Sunday, April 06, 2014

Speed Limit proposals - a mixed bag

I saw this in the Argus. My view on speed limits is the same as my view on profanity. Time, place, and manner.

From the Argus

Road officials and advocates for construction workers fear a plan to increase speed limits on state and county roads could further endanger road crews.
Legislation introduced in late March would prohibit speed limits to be lowered more than 10 mph below the normal limit, with the total limit no lower than 30 mph, in local construction zones.
On expressways, the speed limit could not be decreased to lower than 60 mph in construction zones unless workers were in close proximity to barrel lines or not protected by barriers under the proposal.
The construction-zone component is one of many in the bill package, which also would create a maximum 80 mph speed limit on rural expressway segments.
State law currently enforces a 55 mph speed limit on unposted county roads. That would increase to 60 mph on unposted county roads under the bills.
If the proposed rules were in place last year, the speed limit could only have been reduced to 50 mph at Grand River Avenue and Burkhart Road in Howell Township during emergency repairs, noted Mike Craine, Livingston County Road Commission managing director.
 “There’s no freaking way that we could have let people go through there at 50 mph, which is what this law would seem to require,” Craine said.“It doesn’t really address the full range of conditions that road construction’s likely to present for safety of the motorist and safety of the worker,” he added.

My attitude regarding construction zone is this. Are people working at the site? If nothing is going on there and no people are there, I don't see a problem going 65-70. If there's work being done at the site, then going 60 is crazy. The other question is what is the definition of "close proximity?" 

I fully support 80mph on rural expressways in good weather.

As far as unposted county roads, that needs to be time/place, and matter. A road like D-19 or Chilson is one thing, but Cunningham Lake is another. I grew up on Cunningham Lake near the old Brighton Recreational Area on an rural unposted county road. The speed limit on that dirt road is currently 55. That's insane. Making it 60 is more insane. One of my complaints about the paving proposals from Genoa Township was the speed increase. Going 60 on that road is a good way to hit a deer, turkey, crane, dog, cat, hunter, jogger, walker, someone's grandkid, or another pedestrian.  During the last snow dusting, I saw the mailbox post get smashed due to a car hitting it. It was probably a total job or close to it. Hopefully the driver wasn't hurt too badly. 

I support this, although will this get rid of the 0 point 5 over tickets on the expressway when the cop gives a driver going 84 a semi-break?

The bills also would prohibit speeding tickets for driving 5 mph or less over posted limits.

Jones said there are several roadways statewide with low speed limits intended to catch motorists as they exit higher speed zones. The end result is often a costly ticket for the average commuter, he said.
“That’s just horrible, because what you’re doing is you’re writing a ticket for the average guy trying to get to work. His auto insurance goes up for three years,” he said.
“We’re trying to clean up the abuses,” Jones added.
Speed limits in Michigan are set based on the speed that 85 percent of traffic moves on a given road. The idea is to promote smooth traffic and target the 15 percent of motorists who drive too fast.

I like a lot of the IDEAS here. I despise speed traps as much as the next person, but not every speed limit drop is a speed trap. That's why I mentioned time, place, and manner.

1 comment:

Jordan Genso said...

I agree with everything you said except for allowing 80mph on rural highways. I'm cautious about supporting that because of the increased variance of speed for those on the highway. Two different groups will be going notably slower than the 80mph:

1) Semi-trucks. If their lower speed limit remains the same, then the difference in the two types of traffic would be potentially dangerous. If their speed limit is raised accordingly as well, then I would be concerned that a semi traveling at the faster speed would be unable to quickly stop if needed. I believe that is the reasoning behind the lower speed limit now- that they will have significantly less control at a faster speed- and so the 80mph limit would present a lose-lose situation for semis.

2) Drivers like myself who prefer a 65-75mph pace of travel (or those who already go even slower than that). Even if the speed limit on the highway was 80mph, I would still prefer to go around 70mph for my own comfort and for efficiency purposes. I already irritate some drivers if I'm going 74mph to pass a semi on US-23, I can't imagine how much more upset they'd be if the speed limit was 80mph.

In my opinion, there are some people who view traffic as a 'race', and will always try to go faster than the traffic around them. If you increase the limit to 80mph and no chance of getting a ticket for going 85mph, then you'll have those drivers going closer to 90mph.

At some point, we reach the point where traffic is moving too fast for safety's sake. I think the status quo 70mph limit is acceptable. While I'm not strongly opposed to 80mph on highways that rarely get any traffic, it would need to be done properly before I'd give in on it.