New speeds will require all of us to drive better

After they narrowly passing the Legislature in December, Gov. Rick Snyder has signed the bills to raise speed limits on certain Michigan highways. His spokeswoman told the Detroit Free Press that the governor’s office wanted to review which roadways would be affected before deciding whether to sign it.

The law will raise the speed limit on at least 600 miles of rural limited access freeway would to 75 mph and the speed limit on 900 miles of trunk line highway to 65 mph. Authorities would be required to complete speed studies on affected highways before speed limits could be changed.

The bills also include provisions that could lower speed limits on certain rural, gravel roads and in school zones when local officials request them.

We regret that Snyder signed the bills. We don’t believe raising speed limits on freeways or on state trunk highways will promote anything except more death and destruction.

Reversing decades of declining deaths and injuries on our highways, Michigan has had an uptick in driving fatalities the past couple of years. Raising speed limits can only accelerate that tragic trend. Certainly, speeds are not the only issue behind the increased mortality. But combining higher speeds with our other failings as drivers — texting and other distractions, aggressive and inconsiderate behaviors, disregard for the law — can only make things worse.

Police issued another warning this week, though, that dangerous speeds and risky behaviors will not be tolerated. The Livingston County Sheriff Department expects to charge the driver who caused the fatal 53-car pileup on I-96 in December with reckless driving or a moving violation causing death.

The moving violation deputies say he committed is violating Michigan’s basic speed law. The law requires motorists to drive at a careful and prudent speed that allows them to maintain control and stop safely in all driving conditions. The I-96 driver went too fast in icy, snowy conditions, lost control and killed three people.

Likewise, Michigan State Police troopers surprise motorists winched out of roadside snow banks with speeding tickets to complement their towing bills — because they wouldn’t have ended up there if they had been driving at a careful and prudent speed.

— Times Herald, Port Huron

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