By on January 31, 2017

David Lofink/Flickr Speed Limit 55

The Interstate Highway System is pretty much set in stone (or concrete and asphalt, to be exact), so there’s little hope of more driving engagement for bored motorists who long for a few twisties during their long-distance slogs.

Governments can raise or lower speed limits, but they sure can’t do much to alleviate boredom. In our morning discussion here at TTAC, Indiana and Pennsylvania came up as the worst offenders for yawn-inducing drives. Geography is fickle like that. Of course, a sure-fire way to reduce the boredom that sets in between cities is to simply close the gap in less time.

Just think: fewer awkward silences between yourself and a passenger, fewer awful songs on local radio, and more time saved, at the expense of more gas consumed. It seems a decent trade-off. We’ve come a long way since the dark days of the 1970s, when crossing a state at 55 miles per hour felt like taking the Oregon Trail.

However, have we come far enough?

No longer do any states fully hold to the 55 mph Nixon-era standard. A handful of Northeastern enclaves maintain a 65 mph Interstate limit, and some choose to enforce them rigorously (looking at you, New York). There’s no doubt that many find it too low. Still, east of the Great Plains, 70 mph sits in the majority, higher if you’re in Michigan or the wooded expanses of Maine. Then there’s the free-wheeling west, where cars — like buffalo — were meant to roam free, and do, for the most part.

Residents of Ontario, of course, can only gaze southward and dream. The province maintains a 100 kilometer per hour rule on its major highways, which translates into a poky 62 mph. Ever seen a line of tractor trailers (each governed to 105 km/h) passing a Nissan Micra going the speed limit in the right lane? It’s a painfully slow process, and an effective rolling roadblock. Impassioned pleas to raise the limit by even a tiny, wee amount have fallen on deaf ears.

So, what’s your take on all of this, Best and Brightest? Is your state’s highway speed limit a rational response to concerns about safety, timeliness and automotive endurance, or could it stand a nudge in the upward direction? Given the power, what would you change?

[Image: David Lofink/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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134 Comments on “QOTD: Are Speed Limits (Finally) Where They Should Be?...”


  • avatar

    “In our morning discussion here at TTAC, Indiana and Pennsylvania came up as the worst offenders for yawn-inducing drives”

    Obviously you guys have never driven through Kansas/Nebraska LOL

    • 0 avatar
      jefmad

      No kidding. That’s the first thing I thought, my thoughts may be influenced by the fact that I will be driving I-80 all the way across Iowa and Nebraska on Sunday.

      • 0 avatar
        Johnster

        Farther west in Wyoming, there’s an annoying stretch of I-80 where they have a “seasonally adjusted” speed limit from something like September to May, supposedly because of winter weather. I have never driven that stretch of I-80 when it was not dry as a bone, but the “seasonally adjusted” speed limit says in effect.

        It’s a several hundred mile long speed trap.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      Kansas and Nebraska typically have higher speed limits, immediately making them more tolerable.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      I-10 from LA/TX state line to El Paso. 875 miles, much of it nothing. You can go as fast as you dare but you will still be in one state for a whole day.

    • 0 avatar
      MrCornfed

      Oh man, Kansas. I drove from CA to NC in 2015 and the worst stretch, by far, was Kansas. Flat, windy, straight.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      When I drove through Kansas it was anything but boring.

      The wind was so powerful that I passed several semis that had literally been blown off the highway.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    I live in Ontario. The problem here is that you never really know what the “real” speed limit is. Posted at 100, but you are extremely unlikely to get a ticket on the 401 doing 120 if traffic is light – that’s probably the average speed.

    I spent some months in New Zealand, and much preferred their system of setting adequately high limits (maybe even a bit too high on some roads?), but then actually enforcing the limit as, you know, the limit.

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      Agree. I dislike the current soft limits system. Raise the speed limits to the absolute limit of safety based on road design and science, taking into consideration modern vehicles and modern tires. Then enforce that limit absolutely. 4/mph over = automatic ticket.

      Many interstates in the USA can safely support traffic at 85-105mph, especially out west. Couple this with a rigorous driver education/licensing system and a bi-yearly vehicle safety inspections. If you fail either, your not allowed on the interstates.

      • 0 avatar
        DukeGanote

        @redliner: Driver training in Germany is useless. All research shows that hands-on experience rapidly supplants test-based training. Furthermore there are foreigners who don’t go through the ridiculously-expensive German driver’s ed who’ve quite successfully driving the autobahn — including American service members and families. (And me :) It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to (1) mash the accelerator, (2) drive-right / pass-left, (3) check the rear/side mirrors, and (4) adhere to the 3-second following-distance rule. Autobahn driving is easy.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Also from Ontario – I’ve passed cop cars doing a steady 116km/h (as indicated), under the assumption that I don’t qualify for points, and as such, am not worth their time. It’s worked so far. But hopefully if they won’t raise the limits to civilized standards, they at least won’t institute photo radar as has been talked about (that might finally get me to revolt).

      • 0 avatar
        Giltibo

        In Ontario, I’ve never gotten bothered by any cop on any 400-series highway up to 120 km/h. (Actually, that’s the speed I set my cruise control at) as long as the traffic and road conditions allow. On these highways, I’ve read somewhere that, out of rush hour, the average speed on the 400s is 127 km/h.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      YellowDuck – over the years speed limits in British Columbia have bounced up and down based upon political whim. A few years ago they were upped. Some freeways are now 120 kph (75 mph). Some of the better rural 4 lane stretches of highway went up to 110 kph.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Out West here things are largely where they need to be on the interstates, 75 mph and you don’t bother me when I’m driving 82 mph.

    Now when you get close to or cross the Mississippi River and limits drop to 65 or sometimes less I want to tear my hair out. Let those ponies run! I didn’t buy a nearly 300 hp family vehicle to drive like its 1985.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s funny. My car only has 167 hp and it does those speeds fine too.

      What you need, sir, are some twisty roads. High-speed Interstates aren’t what you want. Roads with curves are what you want.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Back in 1985 there were popularly priced V8 powered family sedans that didn’t make 167 hp. At least when the speed limit was 55 and your car was lucky to make 150 hp, most of them didn’t want to go faster than about 65 mph due to a combination of lack of power, gearing, and poor aerodynamics.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I generally go with the flow of traffic. If everyone is going 80, you should be going 80, and you’ll not convince me that this isn’t the safest course of action. I’ve been on 435 in Kansas City going 85 because everyone else was and you never see anyone pulled over.

    I’m fortunate to live in an area where enforcement is pretty lax, so unless you really hang it out there you should be fine. Our interstates are all set at 70 and most people push 80 with regularity. I go see my parents once a week, 55 miles away and when I get out of town, I set my cruise at 78. I pass a few, a few pass me. Seems like a happy medium. My parents, from the generation of the double nickle, are convinced I’m going to be arrested for speeding.

    Visited North Carolina last year, and was very frustrated driving on their interstates. Not only crowded, but speed enforcement must be a thing there because nobody seemed willing to go more than 1-2 mph over the limit. So some guy would tailgate me, make a huge effort to pass then slow down and suddenly be up in my grill. I saw this repeatedly from coastal Carolina all the way back to Asheville. Nice state though. We had a great time.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    People are always going to try and get away with 5-10 mph over the posted limit. So here in Florida, that means the traffic is usually moving at 75-80 mph–which is plenty fast enough. The problem is when drivers hog the left lane, set the cruise to 65-70 mph and refuse to move over, causing a traffic jam behind them, irritating other drivers, and contributing to the growing road rage epidemic.

    Let’s just get on with the autonomous car thing already and be done with lane hogs. I’m ready to cruise with my feet up, catch up on my reading of the classics, and be done worrying about idiots texting behind the wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      If your that ready to give up on automobiles and the freedom that comes with navigating one you are probably on the wrong forum.
      Perhaps you should just sell your vehicle and let Uber take you everywhere. I’m not being condescending by saying that but that’s the vibe you are putting off.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Mason,
        Commuting in traffic 2 hours a day – as many people do – does not constitute driving pleasure. You can use an AV for that, as well as getting the kids to/from LAX practice, and also have a fun car for weekend jaunts. And taking an Uber does not necessitate giving up your car enthusiast card.

        • 0 avatar
          mason

          Commuting in traffic 2 hours a day would be miserable wether you were a driver or a passenger. Time to find another job or move closer to your place of employment. That’s alot of time out of your life that your not being compensated for.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Some people don’t have much choice. If you have 3 kids and want them in a specific school system, for example. But with AVs, you could get work done, relax, etc.

            I imagine having an AV van complete with exercise equipment and bathroom. I could roll out of bed into my AV van; get in my morning workout, shower and dress in the car. Leave work an hour earlier than usual, work in the car and get home in time for dinner with the family.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            VoGo, it sounds like your commuting two hours each way. I don’t know how you do it (even if it is 2 hours total). I’d never cut it. Excercised, showered, and dressed all while going down the road in an AV, that’s some real George Jetson stuff right there! I hope I don’t see it in my lifetime. Society has just gotten too dang fast as it is. I miss the simpler times in life.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        No, mason, you’re definitely being condescending.

        I don’t get how an autonomous vehicle =/= freedom, but normal driving having to limit your actions because of the confederacy of dunces you share the road with (you know, the person who refuses to accelerate past 2500rpm to merge on the highway, or the one who taps the brake like they’re doing Morse code, or [INSERT COMMON AGGREVATION HERE]), well man, that’s exactly what William Wallace was fighting for. To live your life controlled by other people instead of a computer.

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        @mason

        I’m as big of an auto enthusiast as anyone on this forum and it shows just looking at what’s currently sitting in my driveway. That said, I’d gladly hang up my keys in exchange for knowing that my kids will no longer be at the mercy of every asshat in a superduty pickup who thinks they’re in an F1 race car, or every other dingus on the road whose texting is more important than my family’s safety.

        If your idea of fun is sitting in traffic or being thrust into dangerous situations by reckless idiots, then maybe you’re in the wrong forum because that’s not how most of us developed an appreciation of cars.

        What’s to say I can’t enjoy the ride in my new autonomous luxobarge as I watch the scenery float by out the window knowing I’m safe in my daily interstate work commute, while still enjoying my Z3 Roadster on low-traffic secondary roads or running my autocross beater on the weekend? What vibe does that put off? Sensible? Maybe not. Maybe we should just 86 seatbelts so we can all have the freedom to fly through the windshield the next time another driver does something stupid.

        • 0 avatar
          mason

          “what vibe does this put off?”

          My response was to the last paragraph in your first post, “Let’s just get on with the autonomous car thing already and be done with lane hogs. I’m ready to cruise with my feet up, catch up on my reading of the classics, and be done worrying about idiots texting behind the wheel.”

          So which is it, are you all for the autonomous gig so you don’t have to worry about idiots in BMW’s pretending to be speed racer on the weekends or not? You are quite contradictory in your thought process that you feel you deserve to be able to freely choose wether or not you drive while the rest of society plays George Jetson.

          I also never said my idea of fun is sitting in traffic. Being a passenger doesn’t make that process any less painful. No matter how you slice it your devoting hundreds of hours a year sitting in a vehicle. No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      Jerome10

      It has been shown (a web search should pull up plenty of evidence) that people do not try to always get away with 5-10mph over the limit. This is simply false yet is trotted out constantly for reasons not to raise the limit.

      People drive at the speeds they feel comfortable. Limits have little to do with it. If most people are driving 75-80 then the speed limit should be set somewhere around that number. Dropping it to 55 for example, will still have most people going 75-80. All the limit does is create dangerous driving situations, and “speeders” with the resulting jack up in insurance rates because it’s “dangerous”.

      Or go drive in Germany. Sure you can go as fast as you want on many stretches. However, you’ll quickly notice most vehicles keeping right at about 130-140km/h (80-85mph or so). That is the speed they’re comfortable at, so that is what they drive.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Keeping in mind that my experience on the autobahn is now almost 40 years old, I recall the highway had separate speed limits for each lane, with the far right (being left-hand drive in Germany) running the lowest speed of roughly 100kph or about 62mph. These weren’t set in stone but rather guides, telling the driver if they wanted to run slow, keep to the right, middle speeds (up to about 80mph) in the middle lane and ‘unlimited’ (typically between 80-100) in the left lane.

        What was a courtesy in Germany at the time was that anyone coming up quickly on slower traffic in their lane would flash their headlights two or three times and, where possible, the slower traffic would move right to let them pass (excepting if they were already in the right lane.) Unfortunately, here in the States, flashing your lights isn’t a courtesy; the person you’re flashing at will consider you a self-important pr|ck instead and may be so rude as to intentionally stay in the faster lane longer than necessary. It’s a totally different world behind the wheel, here in the States.

        People drive at the speeds they are comfortable? HAH! If I didn’t set my cruise control, I’d be driving 80mph or faster myself, even in my Jeep Renegade–or maybe especially so since that car seems to WANT to go faster. I drive using cruise control for the express purpose of keeping my speed DOWN to manage the best speed for range and endurance; the faster I go, the more tense I get and I tire far more quickly. What’s really funny though is that when I did a 2000 mile trip cross-country, I set my cruise at 62mph (speed limits were 55) and maintained a steady speed. During that drive I got passed no less than seven times in a 600-mile stretch by the same car. Yes, one car passed me seven times and I know it was the same car because it was the same license plate for at least the last four times and from the same state the first three times–in the same color paint and stripes. Sure, it MIGHT have been three or four different cars that all happened to be identical but even then they all passed me at effectively the exact same speed and had near-identical drivers in every one. The odds are heavily against multiple different cars.

        The question though was this… If I was driving so slowly this person was passing me at 80mph or faster… where was that car going that I would never visibly pass them? Were they only getting 100 miles per tank of gas while I was managing right at 25mpg on a V8 engine or nearly 400 miles per tank (with a quarter-tank reserve)? I made that 2000 miles in 48 hours counting all stops–including an 8-hour layover to actually sleep at a motel. Not the fastest trip in the world, certainly, but for a lone driver still effective. And no speeding tickets.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          The general populace of Northwest Ohio is too scared to pull out of the garage, much less drive with any authority!!!

          Just getting to the freeway is frustrating, with the mind-numbed drones only caring about the underposted numbers on the sign! Adaptive Cruise is a blessing here, except in school zones, which fall 2mph below my ACC’s threshold!

          Then, entering the freeway! These same drones can’t get above 50mph by onramp’s end if their lives depended on it (and the lives of those behind said jackwagons often are shortened a bit, having to come to a dead stop to avoid an oncoming semi)!

          Then these same morons get right over into the far-left lane and set the cruise right on the damn numbers! Extra points in Heaven for them, I suppose, if they pull out in front of ONE OTHER VEHICLE in the left lane with a ZIP Code’s worth of space behind them, then proceed to take two minutes to overtake, with bonus points earned for an ABS activation on the vehicle they just cut off!

          I do around 72mph on all freeways, and 80 or a little over if I’m driving between major cities. I’ve gone right past an Ohio State Trooper running LIDAR at 72 or so more times than I can count! If people would get their “nine you’re fine, ten you’re mine” meme through their self-righteous skulls (or if Ohio would raise all freeway speed limits to 70mph), it would be a more pleasant place to drive!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @e30gator

      I don’t find that to be true at all. In Maine, when the speed limit was 65, the majority of traffic went 75. When it was upped to 70, the majority still go 75. On the section that is now 75, yup, most people go 75. There are a few “low flying aircraft” but for most people 75 seems to be the comfortable speed on the open road across the country.

      Now commute time near cities is another matter all-together. Then it seems to be 85-90+ or congested, not much in-between.

      Personally, I prefer 80 or so. And was perfectly happy in Germany at 130-155. :-)

  • avatar
    madman2k

    I propose that any stretch of interstate without any major hills or tight curves, and where exits are more than 10 miles apart, should have the speed limit set to 100mph.

    Around cities with frequent exits, I don’t think anything over 70 is wise.

    Here in OKC, they are mostly 60mph around the city but traffic tends to go at least 70.

    I got a ticket for going 77 last year, but if I hadn’t been in the left lane (where the cop was parked and waiting) I might not have even gotten pulled over.

    It was on a part of I-40 near downtown where you can’t see the cop until you’ve come around the corner and it’s too late.

    Considering the state of many people’s cars and especially their tires, I don’t think any speed limit here should be over 100, and even then I’d be concerned about an overloaded vehicle on tires with 0 life remaining having a blowout and taking out a bunch of other vehicles with a rollover.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      Yeah those asshat OKC cops love their radar traps on the crosstown. Go over to the Kirkpatrick and the state HiPos will nail you for 73.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “should have the speed limit set to 100mph.”

      Problem with that is that some drivers will try to drive at that speed while their cars/tires/suspension may no longer be up to the task.

      I cruised I-80 Westbound at over 100mph from Tooele to the NV state line in a 2012 Grand Cherokee when it was all-new. Speed limit was 75mph on I-80.

      But I would not do that in a vehicle with both time and miles on it. Tires are usually the first to fail, but worn suspensions can mean loss of control at speed, and water pumps, PS pumps and AC compressors have been known to explode at such high rpm.

      Who wrote that the top 10% of performance causes 90% of wear?

      I found most highway cops let a driver get away with 10-15 miles over the limit, unless they have been specifically instructed to raise funds by mining the highway.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I know the “statewide” limit in IL is probably reasonable, but in Chicagoland it’s still stupid. I take I-90 inbound from 53 to O’Hare every day, and it’s marked for 55, and I cruise 75-80. And I am right in the flow of traffic. Plus this stretch was just redone, is big, broad, and beautiful, 4-5 lanes and relatively uncongested around 745 when I’m driving in. There’s NO REASON this stretch should be 55.

    And don’t even get me started on the absurd 45mph construction zone limit, whether or not workers are present (24/7). Absolutely ridiculous, especially when all the workers are in the median behind Jersey barriers and such.

    • 0 avatar
      LS1Fan

      From the view of the local cops & government officials, a 55 MPH limit is probable cause on a silver platter.

      Latino dude in a Porsche? Pull him over- It’s not profiling if he was speeding,right ? Never mind that no sane person intent on a long retirement drives less then 70 on an uncongested Chicago area interstate.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        Exactly..the civil liberties crowd should be all over this crap.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          At 9pm on a September Sunday last year, the traffic was moving right around 80 from I-35 clear to the Veteran’s Memorial Tollway.

          The exception was two groups of crotch-rocketeers who blasted by at what had to have been 130, along with a last-generation GTI doing around a buck-ten!

          Actually, on that trip between Toledo and Minneapolis, the left-lane bandits seemed to disappear going through Indiana, and certainly by the time I hit Illinois, but even through Wisconsin and into Minnesota, the speeds stayed in the upper 70s to 80. Left-lane bandits in Wisconsin were sporting, for the most part, OHIO plates!

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      Yup. It’s all about the $$$.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Jack covered this pretty well not long ago – https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/01/no-fixed-abode-three-reckless-ops-day/#more-1482625

      He makes a persuasive case.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It’s going to be hard to top yesterday’s QOTD – that was a lot of fun!

    Today’s QOTD?

    I really don’t give it too much thought for a very good reason: My eyesight and what it’s done to my reflexes and reaction time while driving and in all other areas of life, for what that’s worth.

    Generally during my commute where the limit is 65, I stay in the curb lane with cruise set at 63 and that works for me, with occasional speed-ups when necessary to avoid traffic bunching.

    When on the road traveling, I’ll do at least the speed limit to a point, but doubt I could be comfortable sustaining 75 mph over the long haul out west. Haven’t had to test that since my eye went bad.

    As to the speed limits in general, from what I see and experience on the road, the speed limit is more a suggestion than a “limit”, especially for knuckleheads driving pickup trucks and service vehicles (Crown Lift Trucks – I’m looking at you).

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    “Is your state’s highway speed limit a rational response to concerns about safety”

    No.

    NY is a joke. No reason interstate speed limit should not be at least 70. Then increase by 5 m.p.h. increments each year until good weather speed limits outside metro areas hits “safe and prudent”

    • 0 avatar
      True_Blue

      You could have led off with the first sentence in your last paragraph and been entirely correct.

      The Thruway limited to 65 is the punchline to an entirely masochistic riddle. The road is in relatively good shape, with gentle curves and open sightlines. Lanes are wide and have shoulders on both sides, the righthand shoulder being a full lane wide.

      In 2017 even the lowliest Aveo can run 75 mph in safety.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “In 2017 even the lowliest Aveo can run 75 mph in safety.”

        For how long?

        • 0 avatar
          threeer

          Until the tank runs out of fuel?

          Kidding, of course. But it’s true. Just about any car for sale these days can manage 75 MPH cruising speed. I’ve even seen a few smart cars out on the interstate running at those speeds.

          • 0 avatar
            Zackman

            “I’ve even seen a few smart cars out on the interstate running at those speeds.”

            I’ve seen those guys, and it scares the willies out of me imagining myself in one!

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          About 17 minutes.

          Several years ago I drove a rental Aveo at freeway speeds for a couple of hours here in Michigan. I don’t mind small cars, but man, that thing got upset when passed by big trucks.

          Possible, but not enjoyable.

        • 0 avatar
          True_Blue

          Heh. More of a question into the driver’s intestinal fortitude than the Korean runabout’s wee mechanicals.

          I75 merging with a Fiat 500 rental was puckering.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Meh, I’ve had base 500 rentals in Dallas a few times, was the reason I bought an Abarth. No issues at all – put your foot to the floor and keep it there. 100hp in those is WAY faster than my ’82 Subaru was back in the day, never mind some of the real slugs I have owned like diesel Pugs and Mercedes.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I see, True_Blue; the Fiat 500 was so quick it frightened you, right?

            Believe me, 0-80mph in a Fiat 500 ain’t as slow as you think. My little 500 Pop surprised people every day by how quickly it could get around.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    In the EU I think the speed limit on all the big highways is 130km/h, or ~81 MPH. I found that to be perfect. I was actually staying behind people and flowing with traffic rather than jumping from herd to herd.

    Low speed limits would be a lot more livable if folks exercised any form of lane discipline whatsoever. Just this morning I passed a train of about 20 left lane campers. The real issue is Americans are just generally not great drivers. Increasing the speed limit would exacerbate that issue.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I was on the autobahn in Germany a month ago and most people seemed to go between 80 and 100 MPH. However everyone over there actually stays in the correct lane, IE: left is passing only, trucks stay right. 80 MPH seems reasonable to me in the US, anything over that is getting scary given the crap condition of many cars I’ve seen (bald tires, loose body panels, mirrors held on with duct tape). I know people who hate car inspections but in Florida I think they need to make a comeback. Well as long as my high flow cats pass the sniff test.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Yea the car condition issue is another fly in this ointment. I don’t know what it will take for Americans or American LEOs to take driving and road safety seriously. Americans loathe driving and LEOs seem to only care about generating revenue (at least until an accident happens).

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Visit a state that has safety inspections – it will change your mind. I used to think it was a great idea, but seeing the poor condition of some cars that pass anyway makes me think it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          No state does safety inspections right. For the most part in the US they are a grift exercise for mechanics. Our models for safety inspections should be Germany and Japan.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Inspections are definitely not implemented well in many (all?) states that have them. My experience with them was in MA, where you are almost certain to pass as long as you don’t have cords showing in the tires, unless the inspector was having a bad day and fails you for the parking brake.

            Population centers in Germany and Japan typically have better public transportation than in the US. In those countries, if your car doesn’t pass, you probably have other options. The US is car dependent, and inspections as severe as Germany and Japan would be rough on the working poor.

            Maybe that’s too bad and not having the money to repair the car doesn’t mean they get to endanger the rest of us, but I’m not sure mechanical failure due to poor maintenance causes a significant percentage of accidents anyway. My quick search did not turn up any useful statistics one way or another. Of course that’s meaningless if the one accident caused by sloppy maintenance happens to impact your family.

            Stricter inspections would certainly improve the condition of the fleet, though it has a social cost. It might or might not be worth it; I don’t know. It seems like no one else knows either, and that’s why it is so inconsistently (or not at all) implemented.

          • 0 avatar
            kefkafloyd

            I’ve been a driver in Mass, and I’ve only had trouble with safety inspections twice.

            One, my local mechanic flagged me for a bad tie-rod, but he said “Come in and get it fixed and we’ll get it re-stickered by the end of the month.” I tend to keep my tires, brakes, etc in good condition, but suspension components are hard to check on a regular basis and I’m not that skilled at diagnosing them to begin with.

            The other time was when the airbag light came up on my Trans Am. This was almost impossible to fix, even the dealer couldn’t suss out what was wrong with it. But when they put it back together, the light went out, and I passed. A few months later, it would return intermittently. My guess is that the clockspring was bad. I never truly fixed it, that was my signal to stop spending any money on that car and buy my new one. Now my current car is six years old and a sticker is simply routine.

            Really depends on the mechanic though, some are more dishonest than others.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    In CA the CHP generally wont stop you for speeding unless your going over 80. In remote places like I70 in Utah I pretty much go as fast as I want in my 335d, which can effortlessly maintain a 120 mph cruise. On our last road trip we drove the 1200 miles from Parker CO to Thousand Oaks CA in 13.5 hours, only stopped twice for fuel, and averaged 30 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      Yep. In light traffic–rare–I set the cruise control at 79 and try to stay out of the fast lane. When everybody is going balls-to-the-wall the rule of thumb is “don’t be the fastest guy in the fast lane” and its corollary “let the other guy find the speed trap.”

      Oh, and erratic, dangerous maneuvers will get the CHP’s attention.

      • 0 avatar
        Felix Hoenikker

        This!
        Rule Two: Surgery – good for the other guy.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Better to be the fastest guy in the left lane than passing everyone on the right and having to change lanes to maintain speed.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Look for brake lights. People slow down when they see a cop, you can often see the brake lights a mile away. Hopefully cops won’t bother setting up speed traps in places with sufficiently rare traffic that this doesn’t work.

        Of course I live in Maryland where they’d probably yank my license if they knew I was aware of more than 10′ in front of my car…

  • avatar
    Alcolawl

    I think highway speed limits, at least in my region (Tri-state area), could be raised to 70 or 75. Nearly everyone drives that speed on their commute to begin with. There will always be, unfortunately, a large chunk of drivers that refuse to even approach the current speed limits to begin with. This is a huge cause of congestion in the first place. People are simply too scared of driving or too distracted to do so properly. Pair this with 18-wheelers and the speed limit starts to become irrelevant. You can raise it all you’d like but you won’t be getting anywhere faster and the local/state police departments won’t be writing as many revenue generating speeding tickets.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The trucks in Ohio add to the problem! Nothing grinds my gears more than when a trucker jumps out into the left lane (especially if some chowderhead lets them in)!

      Kentucky, however, is another story! Seventy-five in the left lane!

      In a torrential downpour!

      Two extremes! No middle ground!

  • avatar
    arach

    I think its horrible.

    the “Speed Limit” is a silly “One-Size Fits All” policy that doesn’t make sense.

    your telling me a race car driver in a ferrari can’t safely commute faster than a 80 year old who can barely see driving a 20,000 LB RV?

    then throw in modern technology, AEB, SCC, V2V, and V2I and you want to suggest to me that a car with those technologies can’t safely traverse speeds faster than a 20 year old semi-truck?

    I think its 2017, and we should act like it. Speed limits should vary depending on variables and vehicle types.

    I’m not advocating that one person drives 200 and one drives 25, but you also can’t tell me that the left lane on a straight long highway with SCC activated is unsafe at slightly higher speeds than curvy roads in a snowstorm in 20,000 lb vehicle.

    I always used to think you should be able to apply for an “advanced” drivers license, which would lead you to being able to put a green light on your car, allowing you to exceed the speed limit by say 25% in the farmost 2 lanes of a highway. The advanced drivers would be more like understanding limits of vehicle, and how to DRIVE (not just how to follow laws). That doesn’t mean it has to be incredibly challenging.

    Maybe a more modern interpretation of this would be via V2I and V2V.

    I think they should lift the speed limits in left lanes with vehicles activating V2I and V2V interfacing. That would spur on early adopters from taking on the brundt of the V2I and V2V costs, likely improve safety, and help people get from point a to point b quicker.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      It is interesting that 70 / 75 was considered “safe” when we had drum brakes, bias ply tires, and no restraints (passive or active). Although my view is that people were generally more skilled at driving back then too.

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        True. When I got my license at 16 in 1968 the family car was a 64 Impala sedan. Tennessee interstate speed limit was 75 mph on I40. My dad would let me drive on trips from Memphis to Nashville at the speed limit. The car was ok on handling but I remember my dad saying things can happen awfully fast when going this speed.

        I just drove round trip from Memphis to Nashville over the weekend in my 07 Impala. I usually lock the cruise at 77 which is very comfortable. A speed of 85 would not be uncomfortable in light traffic in that car, or any late model car or pickup.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Speed deltas matter more than anything else. If you are going 75 in 60 mph traffic you a problem. Doing 80mph in 80mph traffic? No problem.

      Also don’t overestimate what a performance car can really do. Look up Jack Baruth’s article on driving a Toyota Camry 4 cylinder on a track if you don’t believe me. The bigger difference comes down to the tires: ABS brakes simply level the road between cars – fancy brakes just mean you can brake hard on this turn, then the next, then the next. Quick stopping should be the same across the road.

      You can get going faster in a performance car no problem. Getting out of trouble, not so much.

      * I did like Clarkson’s “15mph and blinking lights” idea for drunk driving, but in practice you should probably either ride a bike** or you are too drunk for 15mph. You also need roads that allow passing such a drive with ease.

      ** I really hope nobody tickets a bicycle rider for drunk driving. You *can* hurt a pedestrian, but it isn’t easy. I’m sure MADD would push for it.

  • avatar
    DukeGanote

    Dear choir members: freeway speed limits are set for revenue generation rather than safety. Sure, like the Ohio Turnpike Director, you can claim we dare not increase the 70-mph limit because who wants a mad trucker driving 75-mph in the rain beside you? However that’s arguing that the speed limit should be set to accommodate winter wipeouts and ramp rollovers… Simply a set up for summer straightaway speed enforcement binges. And interstates have the lowest fatality and speed-related fatality rates anyways.

    Of course 80-mph generally, with 60-mph when wet and 40-mph when wintry is just beyond comprehension when revenue is at stake.
    http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/23000/23100/23121/12SpeedCountsNumbers.pdf

  • avatar
    whitworth

    There shouldn’t be a 55mph speed limit anywhere really.
    If it’s safe enough to do 55, it’s safe enough to make it 75mph.

    On lower speed limits like 45mph and below, I’m fine for the most part. The area I travel in largely leaves you alone if you stay with 10mph of the speed limit.

    My biggest complaint on the freeways/highways is when they don’t post enough signs and they bounce around from 65 to 75mph.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    AVs will be here long before state legislatures get rational about speed limits.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    I’m mixed on this.

    I live in a state with 80 MPH limits. All is not well in paradise however. That 80 MPH limit applies to the Bondurant trained AMG driver in equal measure to the stoned teenager texting her BFF in the left lane.

    Which means if someone f–ks up , they’ll be calling the coroner instead of an ambulance. The reason the German autobahn works is because their licensing is much stricter.

    Raising speed limits alone only raises the risks. It should be tied to a commensurate raise in license issuing standards. If I were King, we’d have a graduated license system in place similar to old school PS1 Gran Turismo.

    Want to do 100 MPH on the interstate? Cool by me- but you won’t be doing it in a 15 year old Civic with bald tires and an EBay turbo kit. Go take a professional driving course and bring a squared away car. A used German car with 500 stored fault codes doesn’t count.

    Pay a nominal ,non excessive fee and you get the E ticket license and plates to match.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      “If I were King, we’d have a graduated license system in place similar to old school PS1 Gran Turismo”

      All gold member here… so bravo!

      I also drive my car on track and instruct at HPDE events. The problem is I have to share the road with texting fools in unloved cars. Sadly track experience doesn’t transfer well to your typical highway situation. On the track everyone is doing the same thing, in the same direction with corner workers (flag stands) and clear hand signals. On the highway its a free-for-all with sleepy, drunk or other wise confused motorist changing lanes at random. Very little about brake zones, weight transfer and apexes help deal with that nonsense.

      However I do agree our current license system is a joke. During my license test (back in the mid 80s) I never got out of 3rd gear due to being on typical ubran streets. It was more like a parking test then a “driving” test. I basically drove around the block and parked near some cones. My first time on the highway going 60 MPH surrounded by multiple vehicles doing random speeds was S C A R Y.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Four right-hand turns around a college campus and a parallel park and I was officially licensed to drive in the state of TN (granted, this was back in 1987). Frightening to think of now, and I wonder how well (or not) my parents slept most nights with that knowledge.

    • 0 avatar
      Rnaboz

      +10
      I have been preaching this for the last 20 years!

  • avatar
    ajla

    My ideal:

    -75MPH interstate/divided highway
    -Unrestricted toll roads (raise the toll rates too)
    -Leave non highway limits alone

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Last summer, I drove from Nevada to Michigan to Tennessee, then back to Nevada.

    My observation was that where speed limits are reasonable, people tend to drive not much above them. Either that or people simply don’t feel comfortable driving faster than about 85mph.

    In areas with an 80mph speed limit, where people could probably get away with 90 easily, they didn’t. In the 80mph zones, most folks were driving 82-85mph. It is my belief that most people, and/or most cars, simply aren’t comfortable driving faster than 85mph.

    I contend that, outside of urban and particularly hilly or curvy stretches, the speed limit should be 80mph on the interstates.

    But that would put the Troopers out of business, and that’s bad for state coffers.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Speak for yourself. I was once pulled over in Utah for doing 90 mph in a 1983 Mercury Zephyr with an Inline 6.

      He asked if I knew how fast I was going. I said that I did not, since my speedometer only went to 85.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      At least in some states 80 zones are enforced more strictly than others. I received a ticket two years ago for doing 89 in a 80 in Idaho.

      • 0 avatar

        dal20402 is right – it seems the higher the limit goes, the smaller the safe threshold for exceeding it. Wyoming raised the Interstate limit from 75 to 80 a few years back (and has since followed on some stretches of state highway, too), with the explicit understanding they were doing so to eliminate the “soft” limit.

        When the limit was 75, you were typically OK up to 82-84. Since they raised the limit to 80, you are typically OK up to… 82-84.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I don’t feel comfortable sustaining speeds faster than 85mph; I don’t trust the road maintenance. A surprise pothole or patch of uneven pavement can be unpleasant at that speed.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    On divided highways with more than 2 lanes going each way, simply remove the speed limits. Let natural selection have its way.

    On 2 lane highways all transport trucks should be prohibited from leaving the right hand lane. Nothing worse than a long line of vehicles stuck behind one truck which has pulled out to try and pass 2 others who are travelling about 5 mph slower than its maximum speed.

    Yes, many collisions are the result of someone driving too fast. But if the left hand lane has no limit than those drivers would not be changing lanes, moving in and out of traffic and therefore it would reduce their chances of causing a collision.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Natural selection = a soccer mom with a minivan full of kids being taken out by some punk kid in a “modded” Honda doing 100+ mph?

      No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I agree about the trucks and overtaking (or attempting)!

      I love the video I saw last year where a cop pulled in behind a left-lane bandit, hit his lights, and when the other driver started to pull over, he turned the lights off, got back in the left lane, and continued on!

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    My mileage takes a hit at anything over 65, so that’s where I’ll stay for anything commute shorter than 45 minutes, but I (currently) have no problem with people passing me at 75, 80, or more. I’m happy as long as I’m going at least a mile a minute.

    • 0 avatar
      Corollaman

      hear hear!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. Higher speed limits take a non-linear toll on fuel economy, tire wear, engine life, and blood pressure.

      Driving the speed limit also means you never have to look for cops.

      I can speed like anyone else, but it’s becoming less logical to do so.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I’m not sure about blood pressure. I find it frightening to be at the speed limit in the right lane while being passed by 95% of traffic, some of it at a large speed differential.

        I feel safer and more comfortable traveling with the faster traffic. At the very least it keeps most of the potential problems in front of me.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          “I’m not sure about blood pressure.”

          I am. Right lane, 5-over for me (unless the limit’s 70).

          Let the heathens blow on buy. I’d rather pass a wreck than be part of it.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I agree with burgersandbeer. I like having most of the action in front of me rather than in my mirrors. The most comfortable place is in the flow of faster traffic.

          Depends on the car, too. My former Forester was most comfortable around 60-65. My LS460 prefers 75-80.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Yes!

          • 0 avatar
            DukeGanote

            50-mph in the right lane, 85-mph in the left is a *trivial* speed differential compared to even a 25-mph two-lane, two-directional road, let alone on a 55-mph two-laner. Yet where do people get their panties in a pucker?

  • avatar
    ArialATOMV8

    Overall, I find Speed Limits too low extremely too low. (what do you expect coming from a young driver lol). It feels like they were developed for old rust buckets than the more common cars seen today (dull Toyota Camry lol)Speed does not matter, all that does is your ability to handle your car. I bet even with rusty death traps, from Professional drivers to inexperienced, they should feel the lack of controlability and, take the corner at a lower speed.

    You also have to consider attention needed for maintaining a higher speed. I’m pretty sure a majority of crashes are caused by distractions. at a higher speed, you need more concentration and the adrenaline rush of that red-line roar gives you more focus than being that old slow dinosaur who goes 40 under the speed limit just because, they do not feel comfortable driving faster

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    It was a huge relief when the 55 went away in 1995. When I started driving, the 55 was the law, and I had to put up with it for 18 years. When I was a kid, the Interstates here in Texas had 70 daytime/65 night signs.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Yeah, and some [email protected]§§ cop pulled me over for doing 71, three hours after the sun had been up.

      Oh, and my 1993 Taurus looked like a “typical drug dealer’s car” didn’t help. Yes sir, my Escalade had a flat tire this morning and my baby momma took off in my Cutlass. So, I had to use this Taurus to sell crack to 4th graders.

      Texas highway cops tend to be a§§holes in my experience. I now avoid Texas as much as possible, and its not because I’m doing anything illegal. I just have no desire to be f’ed with for no reason whatsoever.

      Like being told “visually” to pull over as I’m coming towards a cop on I-10. The reason? The license plate on the *back* of my car was “unclean”.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    My state has 80 mph freeways on the long rural stretches, 70 mph in urban zones. I like it, but traffic is the limiting factor on speed more than the speed limit. You can be 20 miles from a town and still be unable to exceed 70 because someone just doesn’t want to treat the left lane as a passing lane. So many terrible, inattentive drivers ruining traffic flow. Throw in the tractor trailer supremacy wars with 0.25mph closing speeds and sometimes that 80 mph limit is a distant, distant hope.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The only place where I have been (including two X-country trips in the past year plus a lot of time driving in the American West states like Montana, Wyoming, Utah, etc.) that speed limits seem silly low is right around The Capital of the Free World, aka Washington DC. The Capital Beltway and assorted interstates running radially outward (I-95; I-270) are speed limited at 55. Other than in rush hour, where traffic is the speed limit, no one goes 55 on those roads. By my rough estimate, the 60th percentile speed is about 62-63. The slowest that you can go without being a road hazard is about 60 . . . in the right lane. So, I would humbly suggest that 60 be the posted limit.

    As for those people people who claim their “superior driving skills” should entitle them to triple-digit speed limits consider this: while you’re doing 100, Joe Average may be doing 70 or 75. You’re closing him from the rear at 25 or 30 mph. That’s fast. So, when he pulls out to pass a lumbering semi working up a grade at 55 and checks his rear view mirror, he may not see you coming up behind him on a curve, or even on a straight away. His ability to mentally calculate your closing distance from far away when you’re closing him fast may not be too good . . . through no fault of his.

    Oh, I know, you’re a superstud; and he should just be expected to wait until you pass him, if you’re at all visible in his rear view mirror. Meanwhile, about 5 other cars have also stacked up behind the lumbering semi, but of course all of them are supposed to wait for you, too, right?

    Here’s the deal, if you want a license that allows you to legally go 100, and also keeps all of the proles off the road who are dangerously going 70 or 75, you can pay for the road. Seems fair, right?

    Your not-so-humble author claims the unofficial door-to-door record for driving from the West End in DC (23rd & M Streets NW) to Dulles airport: 20 minutes. If memory serves, the distance is 27 miles. Of course, that was back in the mid-1980s when the Dulles Airport Access Road was not only empty of cars, it also was empty of law enforcement. Since the speedo in my car (Mustang 5 liter) only read to 85, I can only tell you that I was going considerably faster than that; the needle was pegged. However, I did slow down a bit when closing another vehicle from the rear. The road is fairly straight but does have some ups and downs that limit rear vision. I also used to cover the distance between my home in Bethesda and my mountain house in Canaan Valley, WV (210 miles) in 3 hours flat in both the Mustang and, later the Taurus SHO. There was a piece of that trip on a brand new piece of Interstate that, in those days was equally deserted. It was therefore necessary to make the most of that opportunity to compensate for congested I-70 at the eastern end of the trip and a considerable length of twisty 2-lane at the other end of my trip which was used by a lot of big trucks hauling coal. So, I have a little personal experience with triple digit speeds on a public highway.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Virginia is a really big problem. The 70mph rural limit is fine, but 80 gets you reckless driving, which is equivalent to a DUI, and there a cops everywhere.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    There are a number of factors that need to be realised in the setting of speed limits.

    On this site with the many car enthusiasts it is predictable most will deem most posted speed limits as slow.

    Another prevailing attitude is the view many have about their right to drive on public roads. Yhis attitude is similar to many with their rights to have guns.

    No one should have the right or consider it is a right to drive.

    It is an earnt privilage.

    On the other hand as many people should be encouraged to want the privilage to drive.

    So, using data, etc to determine the safest speeds at which we can drive sets speed limits.

    Most modern countries have variations, use common models in assessing this.

    The lowest common denominater on the road is generally the basis for speed limits.

    If seems countries that offer the best driver education have speed limits set higher, with a corresponding drop in fatalities. Like gun control.

    Australia had horrific semi and heavy truck accidents. Noe trucks are speed limited to 100kph similar to Canada. If one looks at the fatality data with heavy vehicles they have dropped, this occurred with the doubling of vehicle traffic.

    Remember, what you deem your right or freedom reduces the rights of others. Taking a life is the biggest loss of freedom.

    Governments have the responsibility to protect the freedom of all, on the road, shopping, flying, etc.

    If people want speed limits ti increase then they need to be adequately trained and assessed to better enable them to manage their freedom responsibly.

    Road fatalities in the US are way to high in comparison to its modern competitors.

    Canada’s road are much better and not verging on 3rd World numbers. It seems Canada is doing this better than the US.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I would be interested to see what happens if a state were to set up a standard for a ‘safe driver’ – some combination of completing an advanced driver safety course; a lack of tickets and accidents in the recent past; and a safety certified primary vehcile. They could then allow those safety certified drivers to drive on highways at a higher speed. I would also be curious to see what would happen to their insurance premiums.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Australia has quite low road fatalities, not the best and on average our cost of insurance is half that of the US.

        This same theory should apply to gun ownership. Australia has a very large gun and hunting community. Yet we don’t have the ridiculous deaths as the US. Because our laws are far more responible.

        We also have the same type of fools on the road as the US, but a lot less, because the penalties if you screw up are harsher. The same with our gun laws.

        As you can see I do believe gun and road laws have many parallels, because both can remove the ultimate freedom anyone has.

        The freedom to exist.

        • 0 avatar
          mason

          I wouldn’t consider forbidding Australian citizens from owning any type of semi auto pistol or rifle as “responsible”. Outlawing guns to prevent violence is like outlawing vehicles to prevent traffic fatalities. Neither guns nor cars kill people. I do completely agree however, that both laws and punishment regarding violence in the US are entirely anemic. We’ve lost our stones in that sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Mason,
            You must be an advocate of the NRA as you completely misrepresented my statement.

            But most NRA types fear, fear.

            Maybe you guys should learn to respect fear.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    There are a lot of reasons why speed limits in the US can’t be as high as those elsewhere.

    First, the design of many of our highways is lowest-bidder crap, with changing-radius, off-camber, and unexpectedly sharp turns. The condition is also crap in many places. Urban highways are even worse; they were mostly designed during the ’50s, a period where pretty much every idea about road design was wrong.

    Second, we don’t do anything to ensure that cars are capable of high speed. Inspections are nonexistent in some states and a joke in all the others. Tires are often mismatched and bald. Brakes may or may not work. Lights are often misaimed or burned out. We justify this to ourselves because in this country we are so spread out that even the poorest people, who can’t afford basic car maintenance, need cars — but it has a major impact on road safety and safe speeds.

    Third, we don’t train drivers in, or enforce, lane discipline. You may find a driver doing any speed in any lane. In that environment, large speed differentials really are a safety problem.

    Given the conditions in this country, I think the highest limit should be 80, and that only on straight rural interstates in perfect condition with perfect visibility. Any other condition should lead to lower limits. Curvy rural interstates or straight, wide urban interstates should be 70. Other urban freeways should be 60 or 50 depending on road design. Rural two-lanes should be 60 unless conditions dictate a lower speed. City streets should never be higher than 30 for pedestrian safety, and should be designed accordingly — the 35-45 mph four-lane “stroad,” so common in suburbs, is a lethal compromise that helps neither drivers nor pedestrians.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Thanks for the considered response, Dal. My answer would be the same, if I had your patience and eloquence. I don’t think it’s possible, in this country at this time, to have better driver’s ed and better maintained cars for two reasons. The first, as you mention, is that because of sprawl people have to drive to survive, so driving isn’t in fact a right, but a necessity our society simply cannot mitigate. Better driver’s ed would be great, but that means more “government and regulations” which is apparently anathema to “freedom.” 80 mph and scaffolding downwards accordingly seems like a workable compromise. I do drive faster, but i am taking multiple personal risks doing so, and won’t blame “the cops” if i get tickets.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      dal20402 – agreed. If one were to look just at pedestrian safety then speed limits would be 20 mph. Physiologically the human body can’t withstand a higher speed impact. School zones are 20 mph for that very reason.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Well, that’s why I think streets should either be pedestrian friendly (city streets) or closed to pedestrians (limited access highways). I would redesign an awful lot of non-highway arterials to have more frequent signalized crossings, narrower lanes, more sharply angled corners, and pedestrian buffers (like parked cars and planting strips). At the same time, where there aren’t pedestrians, I support making the limits relatively high. The world would be a better place if more rural highways had separate multi-use trails nearby.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    All interstates should be 80 mph because that means everyone will drive 90+ and since I never voluntarily exceed 70 the traffic will clear around me nice & fast.

    All lesser roads should be no more than 55 because there are always old, narrower and destroyed sections to traverse.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Virginia needs to get rid of the 80 MPH clause in the Reckless Driving statute.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve had multiple changes of heart on this question over the time I’ve been driving (35+ years). When I was young (and foolish-er) I couldn’t drive fast enough. A couple of decent accidents knocked that foolishness out of me.

    Many people bring up German driving customs, graduated licenses and a bunch of other things that non-enthusiasts couldn’t possibly care less about.

    I have a similar argument with my truck driving friends, where if they were able to go as fast as cars (or faster) they would make more money and goods would actually be cheaper. And yes, I’m ignoring several other factors here, but this is more of a drinks at a bar type of argument.

    My comeback to this is: We’d need to build a whole separate Interstate system in order to accommodate this. No one has the political or otherwise guts to get this done. It would be the same issue with the graduated license BS that comes up every time a post like this floated. There’s no way to do this in our country with the mix of vehicles, driving styles and attitudes that exist.

    Oh, so how does Germany do it?

    They have these safety inspections over there. If your car fails and cannot be satisfactorily repaired, guess what? It’s condemned and can’t be registered again. No arguments, no second chances. It’s the law and they live by it. Imagine that happening here in “I know better than everyone else, because Amurica”, USA.

    The Germans have better driver training for sure, but that alone isn’t the factor. During my time there, I was amazed at how people would get into the passing lane to pass and then… actually pass something! And after that, they got back into the driving lane again…

    Who in the Hell does that in the US? I have driven for two hours alongside a person in the far left lane of Interstate 80/90 through Ohio who was talking on the phone, while traffic piled up (and then repeatedly passed on the right) behind them. No lie, they were also drinking from a 7-11 Slurpie cup, too. It’s the worst stereotype of an American, possibly.

    As drivers in the US, we would have to undergo a radical change in our thinking. First of all, that speed limits are for ideal circumstances, not all kinds of driving. How many clowns have you seen on the first snow of the season in their AWD SUVs and pickups that are in the ditch because they thought they didn’t have to adjust to local conditions?

    We’d also have to recognize that we aren’t the only car on the road, or in some people’s minds, in the world. I get a lot of that when I’m crossing streets on my bicycle, that I should just stop in the middle of the crosswalk and wait for all the folks turning right on red lights because I’m apparently inconveniencing them in the some evil way.

    Speed limits are high enough. Not enough of us know or care about the laws, customs and our equipment. No two states treat car ownership the same and many don’t have inspections. It always thrills me when I drive into Detroit at the prevailing speed (~90 MPH, any time, any weather) and the car in the next lane has three temporary spares, one functioning headlight, rusty body panels flapping in the wind, plastic sheeting for the rear door window and someone on the cell phone at the same time as they are passing me. I chose Detroit as an example, but it has happened to me in many places, sometimes with less rust, though.

    Sorry, fellow US drivers. We (in aggregate) are too self-centered, occupied, stoned or just plain stupid to have much higher speed limits. I’m also part of this demographic. I wish I weren’t. I’m amazed that our annual traffic deaths aren’t higher. But I believe it’s because cars are safer and we have more and better emergency services than ever before.

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    This issue is much more complex than it seems.

    While most Interstate Highways are designed for 110 miles per hour, they are not built that way. A factor in setting the speed limit for a section of road is the amount of wear caused by actually driving on it. I know this may sound counter intuitive but heavy trucks do a lot of damage to roads and that damage goes up exponentially with speed. Setting different speeds for different vehicles can cause more accidents and this forces the speed to the lowest denominator in an effort to extend the life of the road. Another factor is the amount of damage a Big Rig can do in an accident goes up proportionally with speed. That’s one reason why Semis are much more likely to get pulled for minor speed infractions than are passenger vehicles.

    Most passenger vehicles for sale today can easily and safely cruse at 100 mph all day with out much effort but many drivers can’t. Out West for example, there are many sections of road that are not really patrolled and people that want to, can cook. No one really cares but there is a problem. Go off the road at 100 mph into the desert and you will probably roll your car trying to get back on the pavement. There is nothing to stop or even slow your car and the effects of rolling over and over can be horrific. I saw it all the time living in the SW.

    So while it appears that speed limits are just revenue generators, and certainly there is some of that, there is more to this story.

    • 0 avatar
      DukeGanote

      @FalcoDog. Interesting economic argument, but I’ve never (in decades of researching this issue) seen any indication this is remotely an explicit factor in speed zoning.

  • avatar
    George B

    Most rural highways in Texas now have a 75mph speed limit which is probably fast enough when anything <10mph over the limit is generally tolerated. Parts of I-10 and I-20 have an 80mph speed limit, but the 600 mile drive from El Paso to Fort Worth is tiring no matter how fast you drive. I was a little surprised to see 75mph speed limit signs on two-lane TX-114 east of Lubbock. You can travel reasonably long distances in a day with the cruise control set to a steady 83mph.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Until we stop burning liquid fuels entirely, I’d suggest enforcing existing speed laws more rigidly. We all know there are those who will take advantage of any leniency and most states allow from 9-14mph over the posted limit, giving nearly free rein to going 80-85mph in most states (and even higher in some.) I wouldn’t be opposed to a flat 65mph limit across the board but I know people will howl just as they did with the 55mph limit.

    On the other hand, why does anyone need a speedometer that goes over 100mph? That old practice of marking top speed at 80 was somewhat effective at helping to hold speeds down and today it would be a lot harder to just change the speedometer gear to read kph as mph.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Heavy traffic all moving at 85 in a 65 zone, perhaps a little light rain and twilight conditions, and almost no risk that anyone gets a speeding ticket because it is too dangerous and arbitrary for a trooper to pull any individual over. Light early morning traffic, dry straight roads and perfect visibility, and 85 in a 65 zone will make you perfect pickings for the trooper looking to get his quota. Speed limits are supposed to be about safety, but do the common situations above have nothing to do with safety.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Oregon’s interstate speed limit of 65 MPH is ridiculous. Driving east out to Boise is sheer torture.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      East of the cascades we’ve had 70 for about a year in some stretches. West, where we ALL live is still 65 or lower. Unbelievably stupid. Metro area interstates all posted at 55 with 65 -70 bulk flow. It’s like printing money. 5 motorcycles, 2 cars and the money just pours in.

  • avatar
    srd275

    The dreaded 55 (and 55/65) has been dead for well over 22 years.

    Overall safety has improved over that 2 decades (only the recession of 2008 thru 2014 had any real impact over safety).

    Most limits on the East side of the Mississippi should be 75 mph. Especially in the south. I routinely do that, and have for well over 2 decades and over 500,000 miles (most of this on a 1994 Firebird with over 475,000 miles alone).

    Can you go too fast for conditions, sure. But most drivers are not suicidal.

    There was too much emphasis put on a number sign and not on the 85% speeds, which if limits would be set to the 85% speeds, not only would compliance be excellent, so would safety.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    Nope, not yet. Some limits are too low while others are too high.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    high(er) speed limits would be ruined by the x% of people who can’t move right when appropriate.

    bad lane discipline makes things more dangerous than they should be.

    Oh to have 75-80mph + good lane discipline.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Is this a joke?

    Open your eyes anytime you’re driving. World still full of ridiculously low limits, with draconian patrol.

    Speed limits are a money scheme for governments, police, and insurance companies and nowhere near properly set.

  • avatar
    MWolf

    Here in Iowa, it’s usually 65 or 70, depending on where you are. I-235 in the Des Moines area is 55 or 60, which seems silly, considering how many lanes there are.

    Now South Dakota is a treat. 80mph on the interstate, and some two lane stretches of non-interstate highway at 70 (if they’re not in a highly populated area).

    I think 70-80 on wide, multilane or lonely roads is fully acceptable if other conditions allow it. Most people will drive at those speeds anyway. And why not? Most modern cars cruise comfortably at those speeds.

  • avatar
    theoldguard

    In the southeastern states, the right lane traffic is moving 75mph, the left lane, 75-90. I never thought I would say this, but that is fast enough. Especially when there appears to be twice as much traffic today than there was 40 years ago. On my last trip on the interstate, I was for the first time spooked. I’m in a Focus. Everyone else seems to be in F-150 – F-950. Size determines right of way. Is there some law that says SC residents must drive Suburban and Tahoe?

  • avatar
    stuki

    They’ll never get speed limits right until they either read “safe and prudent,” or are exchanged wholesale for something like kinetic energy limits. With all suspected violators going straight to a jury trial. And if found guilty, receive solid jail terms, not fines.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    The vast majority of my driving has been along the east coast, most of the time in the northeast. It seems to me that speed limits around here are mere suggestions. I recently drove from NY to GA and back over the holidays and the flow of traffic seemed to have been averaging somewhere around 80 mph where the posted limit was 65 mph. And passing a cop while driving over the posted speed limit also happens more often than you’d think. It seems like a risky thing to do, but when you see people do it over and over again, the risk tends to lessen.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Speed limits, particularly on highways, are fairly arbitrary. Rather than worrying about what the limit should allegedly be, we should address the process of how we choose them.

    Limits on open roads should usually be based upon the flow of traffic, i.e. the 85th or 90th percentile. Instead, we have legislators who know nothing about traffic safety debating some number that ends with a “0” or a “5” based upon, well, nothing.

    Allow traffic engineers to do their jobs. Unlike legislators, they actually know something about this gig. They will know when the flow of traffic should be used to determine the speed limit, and more importantly, those times when it shouldn’t.

    The exception to this should be with large vehicles such as semis. They should be confined to lower speeds (i.e. 65 or less) and the right-hand lane.

  • avatar
    S1L1SC

    Nope,
    Limit is $55-60 on a lot of my commute, but at that speed you are at risk of getting run over – Left lane still moves at 70-90.

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