Raise the limit

May 21, 1991

To hear the insurance industry tell it, only Governor Schaefer's veto stands between the pedal and the metal.

But we hope that the governor resists the pressure from that lobby and signs the bill passed by the General Assembly raising the speed limit on rural interstate highways from 55 to 65 mph. The new limit would not instantly turn Maryland highways into drag race corridors as some direly predict.

No doubt it's true that, statistically speaking, an increase of 10 mph in the speed limit might translate into a higher highway fatality rate in Maryland. But realistically speaking, that need not be the case. The fact is, while the present speed limit is 55, almost no one is ticketed for exceeding that limit by 10 mph. Rather, 65 mph seems to have been the de facto limit for sometime now. If the state police were to ticket every driver who exceeded 55, you'd have cars sidelined from here to Hagerstown.

The 65 mph limit merely recognizes the reality of that limit, as it is now recognized in some 40 other states. It doesn't mean that cars would then automatically test the limit up to 75. With sophisticated radar speed control technology now in wide use, there's no reason that the state police couldn't say in effect, "when we say 65, we mean business."

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