Speed limit shift needs close look

The lyrics of the popular song say, “I Can’t Drive 55” — and now some Michigan lawmakers are saying they can’t drive 70, either.
Aug 30, 2013


There is a push in Lansing to raise the speed limit on Michigan expressways from the current posted 70 mph to 80.

On the surface, getting from Point A to Point B a little quicker may seem like a good idea. We urge lawmakers and traffic safety engineers, however, to proceed with caution before giving drivers the green light to open up the throttle on Michigan highways.

Safety experts should carefully study all roadways eligible for this speed increase to determine if these roads would be best served with an increased speed.

While driving 80 might seem like a great idea for expressways in remote areas in northern Michigan, driving faster along busier highways near Grand Rapids and Detroit could be disastrous.

All potential safety risks must be looked at before the speed limit is changed. We’d hate to see a fatal crash occur because speeds were set faster than they should have been.

Another idea worth considering is the option of looking at the speed limits of semi-truck traffic. These vehicles are capped at 60 mph on freeways, and can cause severe traffic bottlenecks and other hazards.

Why not consider allowing these vehicles to travel at the same speed as cars — 70 mph — in order to better improve the flow of traffic? As it is, many vehicles speed along, and then slam on the brakes when they encounter slower-moving trucks. These are trucks, we might add, that are operated by professional drivers with extra safety training and hundreds of thousands of miles of driving experience.

This same-speed system appears to work in Ohio, Wisconsin and almost all of Illinois (minus a few counties around Chicago). Why not give it a shot here?

Whatever the case, Michigan lawmakers need to carefully consider the details before giving the green flag to drivers.

To read the AP story on the speed limit proposal, CLICK HERE.

The Tribune also had an online poll on the proposal. To see the results, CLICK HERE.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Typical speeds on I-96 around Grand Rapids hover around 80mph already, with less than disastrous consequences... Between GR and Detroit, and especially between Lansing and Detroit, it's usually higher. Since the posted speed limit is 70mph, and some/many people do follow speed laws strictly, there is a large differential of speeds already today on the highway. Increasing to 80, and enforcing it, would allow the law abiders and the outlaws to travel at more similar speeds and theoretically reduce accidents.


I have relation In Ohio & the speed limit is 65. That is the one I wish they would change.

retired DOC

I am much more interested in restoring the 65 back to the roads that Nixon forced down to 55. I am on US31 between Grand Haven and Holland almost every day. It used to be 65 and so many are doing 65+. I believe that state law requires a speed study. If they would do that then I believe the reposting of 65 would happen.


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