By on August 5, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following was originally written by Jim Walker for the National Motorists Association blog, and has been republished with permission from the NMA.

I have worked closely with the Michigan State Police for several years in their pursuit of correcting as many Michigan posted speed limits to the correct 85th percentile speed level as possible. Yes, we have a very enlightened state police administration that wants to see posted limits set for safety, not revenue.

I have testified before Michigan legislative committees in support of the State Police to help explain the science involved, helped to nominate the key officers for a Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee Award which they won in 2006, and helped the police find areas of state trunk line routes (numbered highways) which should be re-surveyed because the posted limits were set far below the normal speeds of traffic.

In late 2006, the state police came to Ann Arbor and did speed studies on several state routes through Ann Arbor, parts of Business Route US-23 and parts of Business I-94.  The posted limits on these trunk line routes are legally under the control of the state police and MDOT, not local authorities, but the local authorities can sometimes “push back” in the court of public opinion.

After a long period of negotiations and explanations with a city that does not want posted limits raised at all, three areas were re-posted in early 2008 with corrected speed limits raised to the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions.

The City Council even passed a resolution opposing these safety-oriented changes, but they do not have legal control over state routes, so they finally agreed to the three areas to be changed.

After allowing a period of adjustment while drivers got used to the newly posted higher limits, I re-surveyed these three areas to see what changes there were, if any, in actual travel speeds.

The huge study done in 1992 by Martin Parker says there would be little change in the speeds people actually drive.

This was, of course, the result.

Actual travel speeds changed by a maximum of 2 mph in some parameters, not at all in others, and some speed points were lower with the higher posted limits. The actual traffic speeds remained the same as they have been for 23 years.

One thing did change. As was expected, the vast majority of safe, sane, competent drivers who go along with the normal flow of traffic are no longer arbitrarily defined as criminals, and no longer subject to big ticket fines and even bigger insurance surcharges.

One of my key goals is to get a reluctant Ann Arbor city government to adopt the proven practices to set the safest speed limits as described in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Engineering Handbook, the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and the revised set of Michigan traffic laws that went into effect in November of 2006.

It is an uphill battle, because of two reasons.

First, the city makes so much money from traffic tickets that safety practices take a back seat to the revenue.

Second, the flow of misinformation and deliberate disinformation that has come out of Washington since the early 1970s has convinced many citizens that lower numbers painted on the speed limit signs means lower actual traffic speeds and safer driving.

Anyone who has read the scientific literature knows this is totally false, but a lot of education is needed to repair the damage and correct the false beliefs many people have about posted limits.

Hopefully the City Council members and others who read the charts will see the proofs that actual travel speeds do NOT rise with corrected 85th percentile posted speed limits and that will remove one counter argument for posting 85th percentile speed limits to maximize safety.

RESULTS
Definitions included at the bottom of the page.

History Of Speeds On North Main Street (Northern Section)
Data is from the middle of the section where the posted speed limit was corrected to 45 mph in 2008, from the former 40 mph.  Data is taken at Points 1 and A on the MDOT Traffic Control Order Map.

Survey Date Sep 2006 Aug 2008
Posted Speed Limit 40 MPH 45 MPH
% of Vehicles Obeying Speed Limit 33% 71%
50th Percentile Speed 43 MPH 43 MPH
85th Percentile Speed 47 MPH 47 MPH
90th Percentile Speed 49 MPH 49 MPH
% of Vehicles at 50 MPH or Higher 8.4% 8.6%
Fastest Speed Recorded 55 MPH 54 MPH
Total Range of Speeds 29 to 55 MPH 33 to 54 MPH
Maximum Difference in Speed 26 MPH 21 MPH

History Of Speeds on Washtenaw Avenue, Near the City Club
Data is from the middle of the section where the posted speed limit was corrected to 40 mph in 2008, from the former 30 mph.  Data is taken at Points 5 and P on the MDOT Traffic Control Order Map.

Survey Date Sep 2006 Aug 2008
Posted Speed Limit 30 MPH 40 MPH
% of Vehicles Obeying Speed Limit 8% 86%
50th Percentile Speed 35 MPH 36 MPH
85th Percentile Speed 40 MPH 40 MPH
90th Percentile Speed 41 MPH 42 MPH
% of Vehicles at 45 MPH or Higher 0.7% 1.7%
Fastest Speed Recorded 47 MPH 49 MPH
Total Range of Speeds 28 to 47 MPH 28 to 49 MPH
Maximum Difference in Speed 19 MPH 21 MPH

History Of Speeds on Washtenaw Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Data is from the middle of the section where the posted speed limit was corrected to 45 mph in 2008, from the former 35 mph.  Data is taken at Points R & S on the MDOT Traffic Control Order Map.

Survey Date Sep 2006 Aug 2008
Posted Speed Limit 35 MPH 45 MPH
% of Vehicles Obeying Speed Limit 4% 79%
50th Percentile Speed 42 MPH 43 MPH
85th Percentile Speed 47 MPH 46 MPH
90th Percentile Speed 48 MPH 47 MPH
% of Vehicles at 50 MPH or Higher 4.7% 2.6%
Fastest Speed Recorded 58 MPH 52 MPH
Total Range of Speeds 33 to 58 MPH 34 to 52 MPH
Maximum Difference in Speed 25 MPH 18 MPH

DEFINITIONS:

50th Percentile: Speed at which 50% of vehicles are above that speed and 50% are below.

85th Percentile: Speed at which 85% of the vehicles are below or right at that speed.

90th Percentile: Speed at which 90% of the vehicles are below or right at that speed.

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46 Comments on “The Effect Of Speed Limits On Actual Travel Speeds...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    Car and Driver actually had an article this month about the issue. A few states have this regulation and some localities have refused to raise speed limits. State’s are considering suing their own cities.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Don’t let real data get in the way of obfuscation. Science is only real when it confirms global warming.

  • avatar

    Fascinating, but not surprising. Thank you both to TTAC for posting this and to NMA for doing the legwork.

    I’m a long-time member of NMA.

    • 0 avatar
      roadracer

      +1. This kind of work is why I remain a member of NMA.

      I also appreciate living in Michigan, it’s a better state to drive in than, say, Wisconsin or Ohio.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      @roadracer: Unless you like your roads curvy and/or well-maintained. Then, just about anywhere else is better.

      I get lots of laughs from my friends with my “Michigan Roads Suck” shirt, purchased in Hell, MI.

  • avatar
    rmwill

    While I recently served in local government in Michigan, I can confirm that local politicians and bureaucrats would try to interfere with traffic studies and post lower speed limits to create revenue enhancement zones. They justify this by arguing “Slower is Safer” which we know, as describe above, is bullshit.

    Great post!

  • avatar
    H Man

    Great article; unfortunate that it is true. I’m still waiting for a reply from Sublette County, Wyoming for my bullshit 75-in-a-65 ticket.

    As an aside, has anyone here ever received a bribe from a cop? Mine was simple: pay double the fine and take an online driving course and we’ll make the ticket go away. I assume this is legal, but I’ll be damned before I give in to a bribe from a highway patrolman. I’d rather pay higher insurance.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Something like that is pretty standard in Illinois. What’s more irritating is they take your license and expect you to use a copy of the ticket for identification. I haven’t tried it at an airport since I try not to fly if humanly possible, but I can’t imagine it being acceptable unless they’re printing up tickets with mug shots (not sure since my last ticket was seven years ago).

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      I continue to wonder how it’s legal for IL cops to take away licenses for a minor traffic offense. I used to work at a liquor store in college and there’d be kids from IL who got a ticket and tried to buy with a piece of paper with their info on it. I always told them no and to take it up with the IL state police as I wasn’t gonna take a $1000+ fine and lose a job for someone who didn’t have a valid ID on them.

      From what folks here in AL tell me, it’ll be a cold day in hell before they adopt this type of limit setting. Been told by multiple people that they’ve received tickets for less than 5 over and the small town cops couldn’t have cared less about it since they were out for revenue. I’ve heard LA cops are even worse.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    None of this surprises me. Slow Down! Save Lives! (or we’ll ticket you, and raise your insurance)

    What a crock.

    We’re all treated like children, too stupid to think for ourselves, too helpless to make good decisions without fear of penalties, forever operating under the watchful eye of the revenue collectors.

    Sucks.

    And don’t even get me started on all the construction zones and the madness that’s taking place there. I totally agree with protecting our workers on the roadside, but the shenanigans that goes along with the lonely orange barrels on the side of the road is another complete crock of shit.

    I really hope this new period of enlightenment taking place in Michigan spreads to the rest of the country.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      “We’re all treated like children, too stupid to think for ourselves, too helpless to make good decisions without fear of penalties, forever operating under the watchful eye of the revenue collectors.”

      Well said. I live in California, and I am sick of this nanny state.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    No surprise here. But if anybody thinks that municipalities are going to give up their cash cow without a fight they are mistaken.

    I gave some serious thought to joint NMA because of $cameras and speed traps but after researching them, I just couldn’t. They seem to believe that any regulation regarding automobiles is bad. Sorry, but there is no way cars would be as clean or as safe as they are now if just left to market forces. Fuel economy is a perfect exanple. The average obtained is often the bare minimum, including all the system gaming that can be dreamed up. I/M/emission testing is the same. States without them have some seriously bad cars on the road. This may not be a popular position here but so be it.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    Don’t get me started on Ann Arbor! I lived there for 4 years… they use traffic and parking tickets to enable their insanely profligate municipal spending. A2 has the annoyances of a city with the claustrophobia of a small town.
    I know the roads they refer to in the report and the new limits are sensible.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      This is also my “hometown” … And one does have to question the priorities and manipulation of budgets there … Recently, AA decided to cut firemen due to budget constraints, yet decided to spend 875k on a fountain from a german sculptur.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Unfortunately, as a large university town Ann Arbor is chock-full of young, careless and in many cases self-entitled drivers. Shaking them down has been a steady industry for the better part of a century. In a lot of cases it’s justified.

      Now, Pittsfield Twp is another story. If your fender is a different color than your hood, that’s sure-enough probable cause.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    In Canada, 700 people die per year due to “speed related” accidents. DOUBLE that die from drunk driving accidents. The “speed related” stat includes speeding drunks. In my City, Calgary, I will see about 5 speed traps a week. In 17 years of driving I have seen 2 checkstops. That’s it. Calgary region has 1.2 million people. The Calgary police have 1 checkstop team. But a lot of traffic cops dedicated to speed enforcement. So being that drunks kill more than double the number of speeding victims (more because drunk speeders are included in the “speed related” stat) we should have more than double the number of police catching drunks than doing speed traps…right?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Considering DUIs carry a much higher fine than speeding, if it were that easy I’m sure the police would do it.

      Unfortunately with the very low .08 BAC levels that constitute DUIs many driver’s don’t drive in a way that visually clues an officer in that they may be under the influence. Add to that (and this is in the US, Canada may be different) that the stats can be manipulated in such a way that even if the person causing the accident wasing the one under the influence, or even if one of the drivers had alcohol in their systems but was still under the legal limit the accident can still be said to be ‘alcohol related’.

      Checkpoints slow traffic down, and IMO cross over the line of what is constitutionally valid (again, speaking in regards to the US, not Canada). The police should have no right to stop or look inside of any car unless they observe the driver of that vehicle breaking the law, whether it be driving recklessly, speeding, weaving, or some other visual sign that the driver is impaired.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendon from Canada

      Nullo – in Canada stats provided by MADD (who seem to be the most often quoted and vocal group) definitely include some interesting practices when defining alcohol related accidents – from David J Hanson PH.D :

      “Mothers Against Drunk Driving appears to make no distinction between “alcohol-related” and “drunken” accidents. But alcohol-related only means that the driver, a passenger, pedestrian, or anyone else associated with the accident had consumed at least a sip of alcohol or was believed to have done so.”

      With regards to the relative fines/penalties a first offence DUI in Ontario is ~$500 + an ignition interlock installation for a year – conviction is not automatic and you can go to court. First offence for speeding 30MPH+ is an automatic roadside seizure of the vehicle (and usually a week or so of impound charges), $10k fine + possible jail time; you can go to court, but the vehicle is impounded immediately based solely on the officer’s determination; the law is relatively new, and recently the cases have been getting tossed based on the jail time (Canadian law prohibits absolute liability when a jail term is possible – ie, you have to have a day in court), however by that time the vehicle has already been seized and paying. There have been a few cases of people simply not collecting their vehicles as the cost of impound charges greatly exceeds the value of the vehicle (more common with bikes).

      What is even more crazy is this scenario – I was pulled over for ~28MPH over the limit a few weeks ago. The cop was extremely nice (and quite beautiful – my wife even commented on it afterwards!), left me with a ~13mph ticket and told me to keep it at 20MPH or less over in the future and no one would bother me. The really crazy part is that had I been going an extra 2MPH I would suddenly have been significantly more dangerous and would have lost our vehicle for a week (and faced the $10k fine – to the best of my knowledge no one has ever been sent to jail!). Know I was probably a few MPH over the general flow, but in that area of the highway the typical flow is ~20 – 25MPH over the limit depending on the time of day….

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    Nobody obeys speed limits around here. Most people drive 10-20 km/h over the limit. I got stuck behind a cop the other day, which caused traffic to back up because he was only doing 60 in a 40 zone. The norm for that road is 70.

    Closer to home, the limit is 70 km/h on a wide, smooth highway. I think the 85th percentile speed must be 90 or more. I wish we had that rule here.

    Most of the accidents I’ve seen are caused by people running red lights, people following too close, and drunks crashing into lamp posts & power poles. Speed is not the major factor in these types of crashes.

    • 0 avatar
      SomeDude

      Speed is a major factor in a lot of crashes, even if it’s not always obvious. I’ll give you three examples.

      One example is just by my window. A major intersection; the posted limit is 50 km/h both ways. A large percentage of drivers do 70-80 km/h, I’d guesstimate. When the light switches to yellow, those don’t have enough time to react (and f’n stop), try to beat the light and inadvertently hit cars making the left turn. And – right – the latter drivers get citations for a failure to yield.

      Example two is either of the intersecting streets. Do you think people know what the safe driving distance is? Try to adjust it and another car will jump on in in an instant. As a result, almost everybody is doing well above the speed limit and there’s only a couple of meters separating the cars. An accident ready to happen.

      Example three is the beltway. 5pm.The speed limit is 70 km/h, but most do around a hundred even in the outer lane. You want to merge, but everybody is pissed off because it’s hot and nobody’s going to let you in. Now talk about speed being not a factor.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Okay, I’ll say it. Speed is not a major factor in any of your examples. Most people don’t slow for yellows, don’t allow enough of a following distance or let people merge. Speed has nothing to do with these. If anything, the only effect speed has is how far the parts fly when there is an impact, but it is not factor in the accident itself.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    OK, so I’m not doing crazy/going senile in my old age [late 20s] … the speed limits on North Main AND on Washtenaw WERE raised.

    I listened to louder music when I was an undergraduate, but I probably drive faster now.

  • avatar

    Great article.

    I remember reading the following a few years ago: Review and Analysis of Posted Speed Limits and Speed Limit Setting Practices in British Columbia. http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/publications/eng_publications/speed_review/Speed_Review_Report.pdf

    Very interesting read…

    We’re in a fight right now in my city whereby they want to reduce urban speed limits to 40km/h from 50km/h… According to common sense, the study posted and the study I linked to all this will accomplish will be to make ‘criminals’ out of ordinary citizens.

    And don’t get me started on Ontario’s lovely ’50km/h over and we steal your car “law”‘ Nevermind the fact we already have laws in effect that weren’t being enforced that this Draconian legislation is supposed to address. The fact it was pushed through by a so-called liberal government, how can we not see it as another tax? If it had to do with road safety, you would see officers posted in school zones and high-collision intersections as a matter of course, not the middle of a 400-series freeway on a sunny Sunday afternoon cherry picking the masses as they return from the cottage.

    A cop once told me: “Speed is always a factor. If you weren’t moving, you wouldn’t hit anything.” … where’s the shakey-head emoticon??..

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I’ve always been in favor of limits being set by engineers of the basis of safety and thru-put.

    And I’m looking forward to the day, when cars will have GPS-interfaced speed limiters which take into account weather, traffic load, congestion, as well as training and experience of the driver.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      Really – so you want you car to limit how fast you can go? That can be more dangerous (if you can’t accelerate out of a problem) Or would you prefer you car to allow you to exceed the limit for a short period and you automatically send you details to the police who can then mail you a ticket!

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Great work, and glad to see Michigan doing the right thing.

    Now can you maybe suggest a way for the state to do something about the Michigan drivers in speed percentiles 0 thru 5 who clog the passing lanes across our great land? They’re not as bad as the drivers from a certain adjoining state just to the southeast, but definitely a close second nationwide.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I was recently on a trip with my family to western Mass. I noticed that on the road to the campground where we were staying, the speed limit changed so often it got confusing. On a 7 mile drive into the nearest town, the limit must have changed 10 times. You’d see 2 houses on the road and the limit would change. Rarely used intersection? Change it again. It has to be dangerous since no one except locals have any idea what the current speed limit is.

    Here in eastern Canada, it’s the opposite. 80km/h on most back roads, 50-60km/h when you get closer to town. It doesn’t change every mile or so.

    I’m guessing that whoever makes the road signs in Mass. must have friends in the government. :)

  • avatar
    SVT48

    I have always found the Michigan State Police to be much more driver friendly than their counterparts to the south (Ohio Highway Patrol). Try driving on US 23 on the Saturday of the Ohio St./ Michigan game in Columbus with Michigan plates on your car! As far as the study goes, why was it considered safe to drive my 57 Chevy with drum brakes and 2-ply bias-belt tires 65 mph on roads that now are only considered safe for 55 mph in a car with 4-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, radial tires rated for 180+ mph, traction control, stability control, air bags all around and a crash protection structure? Maybe because it’s too profitable to change even if it makes sense?

  • avatar
    Disaster

    While I agree with this study, and most of the safety relationship, I do think there are times that this falls apart…mostly because of poor access. For example, many public schools are placed in neighborhoods with no good access except down residential streets. These narrow streets, with poor visibility, are not safe to travel down at 40mph, yet a huge number of kids, and parents in a hurry to drop there kids off, on the way to work, do travel those speeds…kids and people leaving their driveways in the morning be damned! I’ve seen the same happen with some businesses.

    The best solution would be to open up decent arteries to these schools, but in many cases, it just isn’t practical. In these cases the only choice is to enforce the slower speed limit aggressively for the publics safety. IMHO, the signs that flash your speed are good reminders that you are entering one of those zones…as opposed to officers hiding and writing tickets all day long.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Why can’t that be taken care of by a marked and enforced school zone, that reduces the speed limit to, say, 30 during the hours kids are arriving at and going home from school?

  • avatar
    snabster

    A few random thoughts:

    1. State law to ban insurance companies from having access to any speeding tickets. Going 45 in a 25, which is a pretty serious offense, isn’t much of an indicator of getting into an accidents. Anyway, with mandatory coverage it shouldn’t make a difference. So take away the incentive for insurance companies to jump into bed with the police.

    2. City roads vs. highways. I wonder what percentage of tickets are given out on highways vs. city streets. I don’t have much of a problem with ticketing people who speed on city streets, but most highway tickets seem pretty stupid to me. There are exceptions — Jack Baruth’s of the world should be hit hard, because going 90 or 100 on a road with other cars is dangerous to other cars.

    3. Street design. I’m coming to the conclusion that many city streets are just too wide. You local DOT wants to rebuild them a few inches wider every year. If you are serious of limiting speed, just build your roads a tiny bit smaller and people will slow down.

    4. Speed cameras are great — as long as they can with mandatory warning signs posted. The “speed-flash” sign are also pretty good.

    5. Driver training. For whatever reason people get very comfortable in their driving environments. When I lived in the country going 60 down a country lane in the middle of the road seemed normal (they were essentially one lane roads). City driving involves a lot of other techniques (cutting across 3 lanes of traffic in a circle). So many of our problems are when people are used to one mode suddenly get thrown into another mode.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    “So take away the incentive for insurance companies to jump into bed with the police.”

    The insurance industry, especially Geico, aggressively encourages The State to ramp up fines and violations because it’s good for their business. This link is not going away and once GPS becomes a standard part of your car they will take it to a new level.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Remember when the wise men in the govt led the mindless, unscientific chant “Stay Alive, Drive 55″ ?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Remember GUARD? Group United Against Radar Detectors…a BS front put out by GEICO. Geico also bailed out a radar manufacturer with a sweetheart deal in which they received a bunch of product that they distributed in areas where they sold insurance. Nice. The insurance industry sucks! It’s all about separating you from your cash.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    Well here is another politician crying about raised speed limits in Michigan. And kids are not allowed to cross 16 Mile Rd on foot at that intersection. Why wasn’t he there videotaping when school let out, the video is from March? I’m sure he meant drive across since there is a High School up the street but you wouldn’t know it unless you live there. I used to drive through there years ago when school let out and never saw what he is talking about.

    http://www.macombdaily.com/video/media-12025046/metro-parkway-speed-limit/

    I will say this, Michigan is very progressive when it comes to speed limit and red light cameras, both have always been unconstitutional. Also, being the former motor capital of the US the state is more sympathetic to drivers.

  • avatar
    northview

    Speeding tickets help justify higher pay for police. Here in the Chicago area, we see lots of ‘Vacation in Wisconsin’ commercials, but they don’t mention they target cars with Illinois plates. This is a tax on the young who still have a rosy view of the world.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I’d be interested to see the data for higher limits – 55mph and up. Around here, the two-lane limits are 55 and 65 is the generally accepted rule, except for the 5% morons who dawdle around at 40 in double-line areas and generate chains of 20 or more cars behind them.

    The same is generally true on interstates; 55 = 65; 65 = 75, but there’s a bit of a bigger spread. I80 near NYC will have a normal speed of 80 to 85 at times, but some of the 70 and 75mph zones through Virginia and NC rarely hit 80.

    I was thinking of setting up a web site where people could list places and where they’ve actually been pulled, so people driving through know what the defacto (will get you pulled) limit is in any given area. You could even integrate it with the iPhone and GPS so you could see what the real limit is at any point…

    On another note, I suspect that speed differential is far more relevant to safety than speed in absolute terms. A whole highway full of people going 55mph will be more dangerous if 5% are going 75; that doesn’t mean that a whole road full of people going 75 is vastly more dangerous.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    Wow, this is awesome. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Never ceases to amaze me how some idiots drive 3-under at highway speeds (usually in the left-hand lane, while most folks are passing to the right at 5-10 over) while on my poorly-graded curvy neighborhood street, speedlimit 25, a solid pluralty will go 15-25 over (sometimes into my mailbox or neighbors stoop, with hilarious/expensive results.)

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    I was driving in Utah this summer. On 1-15 there were two zones where it said “Speed Limit Test Section” and the speed limit was 80 miles per hour. Before and after those two zones the speed limit was 75 miles per hour.

    I generally keep my cruise control set at about 72 miles per hour. (My thought is that is a good compromise for fuel efficiency. But I have no real basis for believing that.) So I did not speed up in those sections.

    The speed of other cars did not seem to change either. Most cars seemed to be going less than 80 miles per hour, but more than 75, both in and out of the 80 miles per hour zones.

    Interesting. I suspect that the test zones are an effort to match speed limits with reality. If so, kudos to the Utah government people making the effort.

    • 0 avatar
      wp8thsub

      I live in UT and have noted the same thing as you on the 80MPH limit. People seem to leave their cruise control set the same as for the adjacent 75 zones. We have a lot of rural freeway in the west posted at 75, and I typically pass a lot of cars if I set the cruise at 78. Back in the Drive 55 days, the usual speeds on these roads were… about 70-75. The limits now reflect the reality that always was.

      There are long stretches of freeway in west Texas posted at 80 as well, and I observed relatively few cars travelling that fast when I was there. Most were doing a few miles under.

    • 0 avatar
      redbeard

      Another Utah resident here.

      The State has actually raised the speed limits to 80 mph permanently is a few freeway locations based on the study they conducted through the past year.

      I am pleased. Depending on which of my 3 vehicles I am piloting, my typical speed in a 75 zone is 79-89. I don’t change speed when I reach an 80 zone unless I’m really in a hurry.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m adding my $0.02 here and I live in MN and have gotten one speeding ticket. I was pulled doing 75 in a 55, a section of the freeway where the limit drops 10 mph because it is heading into the city, and the officer was nice about it and gave me a 65-in-a-55 with no same or similar for a year. The ticket was $143 (with a $2 convenience charge added for paying over the phone). Minnesota, or at least Hennepin county, recently got rid of its graduated fines structure where 1-10 over would be $x.xx and 11-20 would be $y.yy etc. Anything up to 19 over is $143 and anything over 20 is $260 (I think), and anything in the triple digits (no matter the posted limited) is something like a $500 fine and 6 months suspension of driving privileges (or something fairly similar).

    Long story short that ticket has caused me to be more conscious of my speed because I don’t feel like paying for b.s. I’ve started setting the cruise at 70 and staying at that speed in the right lane. If there is a line of vehicles going 60 mph I will move over and try to get in front of them without speeding, but if I see somebody who is gaining and obviously not slowing I will squeeze back over (it’s just not worth the hassle) and drop back behind them so I can get past the slow people.

    Having said all of that I don’t see a point in speeding anymore. I used to think that it would get me places faster (it would make sense you are driving faster and distances get chewed up faster) and so I got curious and did the math one day. The difference between going 55 versus 75 on my way to work (about 15 miles) is 2.5 minutes, which is not long in the grand scheme of things. I know this adds up if you’re going vast distances, but most people stay within about 20 miles of any 2 places so it really doesn’t work out.

    I know that I’m making generalizations, but these are my observations. The one thing that drives me nuts even more than people who are going slower (in the slow lane – there it’s okay) are the people who don’t know the meaning of the words “acceleration lane” and will hit the freeway going 45mph.

    If I’m not making sense I apologize since sometimes I have a hard time articulating my thoughts.

    We should go the German route with the Autobahn. I was watching a show on the Autobahn and it is safer than US roadways because everybody has to concentrate when they are going 120mph+, there would be no cell phone yappers, people drinking or eating, and the left lane is for passing only and can net a ticket if you’re caught sitting there. I’ve never been to Germany (not for lack of interest) so I may be mistating things a bit and any Germans are more than welcome to correct me.

    Tank

    Fahren macht Spass!!

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    PeriSoft, as to your (commonly heard and widely believed) statement that uniform speeds are safer? The speed differentials in Germany are by U.S. standards, quite radical. Driving past a 60mph truck at an additional 60 mph?, been there and done that. Lane discipline is what makes the difference.
    In any given year, the Autobahn can have a lower deaths per mile traveled than our interstates.
    Furthermore uniform speeds are not possible out here in the western half of the USA where there are long hills and lots of curves and power sapping higher elevations in many places.

  • avatar
    bishop2020

    Back in college I was an Traffic Engineering intern for a city in California. We were required to set the speed limit to the 85th percentile and the survey had to current within 5 years or there was a risk it could be contested in court and any fines thrown out. So it was my job to go out and update these surveys armed with my trusty radar gun and city van.

    But here’s where it got tricky, to be valid the survey had to be taken on an average day with no mitigating factors such as rain, etc. I did not however prevent they city from having a cop sit on that road night & day for a week before we did the survey. So the engineering dept would let the city know what roads we’d be updating and the cops would be dispatched to scare the regular drivers there into 5-10mph slowdowns compared to their usual driving habits, and then I’d be sent out to do the survey. If it was still too far outside the desired speed we’d scrap it and try again. So even when the law is the 85th percentile there are still ways they city can artificially reduce the speed limit unfortunately.

  • avatar
    H Man

    On a related note: There was a story posted here a few months back about an Oregon man who was on a state-long walk to protest the stupid-low speed limits here. Curious what became of him…

    Edit: I really could have just googled it first. ugh.

    http://bloggingandslogging.blogspot.com/


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