Crashes, injuries spike after Michigan boosts freeway speed limits to 75 mph

Michigan's 2017 law that raised speed limits from 70 mph to 75 mph on 614 miles of rural freeways is alternately loved and loathed by motorists, who are collectively off to a fast start. (Shutterstock image)

ITHACA –  For Connor Learman, Michigan's 75 miles per hour speed limit on US-127 allows him to shave a few minutes off his weekend snowboarding trip up north and all but eliminates the risk he’ll get pulled over by police.

"I go 80 anyways, so it gets me closer," the 22-year-old from Ann Arbor said in Ithaca, during a quick rest stop en route to Boyne Mountain in northern Michigan. 

But for Darlene Hoepper of Durand, who still sets her cruise control at 70 mph more than a year after the limit was raised by 5 mph, the new law makes her Friday drive to gamble at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant feel like a risky bet. 

"It's too fast," the 60-year-old said. "I'm an old lady, and I don't like people buzzing by me at 80 mph or 85 mph."

Michigan's 2017 law that raised speed limits from 70 mph to 75 mph on 614 miles of rural freeways is alternately loved and loathed by motorists, who are collectively off to a fast start on the newly designated portions of Interstate 69, I-75, US-10, US-31, US-131 and US-127.

 

State records show average speeds have increased 2 mph and more drivers are going over 80 mph, while crashes, injuries and fatalities increased at a higher rate on the freeways than other roads in 2018, the first full year after higher speed limits were posted.

Still, the worst fears of many critics failed to materialize because Michigan officials tasked with raising speed limits did so only after selecting the safest freeways in the state, the first in the Great Lakes region to go higher than 70 mph. 

While traffic safety experts warn against drawing broad conclusions from a single year of data, many experts said the science of speed is well established after decades of academic and industry research.

“When speed limits go down, traffic deaths go down. When speed limits go up, deaths go up,” said Russ Rader, senior vice president at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an industry funded group that studies ways to reduce crashes and improve road safety. 

Police did not identify speed as a primary factor in any of the 14 fatal crashes on 75 mph freeways in 2018, the highest number in five years. But experts warn that faster speeds increase the likelihood of such crashes – and their severity –  because drivers have less time to make life-or-death decisions as they hurtle down freeways.

Case in point, a December 2018 crash on Interstate 69 witnessed by Zack Little of Laingsburg, who was traveling behind a 2007 Pontiac Montana that he saw flip at least three times near Clayton Township in Genesee County. When he rushed to the vehicle, Little immediately knew the driver would not survive.

“Besides looking at his head and seeing that it looked like a crushed hacky sack, there was blood everywhere,” said Little, now 25.

Police attributed the crash to careless driving by the 60-year-old motorist. Witnesses said the driver was passing slower cars in the 75 mph zone when he merged into the right lane, saw it was occupied by another car, suddenly veered left to avoid a crash and caused his car to roll over.

The driver, who was taken directly to the morgue, was not wearing a seat belt, according to a crash scene investigator. But would he have flipped his car if he had an extra second to check his blind spot? Little doesn't know, and he doesn't think the new speed limit law has significantly jeopardized public safety. “But after the accident, I could definitely argue about it,” he said.

 

Selected for speed

The law, Public Act 445 of 2016, tasked the Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan State Police with raising speed limits to 75 mph on at least 600 miles of rural freeways and to 65 on at least 900 miles of other highways. The 1,557 miles they selected amounted to about 16 percent of total state freeway miles in Michigan.

After then-Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill, state traffic experts set out to try to minimize the impact by identifying the straightest and safest freeways on which to raise speeds. They studied crash histories, roadway geometry, traffic volumes and more.

“Obviously when we were selecting the legislatively required 600 miles, we wanted to pick ones that were really the lowest of the low-hanging fruit from a risk perspective,” said Brad Wieferich, director of MDOT’s Bureau of Development.

Most of the selected freeways were already designed to accommodate speeds of roughly 5 mph over the posted limit, which matched the required increase, Wieferich said. And many drivers were already traveling at or about 75 mph on those roads, according to Lt. Lance Cook, head of the Michigan State Police traffic crash reconstruction unit.

“What we found is that if the number on the sign is artificially low, the drivers aren’t going to obey it and you can actually make traffic more dangerous by putting groups in conflict with each other,” Cook said. 

Supporters of the legislation, which cleared the House and Senate in narrow but bipartisan votes after an earlier push for 80 mph stalled, argued drivers were already traveling at speeds they felt safe and would continue to do so after limits were raised.  But researchers predicted higher limits would lead to some speed increase. And early data suggest they have.

The Michigan Department of Transportation routinely collects speed data at automated counting stations across the state, and a Bridge Magazine analysis indicates speeds consistently rose at sites that went to 75 mph.

One day in June 2018, for instance, on a stretch of US-131 in Montcalm County in west Michigan the average motorist was traveling 76.9 mph, up from 74.6 mph in 2016. Roughly 40 percent of drivers were speeding at more than 80 mph, up from 10 percent two years prior. 

“Greater speed automatically provides greater risk,” Wieferich said.

“The cars are way better than they used to be — better braking, better handling, better from an overall safety perspective. But at the end of the day, it’s still physics. Speed is distance over time… and with everyone on their cellphone that I see on the freeways, I would bet that our reaction times are worse.”

 

Speed increases were modest on some of the freeways. At a count station on U.S. 127 in Roscommon County, the average motorist travelled 75.4 mph on one day last July, up slightly from the 73.3 mph average in 2017.  But nearly half of all drivers — 49 percent — were going more than 80 mph in 2019, up from 38 percent two years earlier. 

“The biggest thing was people were concerned that if you gave them another 5 [mph], they were going to take another 10 [mph],” said former state Rep. Bradford Jacobsen, an Oxford Republican who sponsored the 75 mph speed limit law. “And that just hasn’t happened.”

While he’s no longer serving in the Legislature, Jacobsen said he is still asked about the new law almost daily by colleagues, friends and other motorists. 

“For the most part, they’re appreciative,” he said. “They can get up to their cabin in the U.P. in 40 minutes less than they used to. I think that’s the general consensus.”

Crashes up, jury out

Roscommon County Sheriff Ed Stern said he “didn’t know what to expect” when the state raised freeway speeds on I-75 and US-127. 

He hasn’t personally noticed an increase in crashes, but “any time when there is an accident, the severity of the damage and injuries has increased, in my mind,” Stern said. 

Crash records analyzed by Bridge paint a complicated picture of the early safety impact on freeways where speed limits were increased to 75 mph in May 2017. 

  • Crashes jumped to 4,264 in 2018 on those freeways, the most in five years and up 17 percent from the annual average of 3,637 from 2014 to 2016. 
  • Of the 2018 crashes, 589 involved an injury, the highest in five years and up 19 percent from the average from 2014 to 2016, while there were 14 crashes in which at least one person died, up from an average of 11 over the same period.
  • By comparison, crashes rose just 3 percent on all Michigan roadways over the same span, while the number of crashes in which there was an injury or fatality rose roughly 1 percent. 

But because the stretches selected for 75 mph speeds are largely rural, lightly traveled and safer than most, crashes and fatalities on those freeways accounted for only a small fraction of the statewide total. 

There were more total crashes (7,520) and fatal crashes (24) on the 273 miles of I-94 than on the entire 614 miles of freeway that went to 75 mph. 

“Those fearmongers out there who thought everybody was going to die, it certainly has not proven true,” Jacobsen said.

In an initial finding that contradicts past research on speed limit increases, there was no increase in the number of crashes where the responding police officer believed there was at least one “severe” injury short of death. 

The 55 crashes that fit that description in 2018 equaled the average from 2014-16.

The state is waiting to assess the impact of the new speed limits until it has at least three years of crash data.  Michigan State University professor Timothy Gates, a highway design and traffic engineering expert, is helping conduct a long-term study for MDOT. In a recent department podcast, Gates confirmed drivers are now going faster  – 2 mph on 75 mph freeways and 3-4 mph on 65 mph highways – but said it’s too soon to evaluate crash data.

“One year, even two years, is such a small snippet of time, and there’s a lot of factors that go into crash rates, even things you wouldn’t think about, like the economy,” Wieferich told Bridge. “People may be more likely to take more personal risks in a better economy than they do when things are slower.”

Cook from the MSP also warned against drawing conclusions.

 

“The first couple years you can't establish anything,” he said, “because the best indicator of whether crashes are going to go up or down, it seems to be the economy. Because the more miles traveled, actually the higher the rate because of the congestion.”

While it’s only one year, trend data published by the Federal Highway Administration does not appear to explain the 2018 increase in crashes on 75 mph freeways. 

Traffic volume on all Michigan roadways decreased year-over-year for nine of 12 months in 2018.

A ‘forgotten issue’

Nationally, total traffic fatalities have declined sharply over the past five decades despite a steady movement toward higher freeway speeds. More than 54,000 people across the country died in crashes in 1972, according to federal data, compared to 36,560 in 2018. 

The decrease is usually attributed to safety improvements in vehicles, increased seatbelt use and a steep decline in drunken driving. But speed has become an almost “forgotten issue” in the national conversation on road safety, said Russ Martin, director of policy and government relations for the Governors Highway Safety Administration.

When you get in a crash, “your internal organs are also going the speed of your vehicle,” increasing the risk for significant injury despite vehicle safety features, said Tara Casanova-Powell, a national consultant focused on traffic safety program design, evaluation and research. 

“Legislators want their constituents to be happy, and there's a lot of pressure to raise speed limits regardless of what the research says,” she said. “The message is not getting across that speed kills.”

Most states have steadily increased freeway speed limits since 1995, when Congress fully repealed a 1974 law that had established a national 55 mph speed limit in an attempt to force reduced fuel consumption.

After Michigan raised some freeway speed limits to 70 mph in 1995 and 1997, total crashes increased 8.1 percent at previously studied sites, while combined fatalities and injuries increased by 10.2 percent, according to Western Michigan University researchers who re-examined the historical impact in a 2017 study.

speed limit

MDOT transportation maintenance worker Kwame Johnson works on a new freeway speed limit sign. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Transportation)

A net benefit?

Still, researchers at WMU’s Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities determined the speed limit increases were an economic positive for the state because of the overall reduction in travel times. 

Societal savings from faster trips outweighed increased costs from higher fuel consumption, new highway signage and traffic crashes, including medical expenses and lost wages, the researchers found.

"Higher speed limits can yield societal benefits through reduced travel time, but there is a price to pay in terms of additional lives lost," Charles Farmer, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety vice president for research and statistical services, said in an April report for the industry group. 

Bridge spoke with several local public safety officials about the new speed limits. Many said they had feared a large impact from the higher limits but have not yet seen the kind of dramatic changes they feared.

Doug Bourgeois, fire chief of Beaver Creek Township in southern Crawford County said his department has lengthened the “safe” area around wrecks on I-75 and U.S. 127 by 30 percent, positioning a warning flare farther away from where emergency crews are working.

Personally, Bourgeois no longer rides his motorcycle on the two highways –  vehicles are going too fast now, he said.

Clinton County Sheriff Larry Jerue said he opposed the speed limit increase at the time but has not yet seen his worst fears come true. He was not surprised that more drivers are now going over 80. 

"I don't think they feel in the vehicle much difference between 75 mph and 85 mph," he said.

For most drivers, "you might see a little bit of an increase,” he said. “And then you're going to see people that say this is like the Autobahn, I can go as fast as I want and will. Clearly that does happen, and we have some enforcement to do."

Bridge reporter Mike Wilkinson contributed to this report.

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Comments

Kevin Grand
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 7:26am

Michigan freeways WERE designed to be driven at higher speeds.

The problem arises when you have vehicles traveling at different speeds which was brought about from the faux "energy crisis" of the 1970's, that brought about a generation of drivers who have grown accustomed to this restriction as normal.

The fix here is simple; Pick a speed (the 85th percentile usually works) and stick with it.

Matt
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 7:47am

Biggest problem is mixing of 80mph drivers with the occasional 60mph drivers. Maybe equal attention should be given to keeping slow drivers off x-ways too?

abe bubush
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 8:32am

LOL. The whoever the supporters were who "argued drivers were already traveling at speeds they felt safe" DO NOT UNDERSTAND DRIVERS. The expressway is an arena for desperate sad sacks need to feel they are dominating other people. The negligible savings in time of speed are not supportable by the additional cost of wear, tear, injury and death not only to persons, but to vehicles and roadways.

Another stupid pandering law.

Mary
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 9:17am

Abe's position of whoever the supporters were who "argued drivers were already traveling at speeds they felt safe" DO NOT UNDERSTAND DRIVERS is so true. The vast majority of today's drivers don't care about the speed they are traveling to save a piddling 5 or 6 minutes in their commute; they don't care about other drivers' safety and they certainly don't care about their own safety. It is mainly about aggression, pure and simple.

Matt
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 8:14am

Like it or not better transportation is defined by among other things faster transportation.

abe bubush
Thu, 01/23/2020 - 9:38am

...and stupidity is defined by the inability to comprehend statistics or economics.

Terry Link
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 8:42am

No real mention of increase in fuel consumption = more greenhouse gases. Most folks on those highways are likely only driving for an hour or less thus saving a whopping 5- 6 minutes. Slowing down has many benefits including safety. Even at 2-5mph increase the additional greenhouse gases released are troubling. This is a cost the article neglected, otherwise well done.

Speeddoesntkill
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 11:45am

Not really. When the country had a 55 mph speed limit, fleet fuel economy did not change; it fluctuated between 11.9 and 12.5 mpg between 1970 and 1976. The 55 mph limit was imposed on 1974. This was despite a reported 8 mph reduction in travel speeds from 73 to 74. Facts belie bumper sticker politics.

Mike K
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 6:07pm

Let's interject physics into the observations. An ordinary car going around 50 mph requires about 50 bhp. A NASCAR with a limit of 700 bhp will go about 200 mph. Hey, it's only 4 times faster, why 14 times the horsepower? An increase in horsepower will require a commensurate increase in gas consumption. Because air fluid drag ( which is the major power requirement higher speeds) increases as the square of the velocity. Likewise power increases as the cube of the velocity. I assume people making comments passed high school math, so do a little paperwork and calculate how much your gas mileage decreases by increasing the speed from 55 mph to 80 mph. If you can't figure it out, you are still entitled to personal beliefs and politics. If you can figure it out, you also have the satisfaction of remembering your high school math.

Dave
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:22pm

Of course, a little more than high school math would teach you that a spark-ignition internal combustion engine is most efficient at wide open throttle at its torque peak. We know that energy needed to overcome drag goes with the cube of velocity, sure. But how the vehicle is geared, power available at a given cruising speed in top gear, and the efficiency of the powertrain when a gear change is needed all come into play. I recently rented a car in Germany with a peak of 110 hp, and cruised at 120 mph all day long. That's more than twice the speed with less than twice the horsepower of your example.
The real world isn't simple math. Oversimplifying leads to overgeneralized and often wrong conclusions.

Mel Zeillker
Thu, 01/23/2020 - 8:45am

Dude, nothing you said refutes the comment you replied to.

Are you disagreeing that the car you rented in Germany would have had better fuel economy at 65 mph?

abe bubush
Thu, 01/23/2020 - 9:45am

EVERY gas/diesel car is most FUEL efficient at (near) the minimum speed sustainable in top gear, with allowances for changes in grade angle, wind, and of course, safety and ego.

Anything else is rationalization.

Mary
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 9:08am

I strongly believe that there are more accidents on the highway with the increase in speed; a case in point is 127 every morning coming in from the north to work. You take your life in your hands traveling on 127 south with all the drivers going way above the speed limit. 5 miles over? More like 10 and weaving in and out of lanes and cutting other drivers off. And through Lansing on 127? That curve near 496 that says 60 never has drivers going that speed. I drive the back roads for my own safety. Try explaining the crazy driving to someone from another country - they are terrified to drive on the highways around here.

Dave
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:14pm

Through Lansing didn't change.

Davie
Sun, 02/09/2020 - 10:08am

Through Lansing went from 55 to 70 (60 on the 127/496 NB curve).

Joe
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 9:42am

Federal and independent testing proves that gas mileage significantly declines at speeds above 50mph. Given most of the arguments here, the state and federal limits should be set at 50mph.

Matt
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 8:19am

Ok ,,, then why not 35? Fewer injuries and better fuel mileage. Or then how about 25? You could say 80 is great because it's less than 100. Becomes circular logic tied to nothing.

Bones
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 4:56pm

Because 50 is a reasonable compromise between safety and fuel economy, you disingenuous tool

Zeebah
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 8:44pm

50 is waste of time. A 200-mile trip that can be driven in two and a half hours at 80 would take four hours at 50. Sorry, but most of us have better things to do than while away our lives to placate nervous nellies. And the risk is not much higher - you're a far bigger hazard if you're driving 20 mph slower than everyone else and traffic has to dodge you.

Matt
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 10:11am

Homeless delelects don't see time as most people nor do they have cars so it's a useless discussion. Other than humoring yourself time talking to your dog is better spent.

Matt
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 10:07am

How would you have any ideas on this? When does your bike even get above 15? Let alone your shopping cart.

Speeddoesntkill
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 11:48am

I get my best mileage at 45. I drive 80 on the highways without apology. When the 55 mph speed limit was in effect, it did not save gas. Not. One. Drop.

John McGehee
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 9:53am

Another issue with increased speed limits impacts the speeds of semi trucks. I've observed trucks doing 75+ and expecting a 10K+ vehicle to respond like a much smaller car.
Can the data look at accidents that involve semi trucks? I get that for owners "Time is Money" but slowing down semi trucks and keeping them in the right lane would be a step closer to safer roads.

sad
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 10:32am

I75 from Detroit to Bay City should also be 75mph. Slow drivers stay off the expressways. Tax people increasingly on the weight of their vehicles, in addition to their fuel consumption. Encourage electric vehicle adoption. Eventually taxes will be completely on weight of vehicles.

john chastain
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 10:36am

I’m in my 60’s & drive the freeways in southeast Michigan a lot. I’ve driven the northern roads into the UP all my adult life. I drive according to road conditions, traffic density, time of day and weather conditions. I don’t drive based on an arbitrary speed limit. The aggressive and careless behavior I’ve seen on the roads and the cause of many of the accidents I’ve encountered have speed as one of the causes and not the primary one. There is a significant portion of the driving public that because of issues of temperament and / or physical ability have no business driving. Some are young and inexperienced, some are old and impaired, some are distracted, some are on the roads too long and fatigued, some are aggressive and stupid and some are simply not competent because of how poorly we train drivers. We understood the need to get drunk drivers off the roads, we haven’t addressed the many other issues that make drivers dangerous to others as well as to themselves. We need alternative transportation solutions for those that should not drive, we need better training and licensing requirements for those who do. We need an advertising campaign equivalent to the drunk driving one and enforcement that holds aggressive & careless behavior accountable. Transportation is essential to our society, a mix of alternatives based on facts not ideology is needed and political tribalism has no place if we desire solutions not points. Speed limits based on road realities is only one of those solutions.

Gary Lea
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 10:56am

The oil embargo imposed by members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) led to fuel shortages and sky-high prices throughout much of the 1970s. Excessive speed can be reported through telemetric data transmitted by vehicles, earning their owners a 'Gas Guzzler' fine due to increased CO2 emissions (gasoline or diesel and grid-charged electric vehicles), with chronic speed limit offenders also winning themselves increased insurance rates and speeding fines. Yes, I'm aware that I have posited something tantamount to a 'Big Brother' society, but to me, it's all fun and games...until someone gets hurt. Laws save lives only when humans behave accordingly, not after the fact.

Russell
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 9:57am

So you would trust police/bureaucrats to only use your telemetry data to monitor excessive speed and not to track every single person at any time? And you would trust that the data would only be used to punish speeders and nobody else? Yeah, that’s how they’ll use the information - to make children and puppies safe and it would never be abused in any way, because there’s no evidence whatsoever in history of police and bureaucrats abusing power. You’re amazingly trusting.

Christine Temple
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 12:00pm

This is more personal freedom bullshit. Just like the helmet law being undone. When you live in a society with other people, and since most of us do not live on a deserted island, personal freedoms like driving like a maniac and not wearing a helmet so your brains can be splashed all over the subpar concrete, should be given short shrift.

Speeddoesntkill
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 11:51am

Personal freedom bullshit? What if we told you you can't smoke and have no right to choose. Yeah, I thought so. Crickets

Bones
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 4:59pm

It would be exceedingly cool and good if smoking was banned. Any other idiotic non sequiturs you'd care to waste our time with?

Matt
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 10:13am

Weed, Bones! What would you do?

Richard Jones
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 12:03pm

The sensationalist headline coupled with the citing of ANYTHING from the corrupt Insurance Institute For Highway Safety which is a lobbying group for Big Insurance which has a financial interest in keeping speed limits artificially low so that citations issued to perfectly safe drivers traveling at perfectly safe speeds can be used as a justification for rate increases are all you need to know to conclude that this article is garbage reporting. For the record the IIHS has been caught on multiple occasions intentionally falsifying data to promote their "Speed Kills" mythology. See this link for just one such instance: https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa346.pdf

I am also highly skeptical of the "Impact on Speeds" table that seems to suggest gigantic surges in the number of people going over 80 m.p.h. despite only marginal increases in average speeds (and in the case of Interstate 75 actually shows a DECREASE in average speeds while simultaneously showing a near tripling of the percentage exceeding 80 m.p.h). This is simply not a sensible outcome. If the number of people going over 80 almost tripled from 10.5% to 28.4% than that would mean that a substantial number of people would have actually needed to have slowed down significantly in order for the average to drop. (This is not to suggest that there is anything inherently unsafe with traveling at 80 - 85 m.p.h. on such a highway. These highways were designed for safe travel at these speeds in cars far less advanced than those on the road today.)

75 m.p.h. is not a particularly high speed limit but it is generally reasonable. Around the world 120 Km/h (74 m.p.h.) and 130 Km/h (81 m.p.h.) are the most common sped limits posted on freeways. Bulgaria, Poland and Saudi Arabia post 140 Km/h (87 m.p.h.) limits and of course Germany has fully derestricted limits on about 50% of its freeway network. (And a note to people who may think that freeways are built better in other countries, while it is true that maintenance on European freeways is generally better than in North America, lanes, medians and outside shoulders are typically notably narrower and inside shoulders are typically non existent and interchanges are much tighter with shorter and sharper curved ramps and frequently with shorter or even non existent merging areas.)

In the US Idaho, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming all post 80 m.p.h. limits on significant portions of their freeway networks and in addition to Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and Oklahoma (soon to join the 80 m.p.h. club) all post 75 m.p.h. on significant portions of their freeway networks.

Meanwhile, here in western Oregon where I am, we have some of the most repressive speed limits (50 - 55 m.p.h. is typically posted on freeways designed for 70 m.p.h.) on the entire planet yet we are experiencing record traffic deaths.

In the future please do not post misleading headlines just to get views. Buried in the story are clear warnings about making assumptions based upon limited data, yet these are clearly ignored in the pursuit of sensationalism which is far more profitable than careful and balanced journalism. I could type for another hour but I have things I need to do this morning.

Richard Jones, Clackamas, Oregon

Ben
Fri, 01/17/2020 - 11:53am

I personally know a Michigan state trooper, and he completely agrees with the fact that faster speed limits leads to faster driving leads to more injuries and deaths. Despite all of your hot air and stats, I don't see where you qualify yourself to know better than him. The problem isn't the 95% of people who can drive 80 safely. Its the 10% who can't and are given the green light to drive over 70.

Diane
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 3:42pm

I love getting up north faster, but physics is real, so it was a dumb to raise the limit. I’m terrified a kid is going to get hit on U.S. 2 along Lake Michigan. They should slow that stretch way down in the summer. Increased fuel consumption means increased carbon, which is bad, right?

Subee
Mon, 01/13/2020 - 7:03pm

It's just a good way to cull the herd. Unfortunately innocent folks also get creamed because some moron overestimated his race driving skills.

Harold Leese
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 3:21pm

24/7 public bus service in urban areas is proven to work to remove many thousands of cars from the road, including distracted drivers. This will put the safety of the public first. Please sign petition to make this work in Detroit and everywhere. http://savethefueltax.org

Matt
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 4:30pm

Is that why our local bus system spends so much of the day running around with 2 or3 people in a 40? seat bus?

Nick A
Sun, 01/19/2020 - 9:51am

This is purely anecdotal, but as a daily rider in Grand Rapids, I think low ridership has a lot to do with the long splits between stop times. In any large urban center the routes pick up at maximum every 15 minutes. The Rapid is every 30 on weekdays and hourly on weekends for most routes. That makes using the bus for non-routine activities impractical. When I ride to and from work, the bus is near capacity with other working commuters. Any other time, it’s largely empty.

Steve
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 12:52pm

Be wary of iihs claims. Cato in the past has busted iihs for dubious claims. Be wary of iihs claims. Page 16. https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa346.pdf

1. What were the causes of the crashes??? Most crashes are not caused by exceeding the speed limit. Many speed crashes are below it! http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/52/5250.asp
2. Basing speed limit policy on impact makes about as much sense as banning air travel which have massively higher speeds.

3. Besides needing more years of after data. Using 2014 or any recession year will skew results.

4. Also missing is how much traffic has switched from less safe secondary roads to safer per 100 million mile expressways?

The limit is safe as most crashes were not caused by the higher limit despite attempts by iihs to claim otherwise.

The reason you need to be wary of iihs claims is they love to cherry pick data.

Michigan 2017 fatals 1031, but 2018 went down to 974. 2016 was 1065. (Nhtsa fars) https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812826

The speed limit did not cause this.

Matt
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 4:35pm

"Also missing is how much traffic has switched from less safe secondary roads to safer per 100 million mile expressways?"
Very important, as the basis of this story depends on junk statistics. Missing is the number of uses for a road per year.
For example, if 10 people died on a highway where there were 1000 drivers annually, that is 1%. If 20 people died the next year and the number of drivers had increased to 3000, that is .6%. This story would tell you that the number of deaths increased from 10 to 20 and that is a bad thing, while in reality the percentage of deaths actually decreased.
So what is the use rate of the Michigan roads used to generate the statistics in the story? Without those their numbers mean nothing.

CJH
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 3:25pm

I live in Ann Arbor where incompetent driving is a far bigger problem than fast driving. I sincerely believe that the faster I get away from incompetent drivers the safer I am.

Homer Simpson
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 6:33pm

Why can Germans routinely drive at speeds that would make an American state trooper blush with an accident rate lower than ours (besides the fact that, well, they're German)?

Is the American motorist really such a poor driver?

Dave
Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:25pm

Your anecdote about the December lane-change fatality conveniently left out that the driver was arrested for OWI. Do you really think that his "excessive" speed was the result of a 70 to 75 mph speed limit change or the fact that he was drunk?

Ben
Fri, 01/17/2020 - 11:53am

I personally know a Michigan state trooper, and he completely agrees with the fact that faster speed limits leads to faster driving leads to more injuries and deaths. The problem isn't the 95% of people who can drive 80 safely. Its the 5% who can't and are given the green light to drive over 70.

David Smith
Sat, 01/25/2020 - 1:16pm

Where is the study of the conventional roads (non-freeways) with increased speed limits? Remember that prior to 1974, the Michigan speed limit on conventional roads was 65 daytime, 55 night, reflecting increased risk with reduced vision. I guess the powers to be forgot that.
The issue is that of productivity, or value of time. Most of us can walk at 3 mph or ride a bicycle at 15 mph and consume zero petroleum and emit negligible carbon. Or we can drive a car at 80 mph at a marginal cost of $10 per hour. A benefit to risk+cost analysis of speed is in order.

Don James
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 9:38am

I am a fan of the higher speed limits. I live in northern Michigan And drive freeways throughout Michigan for both work and pleasure, probably about 40,000 miles a year. I do not see many exceeding 80 mph and as a avid user of cruise control, set between 75 and 77, there are a more drivers going less than 75 than more than 75. On highways that are 70 or less there are many exceeding the speed limit by 10 or more mph. In my experience the most dangerous driving habits are not speeding but cell phone use followed by poor understanding of “Right of Way” laws.

Don James
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 9:55am

I am a fan of the higher speed limits. I live in northern Michigan And drive freeways throughout Michigan for both work and pleasure, probably about 40,000 miles a year. I do not see many exceeding 80 mph and as a avid user of cruise control, set between 75 and 77, there are a more drivers going less than 75 than more than 75. On highways that are 70 or less there are many exceeding the speed limit by 10 or more mph. In my experience the most dangerous driving habits are not speeding but cell phone use followed by poor understanding of “Right of Way” laws.

Jerome B Bigge
Mon, 01/27/2020 - 4:30pm

Idiots! There are always drivers who want to go faster. Only problem is that they often injure or kill people who were driving at a safe speed. This was an idea that makes no sense at all!

Don james
Wed, 01/29/2020 - 4:41pm

I forgot to add to my previous comment that I saw no mention of vehicle mileage. Everything I read says that there has been an increase in miles driven for the last few years. Comparing traffic accidents from year to year only without miles driven skews the statistics. You need additional metrics to make the difference statistically significant..