Speed Limit Up, Fatalities Down In Maryland

On July 1 1995, Maryland raised their Interstate speed limit to 65 after prodding from the Chuck Terlizzi and his Maryland chapter of the NMA. Opponents projected deaths would rise. As usual, they were wrong.

In the first nine months after the speed limit went up, there were nine fewer people killed on the affected roadways as compared to the same highway during the same period one year earlier. The number of fatal accidents dropped too, from 19 to 11.

However, not all Interstates had higher limits. Of those still posted at 55, there was an increase in the number of people killed, up one from 33 to 34.

Police naturally cite their "stiff enforcement" of the new, higher limit as the reason that fatalities haven't increased. Just remember that the same police organizations said "55 means 55" when it was law, yet it was common knowledge that 55 really meant 65, maybe 70. But the truth is, the higher limits are more self-enforcing than the police would like to admit. When the limit was 55, 50 percent of the drivers were traveling 62 mph. Now that it's 65, that same number of drivers are traveling 63 mph. A whopping 1 mph increase, despite a 10 mph jump in the posted limit. It should be noted that this finding is consistent with national results obtained in the first year of the then-new 65 mph speed limit in 1987.

Further good news may come for Maryland's drivers. The state, now freed from federal speed limit oversight, may raise the speed limit to 60 or 65 on the following roads: parts of US 50 on the eastern shore and west of the Bay Bridge to I-97, the US 13 bypass at Salisbury, I-70 between the Baltimore beltway and US 29, and all of I-81. These roads are likely candidates because they were submitted for federal approval last year and turned down.

To make sure this happens, you must contact:

State Highway Administration
707 N. Calvert St.
Baltimore MD 21202
Fax: 410-333-4417

Source: NMA's Web Page, http://www.motorists.com/mdlimit.htm

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