Why increase the speed limit?

To the editor,

Starting next month several expressways and highways in Michigan will be bumping their speed limits up.

There has been some discussion on this in Lansing, and other parts of Michigan, for some time. It got me thinking on the why we needed the increase in speed. There really hasn’t been a great push for an increase in the speed limit from the general public in Michigan.

From a libertarian or more freedom aspect it seems like a good change at first glance.

However, my healthy skepticism of government kicks in upon further thought. The modern politician and government, for the most part, does not pass laws to help us gain more freedoms or to help out the regular old individual with anything. Therefore, there must be other motives for increasing the speed limit.

One of the reasons the Director at Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Kirk Steudle gave for increasing the speed limit was that people already drive at those increased speeds, contrary to the speed limit laws. This isn’t a very logical reason. If people will bump up their speed limit five or ten miles per hour over it is because they feel they won’t be pulled over for such a slight increase.

It is not because they are adjusting to what they feel is the correct speed to have. After the increases in speed limit are applied, drivers in Michigan will once again bump their speed five or ten over the limit, generally, because it is a small chance to gain more time and speed.

Speed limits are always broken. Why the increase then? I had some crazy ideas. The increased speed limits coincide with the increase in gas taxes in Michigan. Increased speed on the highways and expressways are at speeds where gas mileage decreases. This means more visits to the gas pump and more tax money for Michigan’s government.

This will be used to “fix our roads” of course.

It has been Governor Rick Snyder’s, and many others in the state government’s, white whale (Moby Dick reference). They have been obsessed with gathering money to “fix our roads”, build bridges to Canada, etc. Just a thought.

Maybe auto insurance companies have some new ideas with this as well. Increased speeds on the roads means increased danger and perhaps more accidents. This could mean higher insurance costs for us, and maybe more money for the insurance companies. These are just a couple thoughts I had when answering the why. As I said, we know the law isn’t made to help us.

There are some real concerns with the increase in speed limits around Michigan. For instance, with the federal government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and other regulations placed on automobile makers, our automobiles are only getting smaller and weaker. Thanks to environmentalists’ and government demands on fuel mileage, combined with the increased speeds, car wrecks on Michigan’s roads could become uglier and more fatal.

Maybe I shouldn’t be this cynical, I guess. After all, the government in Lansing probably just wanted the best for me. The best for me in this case is to get to my destination a few minutes earlier, right?

James L. Brown

Big Rapids

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