Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: Michigan's approach to Speed Limits

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Houston, TX

    Michigan's approach to Speed Limits

    Speed limit going up on US-127


    ST. JOHNS -- The stretch of US-127 from St. Johns to Ithaca is about to become the first non-freeway in the state to be signed above 55 mph since the oil embargo days of the early 1970s.
    The speed limit is going up - from 55 mph to 65 mph, effective when new signs arrive some time in April.
    The decision to increase the speed limit was made over the strong objections of Clinton County Sheriff Wayne Kangas.
    "I tried to point out that the Clinton County section is very different than the Gratiot County piece," said Kangas.
    He said he counted 56 or 57 driveways in the six miles of US-127 in Clinton County that will be impacted by the increase.
    Representatives from both the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police were involved in making this decision, and they feel strongly that it is the right decision.
    "Michigan State Police and MDOT are the ones who are given the authority around the state to set speed limits, jointly," said Steve Bower, manager of MDOT's Lansing Transportation Services Center.
    Speed study
    A speed study was done in 2007 on the section of US-127 north of St. Johns. The study was part of an overall review of the roadway, according to Bower.
    "We have monitored speeds over the years," he said, "and speeds are running 65-67 miles per hour."
    To improve the safety of some of the intersections north of St. Johns, MDOT constructed directional crossovers last summer at French and Hyde roads.
    Later this summer, left-turn slots will be constructed at Marshall and Mead roads.
    "We are trying to provide people with a turning lane at all intersections," said Bower.
    "These engineering changes were made to improve overall safety."
    Rule of 85th percentile
    But the major consideration in setting the speed limit, aside from the actual engineering and construction of the road, is something called the 85th percentile rule.
    "It is a nationally accepted guideline for setting speed limits," said Bower.
    "Eighty-five percent of drivers are currently going 65 miles per hour and slower," said Lt. Gary Megge of the Michigan State Police Traffic Services Section. "So the 85th percentile speed is 65 mph. That is a very key number is this process."
    Megge stressed that 65 mph is the maximum limit under normal or ideal driving conditions.
    "The speed limit is designed for normal or ideal driving conditions," he said, "not for days when roads are slippery or wet or when traffic is heavy or visibility is poor."
    Megge said the engineering and traffic investigation done prior to the decision to raise the speed limit considered many things -- crash data, the road-side environment including things like the number and proximity to the roadway of homes and businesses, traffic volume, makeup of the road itself and general characteristics like bridges and railroad tracks.
    "Based on our studies, the best and safest speed limit for that section of US-127 is 65 mph," said Megge.
    Kangas' fear
    Kangas said one of his fears is that people who now drive five to 10 miles over the 55 mile per hour limit will continue to drive five to 10 miles over the new 65 miles per hour speed limit.
    "That is an extremely common reaction," said Megge. "That is what people think they know. That is what they expect to happen."
    But he said that is not what he has experienced in the nearly 12 years he has been doing this type of work.
    "We have never seen that happen," said Megge of the fear people will go even faster after the limit is raised.
    "The speed of traffic generally stays the same. We don't see the change people anticipate. Essentially nothing is going to change on that road except people's perception of what is changing."
    Kangas hopes Megge is right, and he cautions drivers not to exploit the new speed limit by driving faster.
    Tolerance level
    "The tolerance level for people exceeding the 65 mile per hour limit is going to be much less," said Kangas. "I don't want people to get the idea they can go over 65 and get away with it."
    Kangas said he is going to monitor the situation, and if the increased speed limit results in drivers going faster than the posted 65 mph and/or more accidents, he will meet again with the Michigan State Police Traffic Services Division and Michigan Department of Transporation.
    "We'll meet with them again, and we'll meet with our legislators if we need to," he said.
    Bower and Megge think Kangas' fears are unfounded.
    "If we see the speeds increasing, or accidents increasing, we will revisit this," Bower said.
    "We'll reevaluate the decision in a few months to make sure it was the right one."
    First in Michigan
    Bower did acknowledge that this will be the first non-freeway in the state to be signed above 55 mph since the oil embargo days of the early 1970s.
    For now, MDOT is moving forward with the change and preparing for the new signs.
    "People will begin to see the new signs early in April," said Bower.
    One more thing
    Bower also wanted to let people know MDOT does have some limited funding for property acquisition. Properties are being purchased along US-127 in hopes of eventually continuing the freeway from St. Johns to Ithaca.
    "We will continue to buy property and relocate people along the US-127 corridor between St. Johns and Ithaca," he said. "And as we buy up those properties, there will be fewer and fewer driveways along the route."

  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Sheriff Kangaroo sounds like a typical tax feeder....

Similar Threads

  1. History of UK speed limits.
    By Ken in forum Fight Traffic Tickets/Driving Issues
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-07-2009, 06:08 AM
  2. The 2008 Politics of Speed Limits
    By hwyhawg in forum Fight Traffic Tickets/Driving Issues
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-28-2008, 06:09 AM
  3. Reasonable speed limits - vs. what we have
    By Eric in forum Fight Traffic Tickets/Driving Issues
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 06-26-2008, 11:47 PM
  4. Evidence that speed limits are too low
    By swamprat in forum Fight Traffic Tickets/Driving Issues
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 06-03-2007, 11:57 PM
  5. Jim Baxter on speed limits
    By Eric in forum Fight Traffic Tickets/Driving Issues
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-10-2006, 07:09 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts