or a combination of these vehicles shall not exceed a speed of 55 miles per hour on highways, streets, or freeways …” (MCL 257.627(6))

However, the House-approved version of HB 4423 eliminates the 55 mph maximum speed limits for trucks on “highway” and “streets” without proposing a replacement.

As such, if the House-approved version of HB 4423 were enacted, there would be no maximum speed limit for trucks on “highways” and “streets.”

Whatever happens with the rest of the bill, lawmakers need to immediately address this dangerous oversight.

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