Speedy interstates

March 19, 1991

Interstate highways were built for high-speed travel, which is why efforts to enforce the 55 mph speed limit often seem to be a losing battle -- especially on those long, deserted stretches of rural interstates. So maybe it's time for a closer look at raising the speed limit in some areas of the state. Last Friday the House of Delegates approved such a bill, raising speed limits to 65 mph on rural interstates; the measure now deserves a strong consideration in the Senate.

The Maryland State Police have traditionally opposed the higher limit for safety reasons and Governor Schaefer is also on record as opposing any change. However, 40 other states have raised speed limits on some interstates with no serious effects on safety, and supporters of the measure point out that with advances in fuel efficiency lower speeds don't necessarily translate into greater gasoline savings.

There's no disputing the safety value of reasonable speed limits. But when they are routinely flouted, as they are now on many Maryland roads, that argument loses some of its punch. For many stretches of uncrowded interstates, 65 mph is simply a more reasonable limit, and one that the State Police would be able to enforce more effectively.

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