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The race is on: Michigan’s new speed limit law allows cars, trucks & buses to go faster

Gov. Snyder approved bills to increase freeway speed limit to 75 and highway speeds to 65; also allowing trucks over 10,000-lbs and school buses to drive faster

speedometer

The need for speed has prevailed with Michigan’s new speed limit law.

Despite significant and credible research – not to mention common sense – showing that higher speed limits will cause more people to die in car accidents, Gov. Rick Snyder approved legislation on January 5, 2017, that will increase speed limits for cars, trucks and school buses on Michigan freeways and highways.

The bills, House Bills 4423 and 4425, which are now Public Acts 445 and 447 of 2016, enact the following changes in Michigan’s speed limit laws:

  • Freeway maximum speed limit will increase from 70 mph to 75 mph: Until now, the law provided that “the maximum speed limit on all freeways shall be 70 miles per hour …” (MCL 257.628(8)) However, Enrolled House Bill 4425/Public Act 447 of 2016 eliminates the 70 mph max. And, Enrolled House Bill 4423/Public Act 445 of 2016 provides that the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police “shall increase the speed limits on at least 600 miles of limited access freeway to 75 miles per hour …”
  • Highway maximum speed limit will increase from 55 mph to 65 mph: Until now, the law provided that the “maximum speed limit on all highways or parts of highways … is 55 miles per hour …” (MCL 257.628(1)) However, Enrolled House Bill 4425/Public Act 447 of 2016 eliminates the 55 mph max. And, Enrolled House Bill 4423/Public Act 445 of 2016 provides that the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police “shall increase the speed limit of 900 miles of trunk line highway to 65 miles per hour …”
  • Trucks’ maximum highway and freeway speed limit will increase from 55 mph/60 mph to 65 mph: Until now, the law provided that a truck “shall not exceed a speed of 55 miles per hour on highways” and “shall not exceed a speed of 60 miles per hour on a freeway if the maximum speed limit on that freeway is 70 miles per hour.” (MCL 257.627(6)) However, Enrolled House Bill 4423/Public Act 445 of 2016 provides that “[w]here the posted speed limit is greater than 65 miles per hour,” a truck “with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more, a truck-tractor, or a truck-tractor with a semi-trailer or trailer or a combination of these vehicles shall not exceed a speed of 65 miles per hour on a limited access freeway or a state trunk line highway.”
  • School buses’ maximum highway and freeway speed limit will increase from 55 mph/60 mph to 65 mph: Until now, the law provided that a school bus “shall not exceed the speed of 55 miles per hour” on highways and “shall not exceed a speed of 60 miles per hour on a freeway if the maximum speed limit on that freeway is 70 miles per hour.” (MCL 257.627(6) and (7)) However, Enrolled House Bill 4423/Public Act 445 of 2016 provides that “[w]here the posted speed limit is greater than 65 miles per hour,” a “school bus … shall not exceed a speed of 65 miles per hour on a limited access freeway or a state trunk line highway.”

Significantly, the new laws passed the Michigan House and Senate by relatively narrow margins: House by a 56 to 53 vote on June 1, 2016; Senate by 28 to 8 vote on December 7, 2016; and, again, the House by a 57 to 51 vote on December 13, 2016.

Be sure to check out my blog post next week, when I discuss the possible effects these new, increased speed limits could have on the speed demons on the Lodge Freeway in Detroit, the South Beltline Freeway in Grand Rapids and elsewhere.

Speed kills

Speed kills. Period. And increasing the speed limits only makes the risk of injury and death that much more unavoidable.

Add in the fact that folks are texting and driving and engaging in distracted driving at epidemic proportions, it’s clear we’re speeding headlong toward to serious trouble.

When these bills passed the Senate, I told Jonathon Oosting of The Detroit News:

“‘I’m really disappointed … The politicians did what they think will make them popular, but we know with absolute certainty that it’s going to cause more people to die in car accidents and more people to be seriously injured.’”

That’s how I still feel, only more so.

Gov. Snyder missed an excellent opportunity to stand up for the safety, health and welfare and Michigan drivers and visitors using our freeways and highways.

Increased speed limits = increased traffic deaths

The research is clear – especially in light of studies sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) – that speed limit increases such as those in House Bills 4423 and 4425, which are now Public Acts 445 and 447 of 2016 will cause more people to die. For instance:

  • Raising the speed limit from 70 mph to 75 mph on freeways is estimated to increase motor vehicle accident-related fatalities by 17%.
  • Raising the speed limit from 55 mph to 65 mph on non-freeways, i.e., highways, is estimated to increase in car accident traffic fatalities by 28%.

Additionally, a 1990 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute showed that fatalities increased 19.2% increase and serious injuries increased 39.8% when Michigan raised its speed limit on rural limited access highways from 55 mph to 65 mph in December 1987.

This entry was tagged Tags: speed limits
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