Monday night at the City Council meeting, Council took action on 3 road segments in the city to raise (that’s right, I said RAISE) the speed limits. We brought the issue forward to request these changes and here is why:
Public Act 85 of 2006, Section 257.627 Speed Limitations defines how speed limits shall be set. For roads not defined as highways, the following criteria are used to determine the speed limit of a road:
- number and type of access points to the road,
- engineered design speed of the road,
- a traffic speed study.
This law states that if these criteria are not used the speed limit is not valid and enforcement action is unlawful.
The majority of our speed limits were set by traffic study or as a part of a design of a road. But there are some that were set without studies before 2006 when the new law was passed. Before the new law local communities could basically set any speed limit they wanted and many times proper traffic engineering standards weren’t used. The result was inconsistent speed zones all around the state that were a problem to road users. Improper speed limits also could be used to create a “speed trap” where drivers are ticketed in an effort to raise revenue for the community and that is just plain wrong.
In many communities conditions change over time based on development in the area (new housing, new businesses) changes in road design are examples of changes. We then conduct traffic speed studies to determine what speed 85% of the drivers are driving and that is generally what the limit should be set. I know, I know, it seems counter-intuitive. It is one factor among several including crash history and severity, road surface, curves and hills as well as other conditions. Setting speed limits artificially low will not make the roads safer and no matter how many tickets police write, the 85% will never be lowered –I know because I have been part of operations where there was a demand to do just that-but it never worked. After a revolt by the driving public who received all those tickets, the effort was abandoned. Setting realistic speed limits is good for everyone.
The locations where the speed limits were changed are:
- Dexter north of Walton to Shimmons from 25 to 35 mph with a school zone of 25 mph next to school property when school is in session.
- Taylor Road between Joslyn and Giddings from 35 to 45 mph
- Collier Road between Joslyn and 750 Collier Road
Here is the slide presentation used by Lt. Ryan Gagnon to explain the proposed changes.
Here is a video from the Michigan State Police that explains how speed limits are set.