OPINION

Jacobsen: New speed limits consider safety first

State Rep. Brad Jacobsen

The recent passage of the speed limits bill package out of the state House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has prompted some questions.

I want to make it clear that my intention has always been securing the safety of our Michigan motorists. I have spent over two years studying and discussing all of the variables that affect the setting of speed limits on highways, local streets, gravel roads and school zones.

I strongly support this legislation because it will ensure our government is setting speed limits based on nationally agreed upon best practices and scientific study. Additionally, the speed limits bill package updates what signage and traffic signals are to be used in schools zones to protect the well-being of our children.

If passed, we will rely on scientific data, safety studies, engineering studies and the 85th percentile to set speed limits on Michigan roadways.

Why do we need to update Michigan’s highway regulations? Currently, the law doesn’t always reflect what is truly safe on our roadways and the government should not be criminalizing people who are driving safely.

Studies show that a majority of Michigan residents are already traveling above the current 70 mph speed limit on our freeways. Experts also agree that motorists generally travel at speeds they feel are safe, and make adjustments for environmental conditions. If we set realistic limits, police can then focus their enforcement on those who are driving at dangerous speeds. Speed laws need to include a balance of safety and compliance.

Our current freeway infrastructure is designed to withstand speeds above 70 mph, and the majority of people recognize this and feel safe driving at or above 75 mph. As we continue to build our roads to handle higher speeds, and build our cars to be even safer, we need to update our laws to reflect current times.

The issue of speeds on gravel roads is another major concern I made sure was addressed in the bipartisan bill package. Gravel roads in Oakland and Wayne counties will have a maximum speed limit of 45 mph with the possibility for a community to request the speed to be lowered to 35 mph, if appropriate. There are families that are active on these roads, whether it be walking the dog, jogging or riding horses. Ultimately, people are driving too fast down dirt roads and making it unsafe for those who live and travel on these roads.

I have been working actively on these reforms for more than two years and I’m very pleased with the great progress we’ve made. I am looking forward to the increased safety we will soon provide to Michigan motorists.

State Rep. Brad Jacobsen is a Republican from Oxford.