Are Higher Speeds on Michigan’s Roads a Good Idea?

Two Michigan state senators want to raise the speed limit on Michigan’s thoroughfares.

Sens. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, are crafting legislation that would allow communities and the Michigan State Police to bump up the speed limit on all sorts of roads.

The proposal has initial support from the State Police, which along with the Michigan Department of Transportation and county road commissions, is responsible for setting speed limits on state highways and interstates, according to the Detroit Free Press, in an article that appears here.

While that may be true, “Increasing the speed limit could result in accidents with far more severe injures,” said Mindell Firm Attorney Alan Blatnikoff, an auto negligence specialist.

“An accident at 90 mph could wreak greater havoc than one at lower speeds. I worry that faster speed limits on our highways will have a damaging effect on accident victims. Car structures can’t withstand high-speed crashes, and safety restraint systems also tend to fail to keep occupants safe.”

There are three other reasons why high speed crashes are so much more damaging.

First, there is less reaction time for the driver, once an emergency is detected.

Second, there is less space to stop once a driver brakes.

Third, impact at a higher rates of speed increases exponentially. A 50% increase in speed increases energy by 125%.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reports that in 2011, nearly a third of all motor vehicle fatalities, occurred in speed-related crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that the economic cost of speed-related crashes is more than $40 billion each year. 1

In a high-speed crash, a passenger vehicle is subjected to forces so severe that the vehicle structure cannot withstand the force of the crash and maintain survival space in the occupant compartment. Likewise, as crash speeds get very high, restraint systems such as airbags and safety belts cannot keep the forces on occupants below severe injury levels.

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