• Jul 3, 2010
It's probably a safe bet that many Autoblog readers find speed limits very annoying in general. To that end, it turns out that a significant number of limits in Michigan may, in fact, be illegal. Researchers have known for years that when it comes to safety, speed limits should be set at the 85th percentile traffic flow speed. The reality is that most drivers move along at what they consider to be a safe speed for the conditions regardless of the posted limit. To minimize accidents, the limit should therefore be the speed at which 85 percent of the drivers are moving.

In 2006, the Michigan legislature passed a law requiring speed limits to be set based on such traffic studies. Despite that law, many municipalities have not conducted studies of their own and are maintaining artificially-low speed limits. In many cases this is being done to prop up speeding ticket revenues. Because of the law, drivers who feel the speed limits are too low have challenged their tickets and had them dismissed if no traffic study has been done. Even Lt. Gary Megge, head of the Michigan State Police Traffic Services Section, finds it "reprehensible" that communities are not following the law. Hopefully, publicizing this practice will get cities and towns to follow the law - you know, the same way they expect drivers to.

[Source: Detroit News | Image: Dwightsghost]


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  • 49 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The 70mph freeway speed limit in Michigan is illegally underposted - it is NOT based on 85th % vehicle speeds. Also, where are the 65mph limits Michigan used to have on 2-lane roads before the 55mph nonsense started in 1974?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nice story. Next time use the correct state's police car. The picture shows a New York State Trooper, not Michigan.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @fabadabean1
      My reply to you didn't post.... arrh

      To prove it in CA you need to request the latest traffic study for that stretch of road at your city offices. Its public info. based on the traffic study is where the speed limit should come from. I was ticketed in a 35mph, the traffic study said it should be 45mph. I proved to the judge that is was a speed trap (illegal in CA) no ticket for me then :) Also I did it with a Trial by Written Declaration - all through the mail. Also if the traffic study is not current (4 years) or non-existent (for non residential roads I'm assuming with a speed limit of over 25mph) then there is no basis for local law enforcement to base a speed limit on and that should be thrown out too.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This story makes me miss the Merc Maurader!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Communists
      • 4 Years Ago
      The sign shown in the picture, showing EXIT Speed is a caution sign for trucks. This speed is a considered safe speed for trucks exiting a highway to prevent rollovers. If the cop in the picture pulled the car over for speeding it was probably for something he was doing prior to entering the ramp.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Jeez, it's just a picture used to provide a graphical element for the page template, don't be so literal. Also, it's an advisory speed for all traffic, not just trucks. It's supposed to be arrived at by established highway engineering methods (which I suppose is indirectly related to truck roll-overs). No, you don't have to obey it, most people don't. Regardless, advisory speeds give you some idea of the severity of the exit no matter if you're driving a big rig or a Porsche.
      • 4 Years Ago
      to sugaki who wrote this

      " cops and state troopers make a lot of money. Starting for California Highway Patrol is around 62k last I checked. It just goes up from there. Count their fat pensions package and relatively early retirement compared to other industries, and they pay really really well "

      I am not sure if you mean that in just a information way or a nasty way, but I think all cops deserve the pay they get, I would never ever put my butt on the line for no one but my closet friends and family's, while these cops put their life's on the line every day for us all. They more then deserve that pay rate IMO.What is SAD IS THAT LAWYERS MAKE MORE THEN POLICE OFFICERS

      I for one would rather a cop make more then a lawyer makes
        • 4 Years Ago
        Cops aren't much more imperiled than fast food workers and cashiers at liquor stores and gas stations. But fast food workers and cashiers don't pull down nearly the same wages.
        • 4 Years Ago
        62k isn't a lot of many for a job which risks your life.
        • 4 Years Ago
        -many +money
      • 4 Years Ago
      I always thought it was crazy how there would be a large open highway with 4+ lanes and the limit is 55 mph. Especially when everyone runs 75-80 anyway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Kind of like I-94 through Detroit. NO ONE does 55 through that stretch. Even the freakin semis are doing 65 - 70.

        There are local four lane roads that should be 35 or 40 but are set at 30 for no apparent reason (a stretch of Oakwood Blvd. through Melvindale, MI is like that). I could understand if there were houses on that stretch but it's all business.

        I find it surprising that a stretch of Ford Rd. through Dearborn is 50 but Southfield FREEWAY is set at 55. Why not 65? No one does 55 on that stretch either.
        • 4 Years Ago
        One good thing about Florida roads (in general) is that at least we tend to have reasonable limits in most places, with variable limits in some sections of our infamous Interstate 4.

        Not saying it is perfect, but if there's a stretch of good tollroad, for example, it isn't unusual to see a 70 MPH limit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @L.S.

        I'm glad to see that I am not the only one who continues to coast when I see a cop. Or if I feel i need to slow down a bit, I just down shift. But nevermind the fact that a lot of people don't even know what a downshift is let alone how to properly execute one!
        • 4 Years Ago
        And while doing 75-80 they see a cop on the side of the road and suddenly stomp on the breaks. How's that for safe motoring?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Living in a metro area of detroit, I fully agree with this article. There is a random 35mph zone in a 45 mph street and the next street over is 50 mph the whole way.....why so different? The police station is about a half mile from the 35 zone...
        • 4 Years Ago
        You at least have an idea of some of the speed limits in the area then.

        And WTF is it with everyone driving under the speed limit on some streets? There is a road that runs from Dearborn all the way down to whoever knows where called Pelham (turns into Allen Rd.). Speed limit in Dearborn is 40 (35 for one block but there are houses there and Dearborn maintains it) and then probably down somewhere near I-75 in Southgate it goes up to 45. The problem is that everyone wants to do 30 in the 40 zone (no fun when you want to take it from D-born all the way to Taylor) or 35 in the 45 zone. It drives me crazy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Unfortunately, that article in DetNews is more than 60 days old, so you can't read the article without paying for it (it's in the paid archives).
      • 4 Years Ago
      85%? Tell that to the folks regulating M11 from Stansted airport to London on Tuesday night... 30 mph anyone? With no cones in sight?

      That's why I love Germany. Not for unrestricted autobahns (not all are unrestricted) but for the discipline of moving at safe speeds determined by cirumstances.

      I did my share of driving on two continents and I have to admit that I feel safest on German autobahns even in situations when I'm doing 100 mph and I'm to slowest car around.

      Because I know that 99% of drivers think for 99% of other drivers which creates a living organism that adjusts its speed and behavior according to what is going on a particular strech of road. Drive over to any other neigbouring country, let alone Britain with its ridiculous approach to road safety and speed control, and idyll is over to make room for some very bad jerk driving.

      The thing is, though, that it takes generations to achieve what they have in Deutschland.
        • 4 Years Ago
        From what I have read, the German Autobahn is one of the best highways. Illegal to pass on the right or tailgate, unrestricted at certain times in safe sections, and they even consider what the limit should be where it is limited. The U.S. interstate system is based of the Autobahn, but not enough. Someone needs to make Obama have an Eisenhower moment and send him to the Autobahn in Germany and realize how nice it is. When he gets back he can create jobs fixing the interstate system too!
        • 4 Years Ago
        hike15: when the requirements to get a driver's license here in the states are a bit more stringent than "have a pulse", then we can think about driving at Autobahn speeds.
        As it stands, I wouldn't trust most of the general cell-phone yakking public to drive safely at those speeds.

        / Spoken like someone who almost got merged into by another cell-phone yakking driver just yesterday.
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