It is not even a close call. Gov. William Donald Schaefer shouldn't lose any sleep over the issue of increasing the maximum speed permitted on Maryland's "rural" interstates. The bill on his desk richly deserves a gubernatorial veto, the same treatment it received last time.
The governor has scheduled a hearing tomorrow so representatives of both sides can discuss raising the speed limit from 55 mph to 65. He won't learn anything new. Statistics clearly demonstrate that a higher speed limit leads to more deaths. In 1989, highway deaths increased four times faster in states with 65 mph limits. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 1987 and 1988, the higher speed limit caused 650 more deaths. Two studies in Michigan hTC showed that serious injuries rose 40 percent and moderate injuries 25 percent after the speed limit was raised to 65 on rural interstates in that state.
There is no scientific question that it takes a far greater distance to stop a vehicle traveling at 65 mph than at 55 mph. Drivers have much less time to perceive and react to trouble ahead. And, according to the laws of physics, that extra 10 miles an hour doubles the likelihood of death or injury because the force of the impact is so much greater.