Proposal Would Increase Speed Limits in Michigan to 80 mph: Attorney Scott Goodwin Weighs In On the New Proposal

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Michigan's new proposal is viewed as a positive change by some and a potential dangerous threat to others. Hear what Attorney Scott Goodwin has to say about the proposed speed limit change.

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Very simple "Speed Kills.”

The question of speed limits on roads in the United States has become a bone of contention between those who want to keep traffic on highways free flowing and those who are concerned about safety on the nation’s roads. In Michigan, a proposal to raise the speed limit on some highways in the state is being proposed that could increase the speed limit to 80 mph.

The Proposal

State Senator Rick Jones of Michigan believes some areas of the state are setting speed limits that are too low in order to increase revenues from speeding tickets. Jones says that current speed limits are not based on any scientific data on accident incidences on these roads. He believes that drivers could safely drive at 80 mph without any increase in accidents. In fact, higher speeds do not necessarily translate into accident rates, and higher speed limits could safely be increased on some roads that have long stretches of open highway without obstructions or other issues. However, not everyone is convinced this would help to improve driving condition on Michigan roads. Some worry that speed limits this high could pose a hazard to rural communities and those that regularly travel on these roads.

Applying Accident Science

Up to one-quarter of accidents occur in bad weather and when the pavement is wet. Michigan’s heavy spring, summer and autumn rainfalls could cause hazardous conditions for those driving at high speeds even on rural roads. A look at data from the National Highway Transportation Administration shows a number of significant facts on accidents in the state of Michigan:

·    Traffic fatalities in rural areas of the state have gone down steadily from 2007 to 2011 at current speed limits.
·    Motorcycle fatalities appear to have remained fairly steady throughout the state have remained steady at current rates.
·    Intersections pose the greatest risk for accidents on all roads.
·    Special hazards such as school buses serving rural communities and farm equipment may also be present on these roads.
·    Rural roads may be less frequently patrolled by enforcement agencies, which may lead to drivers exceeding the higher rates.
·    Rural roads are less likely to be cleared of snow or treated with chemicals for icing, which would cause increased hazards at higher speed during the winter months.

Other Factors That Could Affect Higher Speed Limits

Though most agree that many rural roads could accommodate the higher speed limit without problems, some natural features of the land, the road’s construction and weather conditions could affect the safety of these roads under some conditions. Michigan winters can be snowy with accumulations of black ice in low areas that could make the higher speed limit a hazard. Careful review of accident statistics on roads where the high limit is proposed would be necessary to prevent increased accident rates.

Legal Ramifications of Increased Driving Speeds

Though the wish to speed travel on rural roads for those traveling to work have an obvious benefits for these drivers, increased speed limits could lead to significant danger for accidents and fatalities for the communities. If you have been injured or lost a loved one while driving at unsafe posted speeds, consult with an attorney to discuss your rights under the law.

Michigan personal injury attorney Scott Goodwin from the law offices of Goodwin & Scieska weighs in:

"Very simple, "Speed Kills.” The public needs to be better educated on NOT driving in the left lane or speed lane of traffic. Slower traffic needs to move to the right. If the public followed that rule there would be less jockeying for position on the freeways.

"While 80 MPH appears to be a speed in which some motorist driving modern driving machines may be comfortable. Not all cars or drivers will be up to the task of traveling at those speeds.

"Younger drivers do not have the experience for those speeds and older driver may not have the physical abilities to react at 80-90 MPH. After all most folks traveling 70 inch up to 75 thinking there is some leeway on that limit . If we have a 80 mph speed limit then there will be folks inching up to 85-90 do we want folks traveling 85-90?

"Remember: Speed kills."

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Kathy Sheng
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