Good Speed Limit Practice Saves Lives in the US
Award winning Michigan State Police officers show the way with life saving work on speed limits
Michigan State Police have long set an example of good practice in speed limit setting, achieving a 25% lower fatality rate than the US average. A recognised key to this success has been the setting of speed limits around the 85th percentile (the speed that 85% of drivers do not exceed), a scientifically based method previously used in the UK 1
, but replaced by the Labour government with the currently used mean (average), enforcement of which criminalises the natural driving speed of half the drivers on the road.
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory comments:
“The success in Michigan shows what can be achieved when speed limit setting is put in the hands of the expert engineers and officers, who understand matters of safe traffic flow and adhere to tried and tested methods, rather than pandering to the demands of an inexpert public minority for political reasons. Limits are set in Michigan by the Traffic Services division of Michigan State Police who have no political axe to grind. They are simply tasked with saving lives.”
The two awards were made by the Michigan Governor's Traffic Safety Advisory Commission Awards to First Lieutenant Thad Peterson and Lieutenant Gary Megge, who did a Powerpoint presentation about Establishing Safe and Realistic Speed Limits 2
. One award was for their work with setting 85th percentile posted speed limits on Michigan highways and principal county roads, and one for their work to revise road works zone speed limits with the principal rule of "45 mph Where Workers Present" (with higher limits maintained if no workers are at risk).
The ABD has long called for the 85th percentile method to be reinstated in the UK 3
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. As noted in: ANNEX E TO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT CIRCULAR ROADS 1/80.
2. Michigan State Police — Establishing Realistic Speed Limits Booklet & Pamphlet.
3. Posted speed limits set at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions rounded up or down to the nearest 5 mph interval will normally tend to produce these results:
- the smoothest and safest overall traffic flow with the fewest crashes
- the least overall speed variance
- the fewest conflicts between vehicles
- the allocation of traffic to the best and safest road types where the posted limits allow legal travel at the safest speeds, moving more traffic off residential roads and lanes onto main roads and motorways,.
- reduced tailgating
- reduced passing
- better lane courtesy/lane discipline with more slower vehicles in the slower lanes, leaving passing lanes clearer for passing vehicles, reducing the tendency for unsafe "lane hopping"
- correct and truthful information about the approaching speeds of vehicles for pedestrians and bicycles
- the best possible throughput of vehicles due to smoother traffic patterns
- better respect for the posted limits by drivers because most will understand them to be reasonable, a respect that is damaged or destroyed when the posted limits are set far below the actual safe speeds of travel
- better allocation of scarce police patrol resources to seek out and punish truly dangerous drivers such as the reckless, careless, drunk etc instead of catching safe drivers at around the 85th percentile speeds - drivers that have the lowest actual accident risks
- much better respect from drivers for police traffic officers and camera operatives because driving safely at around the 85th percentile speeds will no longer be a cause for financial punishment by those officers
Notes for Editors about the ABD
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