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tSlater

Speed Limits

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The Michigan State Police pushed this little known law, a minor change in the traffic code in November 2006 that could have major consequences for both drivers and cities. The law changes the way cities are supposed to set speed limits. The goal is to make roads safer. When the speed limit is too low, motorists ignore it, and drive at a variety of speeds that can make traffic safety worse instead of better.

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Under the new law, cities are now supposed to set their limits based on what 85 percent of drivers travel under normal, free-flowing conditions. The law spells it out exactly by writing what the local spped limit should be, based on access points -- driveways and intersections -- in a half-mile stretch.

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I'm all for this law.

The self-appointed hall monitors who hold up the 85% (or more) of drivers who are 'speeding' are probably causing more harm than the good they believe they're doing.

And there are DEFINITELY some roads that need their speed limits increased.

Laws are in place to make our world a better place not so police can abuse them at the end of the month when they didn't make quota. If I were a cop, where would I hide if I wanted to write a few speeding tickets so I look good on my reports? Probably the roads where majority of the people don't obey the speed limit.

My apologizes if this is not novel worthy syntax. I just had a few points I wanted to make.

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Even if the speed limit does need to be raised in places, is this the right way to do it? Drivers can literally set their own speed limits collectively. Downtown could become at 55MPH zone over time. Is that something we really want?

And sorry for being a 'self-appointed hall monitor', I prefer to actually leave early so I don't have speed down roads like a bullet and actually follow the speed limits. Speeding is just a sign of a lack of responsibility for one's time management or just a poorly impatient driver, imho.

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Even if the speed limit does need to be raised in places, is this the right way to do it? Drivers can literally set their own speed limits collectively. Downtown could become at 55MPH zone over time. Is that something we really want?

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While I dont have a reference for this, I have read that people drive the speed they are going to drive regardless of the speed limit. the term used to slow people down is 'traffic calming', you can look it up on the internet. the selected speed has more to do with road conditions than what is posted. If there are a lot of 'features', (i.e. parked cars, chicanes, roadside landscaping) adjacent to the road people have a tendency to slow down. people speed because you have a lightly traveled, wide open road with no reason to slow down. nobody is at danger by driving fast so you do. If cities wanted people to slow down they would design roads that slow them down.

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I have to agree with Tslater. When Michigan's highway speed limits was set to 55 mph, traffic was flowing at 65 to 70 mph. Now that the Highway speed limit is set to 70 mph, I'm seeing vehicles screaming down the road at 75 to 80 mph -- some times 90 mph. Its only natural that this same effect would result if cities rise their speed limits. Crossing Monroe Ave or Division Ave. with traffic stampeding down that road at 60 mph would be suicide.

Edit-- You give a person an inch, he'll take a mile.

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I have to agree with Tslater. When Michigan's highway speed limits was set to 55 mph, traffic was flowing at 65 to 70 mph. Now that the Highway speed limit is set to 70 mph, I'm seeing vehicles screaming down the road at 75 to 80 mph -- some times 90 mph. Its only natural that this same effect would result if cities rise their speed limits. Crossing Monroe Ave or Division Ave. with traffic stampeding down that road at 60 mph would be suicide.

Edit-- You give a person an inch, he'll take a mile.

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that was the threat of ticketing that kept speeds low. you can safely travel about 10 mph faster than the speed limits and never get a ticket. US interstates could support safely support traffic much faster than 80 mph in good weather and so people will travel those speeds as long as they think that they wont get a ticket. problems arise when there is a large differential in speed or people are traveling at high rates of speed in bad conditions. of course you could find statistics that state that higher speed limits contribute to higher rate of fatalities. in that instance you might as well make the speed limit 10 mph everywhere, just so we wouldn't hurt ourselves.

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Possibly the worst speed trap in the Grand Rapids area is on Forest Hill Ave just north of where it crosses I-96. The speed limit changes abruptly from 45 to 25 and back again within a quarter mile. If you want to spot cops pulling people over just because they can it's there. There is no public safety issue there. It's just inside the Kentwood city limits and I'm sure it's where a good portion of their traffic ticket revenue comes from.

I am strongly in favor of eliminating speed limits on freeways outside of urban areas, just like the autobahn. The problem as I see it is that most US drivers don't have the road manners to deal with faster traffic, but that would change as people got used to it. In Germany it's a big no-no to pass on the right, and fines for most infractions are much larger. They're also required to keep their cars in better mechanical order to handle the higher speeds. They have a pretty good safety record too from what I understand.

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In my opinion, there are several speed limits in the Grand Rapids area that need to be adjusted. I find it interesting that every single road in the City of Wyoming (except for state trunklines) has a speed limit of 35 mph or less. I can think of at least a few roads in Wyoming, and other cities as well, where 40 or 45 mph seems more appropriate. That being said, there are also a couple of roads that I think are actually too high, mostly in the county.

I don't agree with using the 85th percentile speed as the only criteria. There should be more to justify how the speed limit is set than "well, this is how fast people are driving, so that should be the limit". Using the number of access points as the only criteria also does not make much sense. There are many other things that must be considered, including road classification, curves, hills, surrounding land use (residential vs. commercial), and road design, among others.

In the end, I don't think this legislation will really end up changing things very much. Police departments make too much money off of traffic tickets, and no one really wants the speed limit to increase on the street they live on, just everyone else's streets. I'll really be surprised if this makes any difference.

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I wonder why I'm not hearing the City of Wyoming gripe about the prospects of the state forcing cities to raise speed limits. One gets pulled over in that city and its a double whammy. Not only one has to pay for the ticket. One also has to pay that stupid idiotic cop service fee for being pulled over. Of course the service fee happens to drivers living outside the city limits. But their are an awful lot of non-Wyomingers passing through that city on any given day. That equates to being a real cash cow for that city.

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I think this whole law is just stupid. I can't stand how some people are in just such a yank and they pull maneuvers and get all pissed off at you because you're doing what the law says. I used to get really upset when people would treat me like that. Sometimes I'll be driving down some of the highways and I'm doing 55 like the speed limit says, and if I usually have a couple cars behind me then I'll be courteous enough to go 60 and speed up a little bit, but it never seems to be enough.

But the one thing that irritates me in Michigan more than ANYTHING in the world is tailgating. It comes across to me as VERY rude and I think that law needs to be enforced more than speeding. When I lived in Raleigh for 6 months - people gave so much space in between each other, and they sure set themselves as an example to how ppl in cities should be driving. Except for the last-minute 4-lane-change-onto-a-ramp thing that they do, that's annoying :lol:

And I agree with previous comments that those that are speeding have poor time management skills - and those who are speeding faster are wasting more gas than when you are doing the speed limit. And you all wonder why you pay so much at the pump. I can spend 30 dollars for a full tank and drive to GR and back to Greenville and not have to get gas till the middle of the next week. Although I have a car :P

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...those that are speeding have poor time management skills - and those who are speeding faster are wasting more gas than when you are doing the speed limit. And you all wonder why you pay so much at the pump. ...

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I think the reason for the 85 percent rule is that people will only follow laws that they support. If speed limits are unreasonably low then people won't accept them. I don't think people automatically drive 5-10 over the limit just because they feel like they can get away with it, they'll drive at a speed they find comfortable regardless of the speed limit.

While I don't care for needless speed limit enforcement, I must admit that I disagree with those that think the cops just pull people over for revenue or to meet quotas. There are no quotas, and I believe speeding ticket revenue goes to the court, not the police department. Of course there are some notable exceptions, but as a rule it's just not the case.

I looked into this a lot a few years ago when I got my last speeding ticket. I went to court and got it knocked down a bit which felt pretty good. Not only to save points and money, but also just to learn how the system works. I even went so far as to check out the existing Michigan case law at GVSU's downtown library.

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I have to agree with Tslater. When Michigan's highway speed limits was set to 55 mph, traffic was flowing at 65 to 70 mph. Now that the Highway speed limit is set to 70 mph, I'm seeing vehicles screaming down the road at 75 to 80 mph -- some times 90 mph.

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It's not the highways I'm so much concerned about, it's the city streets and roads, where pedestrians are. My biggest concern about this is indeed primarily from a pedestrian perspective.

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I guess I don't see speeding as much of a concern in the city. There are too many traffic lights to even make speeding effective. You will not save time by speeding unless you do it to the point of being reckless. I rarely see the GRPD pulling people over, I guess they have better things to do.

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I think this whole law is just stupid. I can't stand how some people are in just such a yank and they pull maneuvers and get all pissed off at you because you're doing what the law says. I used to get really upset when people would treat me like that. Sometimes I'll be driving down some of the highways and I'm doing 55 like the speed limit says, and if I usually have a couple cars behind me then I'll be courteous enough to go 60 and speed up a little bit, but it never seems to be enough.

But the one thing that irritates me in Michigan more than ANYTHING in the world is tailgating. It comes across to me as VERY rude and I think that law needs to be enforced more than speeding. When I lived in Raleigh for 6 months - people gave so much space in between each other, and they sure set themselves as an example to how ppl in cities should be driving. Except for the last-minute 4-lane-change-onto-a-ramp thing that they do, that's annoying :lol:

And I agree with previous comments that those that are speeding have poor time management skills - and those who are speeding faster are wasting more gas than when you are doing the speed limit. And you all wonder why you pay so much at the pump. I can spend 30 dollars for a full tank and drive to GR and back to Greenville and not have to get gas till the middle of the next week. Although I have a car :P

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In regards to city streets, I find it annoying that the streets are designed to allow you to go at a far faster speed than the posted limit. For example, Fuller north of Michigan. You have a four lane road, in some places a turning lane, nice and straight and 35MPH. You find yourself going 45 or 50 easily and having to check yourself, because if you do get a ticket it would be for 15 over. What I ask is if you don't want people to go 50, then don't make it to entice you to go that fast. Don' t make it four lanes and no parking along the sides.

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Back in the olden days, the Michigan speed limit was 65 on 2 lane roads, 70 on the limited acess freeways. Freeways are designed for 75mph in rural areas. During the oil shortage of 7?, the feds pushed the 55mph even on the interstates. I can remember driving the Ohio Turnpike back then when the Smokey Bears would line em up on the shoulders for 56 -57 :( .

PS: I agree with the 85th percentile method - it works pretty well.

Full time road guy, part time railroad guy :rolleyes:

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You shouldn't be offended if people tailgate you or speed by you or are irritated by your slow driving. it's just like refusing to shake hands with someone or not saying please or thank you. when you do something culturally unacceptable do not be suprised when it isn't recieved kindly.

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Tailgating is dangerous...but so is going slower than the speed of traffic in the fast lane. :D

I see it less over here, but over in Detroit I've found that it's not uncommon for the speed to traffic to be 85-90 MPH in the fast lane. If everyone is doing it then it's perfectly safe. If somebody decides to go 65 in the fast lane they are the one being dangerous. I'm not saying everyone has to drive fast, but that if you're in the passing lane you should be passing people! If somebody starts tailgating then let them by.

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