Studies have shown that when drivers are traveling at the same speed on
highways, fewer accidents occur even if the speed traveled is faster.
But with pressure on to increase revenue from tickets, politicians want
to keep the limits low to pad the coffers of municipalities.
One Michigan senator believes that traffic experts should set the limits
and not politicians. Recently Michigan Sen. Rick Jones, who has 30-years
of experience in law enforcement, stated that the "85
th percentile rule" should be instituted in order to make the state's
highways safer and travel more efficient. In turn, however, this would
reduce revenue from speed traps; his opponents fear raising speed limits
will also increase highway fatalities.
But is this true?
The advocacy group, the National Motorists Association, says "no."
According to the president of the NMA, Gary Biller, the difference in speed
at which each vehicle is traveling is a major factor in crashes. If the
speed limit is set to what 85 percent of the other vehicles are traveling,
fewer accidents would occur.
Other states feel the same. Texas, Wyoming and Utah have passed legislation
raising speed limits to the 85 percentile. West Texas recently raised
limits to 85 mph on some roadways. Biller said, "the average speed
didn't change much."
Speed isn't the only factor in accidents, road conditions, visibility,
skill of the driver and distractions all play a part in crashes and after
the federal government gave back power to the states to set speed limits,
fatality rates fell and remain at historic lows.