Lawmakers look at lifting speed limits in Michigan
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 23 August 2013 13:46

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Some Michigan lawmakers are looking to lift the 70 mph cap on highway speeds and making other changes to reduce speed traps.

Grand Ledge Sen. Rick Jones is working on a bill with fellow Republican Tom Casperson from Escanaba that they hope to introduce this fall. One result could be raising speed limits to 75 mph or 80 mph on some stretches of freeway.

The proposal would make all roadways follow the "85th percentile" rule commonly endorsed and employed by transportation officials. That means setting limits that correspond with speeds at which 85 percent of vehicles safely travel.

Jones, a former Eaton County sheriff, said some local governments deliberately set speeds low to trap drivers and generate money from traffic tickets. He'd like to close what he calls a "loophole" in a law enacted in 2006 that requires all road agencies to set speed limits based on speed studies.

"There's a lot of political pressure not to follow it," he told MLive.com. "Some cities are cashing in, and it needs to stop."

Spokesmen for the Michigan Department of Transportation told MLive and WXMI-TV in Grand Rapids that the safest conditions exist when most drivers are going the same speed. They say higher speed limits aren't necessarily more dangerous.

Michigan's current top highway speed of 70 mph is consistent with neighboring states including Illinois and Ohio. Some states, such as Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Texas, have limits as high as 75 mph or 80 mph.

If such legislation is passed, transportation officials would need to conduct speed studies before any changes could be made. Statewide freeway studies currently being conducted by the Michigan State Police are expected to be completed by the end of the year.


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