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Speed Limit in Michigan

Crashes Spike After Michigan Increases Speed Limit to 75 mph

February 4, 2020

Does speed kill? Researchers are claiming increasing the speed limit in Michigan has increased the number of serious or fatal accidents. Three years ago, Michigan legislators voted to raise speed limits from 70 mph to 75 mph on 614 miles of rural freeways. The new law, which took effect in mid-2017, also increased the maximum speed for trucks, including semi-trucks, on those roadways from 60 to 65 mph. Traffic experts conducted extensive research to select roads where accidents were less likely to occur despite higher speeds. However, a recent study showed a higher number of crashes and injuries on freeways with the new speed limits than on other Michigan roads.

Which Michigan roads were affected by the speed limit increases?

According to Public Act 445 of 2016, the speed limit in Michigan was increased from 70 to 75 mph (and from 60 to 65 mph for trucks) on portions of the following freeways:

Interstate 69

  • I-75
  • US-10
  • US-31
  • US-131
  • US-127

These roads were the first in the Great Lakes region with speed limits higher than 70 mph. In addition, speed limits increased from 60 to 65 mph on approximately 900 miles of other Michigan highways. The combined total of 1,557 miles comprises about 16 % of total state freeway miles in Michigan.

What do these crash statistics mean?

Analysts from Bridge Magazine reviewed crash data from Michigan State Police for 2018, the first full year the new speed limit in Michigan was in effect.

Here’s what they found:

  • The statewide average for 2018 crashes on all Michigan roads increased by 3.4%.
  • The average number of crashes rose by 17.2% on the roads where speed limits were increased to 75 mph.
  • People were injured in 589 of the 4,264 crashes on those freeways, the highest number in five years.
  • Motorists died in 14 of those crashes, compared to 11 fatal accidents from 2014 to 2016.
  • Accidents on those roads also increased during the latter part of 2017, after the higher speed limits took effect.
  • Average driving speeds increased by 2 mph in 2018.
  • Approximately 40% of motorists were clocked at speeds exceeding 80 mph at a monitoring station on US-131 in 2018.
  • This is 38% higher than the percentage of speeders (10%) documented at the same location two years earlier. 
  • Data from 2019 shows almost half of all motorists (49%) were driving faster than 80 mph.

How do higher speed limits increase accidents and injuries?

Traffic safety experts agree that higher speeds increase the risk of serious accidents in a variety of ways.

  • Drivers traveling at higher speeds have less time to react if another motorist swerves in front of them or stops suddenly.
  • Many people exceed posted speed limits by at least 5%, especially on freeways. Therefore, a 75 mph speed limit increases the odds of drivers going 80 mph or higher.
  • The impact of a crash when vehicles are traveling at high speeds is greater, increasing the chances of serious injuries or death.    
  • Distractions caused by cell phones and other diversions impairs a driver’s ability to see and react to traffic situations. The risk of a deadly crash increase when distracted drivers are traveling at higher speeds.   

“Even the most careful driver can have a serious accident,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “When that happens, call us right away. Our experienced legal team will make sure you get the compensation you deserve.”

Michigan car accident law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.