Skip to comments.Speed Trap Empire Strikes Back at Reform Effort
Posted on 02/19/2016 9:23:30 AM PST by MichCapCon
A package of bills designed in part to eliminate speed traps was reported out of the House Transportation Committee lacking a provision that would have restricted local governments from imposing unreasonably low speed limits.
One of the bills would have required limits to be set no lower than the speed at which 75 percent of drivers proceed in free-flowing traffic under normal conditions. The deletion of that requirement will let municipalities like Grand Rapids continue to enforce limits that studies show are exceeded by 97 percent of drivers.
Speeding tickets are a multimillion-dollar revenue stream for governments and a windfall for auto insurers, which charge higher premiums for license points. Drivers who get more than 6 points on a license within three years â equal to three speeding tickets â can find themselves in a more expensive insurance risk pool.
The accepted traffic-engineering standard for speed limits is the 85th percentile, the speed not exceeded by 85 percent of the drivers. The original bill, HB 4425, mandated that all speed limits be set at that level, but no lower than the 75th percentile. Studies have shown that when limits are set to reflect actual driving speeds, they can make the road safer by eliminating âspeed variation,â which can lead to traffic conflicts and more crashes.
James Walker of the National Motorists Association says the original bill had it right. He told a House committee, "I believe that unrealistically low limits like those which define the overwhelming majority of safe drivers as violators bear no relationship whatsoever to responsible traffic safety engineering." He continued, "I believe these, irresponsible practices will continue until the Legislature requires realistic posted speed limits by law."
Walker, who has been studying speed limits for over 50 years, pointed to Grand Rapids, where he conducted seven studies of 1,193 vehicles. Only 38 of the drivers of those vehicles, or 3 percent, were driving the posted limit.
A spokesman for the city said that raising speed limits can create problems. âHigher speeds do exponentially increase force in vehicle crashes," said Steve Guitar, communications director for the city of Grand Rapids. "They can also negatively impact the quality of life in neighborhoods causing safety risks to children and families living in school zones, near parks, in business districts and throughout the cityâs urban neighborhoods. Grand Rapids has dense housing structured among narrow tree-lined streets. Raising speeds in those areas, in our and our residentsâ opinion, does impact the quality of life (sound, bicycle and pedestrian safety) of a neighborhood."
Asked if the city considered all drivers who exceed the cityâs posted limits to be unsafe drivers, Guitar said, âAs stated in our release, we set limits based on Michigan Vehicle Code, MCL 257.627." He continued, "Our speeds are determined following that text so that 'a person operating a vehicle on a highway shall operate that vehicle at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition then existing.'"
The sponsor of two of the five reform bills, Rep. Bradford Jacobsen (R-Oxford), said lawmakers eliminated the 75th-percentile minimum because the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police wanted more flexibility in setting limits.
âWe get criticism for some of the things we do at the schools because weâre not school experts, telling teachers what to do; same thing here,â said Jacobsen.
Jacobsen said he is aware of speed enforcement practices like those in Grand Rapids but doesn't think they are problems on the east side of the state. He also said it was important to recognize local authority.
âWe, in the Legislature, try to listen and cooperate with our township associations and the Michigan Municipal League as much as possible, and many of us have local government background and experience,â said Jacobsen.
There were other changes in the bills. An earlier version said that the normal speed limit could not be reduced by more than 10 mph in a construction zone. The substitute bill allows for 45 mph limits where workers are present.
Lawmakers did retain other provisions, however. The most significant change would be to allow higher speed limits. They could go to 80 mph on rural limited access freeways, 70 mph in urban areas and 65 mph on trunk line highways.
The bills also retain a provision clarifying limits on a 25 mph speed limit allowed for residential subdivisions. This may eliminate the practice by some municipalities to designate any street as being in that category. The bills also allow Oakland and Macomb counties to set lower limits on gravel roads, a source of controversy there since a 2006 law established a uniformly higher statewide limit.
The insurance companies were able to get some leverage on HB 4427, which clarifies insurance eligibility points, which can lead to higher insurance bills for drivers. The original bill called for zero points for exceeding the speed limit by less than 6 miles per hour. The substitute bill allows auto insurers to add one point.
Jacobsen hopes the package of bills to go to the full House within the next three weeks. He said there has been fear-mongering on social media against raising speed limits.
If you are alone on a highway and you could CLEARLY drive 100 with no problem (and don’t get pedantic on me here, I am posing a theoretical argument) then why turn an otherwise law abiding citizen into a criminal?
I am NOT talking about blasting through traffic and winding roads at that speed- I am talking straight and narrow highway where you are (once again, in theory) perfectly safe driving 100?
Speed laws should be enforced when it is a safety issue. For example when you are seeing in a highly congested area or weaving in and out of traffic.
But setting up speed traps to enforce a speed limit in a safe area as a source of government revenue is ridiculous.
” required limits to be set no lower than the speed at which 75 percent of drivers proceed in free-flowing traffic under normal conditions”
People drive in excess of 40 mph on the one lane road with no marking in front of my place. That does not make it safe nor does it make it legal.
There is another place in town with a speed limit of 65 mph through a two lane cloverleaf exchange. The traffic is always heavy and people going 65 are a hazard.
Increasing your speed from 55-65 increases your kinetic energy 50%. Slow down and live.
I had no idea that this was one of the enumerated powers of the Federal Government. I guess I need to go back and reread the Constitution.
3 Fallacies Of The Dramatic Example. Impressive. I think they call that a turkey in bowling.
But they ignore the overall point of the story, the proposed changes in the law, the evasions of government officials who a) are funded in part by insurers’ campaign contributions and b) are addicted to fines and fees to balance books that groan under the weight of retirement and benefit liabilities to their government cronies.
The point is that the law has become untethered from safety and science/engineering and that all parties are basically admitting same.
We should insist on a new law that says congress must list WHICH of the enumerated powers gives them the right to enact any legislation they are proposing!!!!!
My co-worker from Thailand told me an amazing story. Apparently in Thailand, often the cops go around and pull people over and demand payment or they will write you a bunch of tickets. You give them ~$20 and they go away. I heard this about a few other 3rd world countries also.
While shocking, if you really think about it, the police in Thailand are actually more honest and less corrupt than the police here.
At least they are upfront about what they want and you only pay them. Unlike the BS games they play here, with ticket quotas, overtime, defensive driving courses, jobs for judges, and insurance rate jack ups.
Does anybody really believe a cop pulling someone over going 75mph in a 65mph is really doing it for safety. Hell no, they want your $$$$. Sad to say, I’ll take the Thailand system over ours.
I have been thinking about the small-l libertarian solution to over-lawing of society, including how it relates to traffic laws.
I have come to what seems to me a reasonable solution that as the Benign Dictator of the transition to a libertized society I would seek to impose.
< big grin as people go ape-crap twisting their minds around the idea of a “Benign Dictator” “imposing” anything >
—Speed limits become “speed advisories”. You can drive as fast as you individually believe to be safe and prudent, without being molested.
HOWEVER: if you collide with another vehicle in your own flow of traffic while exceeding the speed advisory, you are automatically at fault (the same way you are currently held at fault if you rear-end somebody). Collision free? Put the hammer down!
—Stop signs become “yields”. No need to come to “a complete stop”; it is sufficient to slow enough to determine whether there is conflicting traffic before proceeding.
HOWEVER: Blow through it like it wasn’t there at your own risk, as apart from one exception (below) if there is a collision, you are automatically at fault.
I’ll probably get the most flame for this one:
Drugged/drunk/distracted driving? Not an offense. Nope. Not by itself. Stagger out of a bar, get your car started, and make it home at 12 MPH with your left blinker on, you’re golden.
HOWEVER: Really bad idea. If you collide with anything while in that condition, you are automatically at fault. Doesn’t matter if the other driver was “speeding” (see above), ran an advisory stop sign (this is the exception!), whatever. You lose. Kill somebody, charged with deliberate murder.
I think you need to re-read the article first. By "House" they mean Michigan's State House, not the federal House of Representatives.
Oops, thanks. But, of course, the Federal Government have done this before with the 55 MPH speed limit, but no excuse for posting before reading.
I agree on stop/yield. That should be couched in greenhouse gas/climate change terminology.
Your point toward speed is hard to quantify without government imposed black boxes in each car. He was speeding. No, I wasn’t.
They’ve been able to determine speed based on such information as skid marks and collision damage. Exact figures would not be necessary in my example.
I was just thinking about that the other day. Antilock brakes leave no skid marks.
I would also distrust collision damage. Different cars damage differently and a secondary collision changes the game.
If the standard is perfection, we’ll never get there.
Well, if I’m subject to being charged with an infraction, yes, I expect utter perfection. Otherwise, the system is rife with potential for error or corruption.
Well you can relax :
They’re not exactly lining up to beg me to impose my pipe-dream “edict” anyways.
Though it might be fun, in that alternate universe where they do, to put our heads together for a solution!
Have a great weekend :)
I was stationed at Ft. Riley, KS for three years in the early 90s. For all the things I didn't like about Kansas, I will give credit to the Kansas Highway Patrol. There are some long, flat, straight stretches of I-70 running east and west from Ft. Riley. It was my experience that on late nights when there was little traffic, as long as you weren't driving erratically, they were pretty lenient with anything under triple digit speeds.
In theory, I agree with you. Several years ago, I was in Michigan driving down I-696 at 3am. I was doing 80+ in a 70 zone. 5 guys on go fast bikes blew by me doing at least 130.
I was the only car in sight, they maintained good follow distance and realized I wasn’t going to panic.
I didn’t care at all. It looked like fun under somewhat decent conditions.
but no excuse for posting before reading.
Wouldn’t want a federal law but maybe Jim should have fines for speed reading and drive by posting.
I was guilty of one of my biggest complaints: Posting after reading the headline, no speed reading involved. I guess that would be running through a red light.
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