Just a couple weeks after it was announced that Texas would raise speed limits on rural highways to 85mph, an an article by MLive reporter Zane McMillin looks at the distinct possibility that more states should look at raising speed limits. It highlights a situation last year where speed limits were raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan last year after a traffic study indicated that a majority of people were speeding through downtown Grand Rapids. After a 2006 Michigan law pegged speed limits to the percentage of motorists traveling at a given speed, Michigan's Department of Transportation raised the speed limit on highways in Grand Rapids, US-131 saw an increase downtown from 55mph to 70mph, while I-196 nearing Grand Rapids saw an increase from 55mph to 65mph. The increases were pegged to the speed of a larger portion of motorists in the study.

The article highlights that law abiding motorists following speed limits may be more dangerous than those speeding, prior to the speed limit increase in Grand Rapids. Should more states look at Michigan and how speed limits have evolved? Perhaps so. Even a Michigan State Police Traffic Services expert, Lt. Gary Megge, weighed in.

According to the MLive article,
On nearly every one, if not every one of our rural freeways in the state of Michigan, the 85th percentile speeds are nearly 75 to 85,” Megge said. Because of this, he added, law-abiding citizens might actually be more in danger than motorists driving five to 10 mph faster than the posted limit on rural freeways. “If you are driving 70 mph on a rural interstate, your chance of being involved in a crash is much greater than people driving at or near the 85th percentile speed,” Megge said.

Having said all of this, it would seem that more states should be performing speed studies to determine highway speeds.

The vast majority of people want to subscribe to the terms or term that ‘slower is safer,’ but that’s not necessarily the case,” Megge said. “Slower is safer when we’re talking about hazardous road conditions, presence of pedestrians. When we’re presented with certain hazards on the road, then yes, that is true.”

Motorists- what are your thoughts?