FLINT - As the world's best driver, I feel compelled to chime in on raising the freeway speed limit to 85 mph, which some is something Texas is considering. A Michigan State Police traffic expert recently told MLive Michigan lawmakers should consider the idea, as well.
I'm all for it if it applies to me only and not the rest of you. Most of you can hardly handle driving 70 much less 85. The only thing a higher limit would do is allow you to be awful drivers faster.
As someone who commutes daily to Detroit, I can't bear the thought of that.
In my first month of commuting, I've seen:
An old guy in the left lane drifting over to then grinding the side of his van against the concrete barrier for about 100 yards. He never once slowed down or seemed alarmed.
Eventually he meandered back into his lane. Then he noticed his exit, so he cut diagonally across three lanes of traffic to get there and was gone. I still wonder how the home scene went. Wife: "What the heck happened?" Driver: "Got me, honey. You know how bad some drivers are."
A middle-age man in a suit literally pounding his head off the steering wheel as he drove. My guess is he was listening to a Tigers game.
A woman driving with a pit bull on her lap. At least I think she was the one driving. Although
I don't want these people going faster. I want them on an entirely different freeway. In fact, I think there should be two freeways - one for them and one for me and a few other superior drivers. Not to brag.
That said, I do think a higher speed limit makes some sense for rural highways. I see no earthly reason people shouldn't be allowed to drive 85 mph between, say, Bay City and the Mackinac Bridge. Aside from summer Fridays headed north and summer Sundays headed south, that stretch of I-75 is empty nothingness. Let 'er rip.
Freeways during the work week in the lower half of Michigan are an entirely different story.
During rush hour in southeast Michigan you could make the speed limit 140 mph for all the good it would do you. You'll still be sitting still on what the Michigan Department of Transportation ironically calls "freeways." (Free to do what? Stew?) So what's the point of raising the speed limit when there's no way you'll ever reach it? Even if you did, you wouldn't want to, not unless you have a death wish. There are just too many cars and too many bad drivers.
If the idea is to speed up travel, we'd be better off following my driving commandments:
1) Thou shalt at all times use the left lane for passing and then move over to the right, under penalty of death.
2) Thou shalt grow a pair and not drop from 70 mph to 30 mph every time there's a car on the shoulder with a blown tire.
3) If thou art a truck driver, thou shalt not drive 55 ? mph and attempt to pass another truck going 55 mph.
Then, of course, there's the most important commandment of all: Thou shalt at all times endeavor to stay the heck out of Andy's way.
He has a very, very long way to go.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.