If traffic on Interstate 95 in Maryland seems slower than usual Sunday afternoon, you can thank a group that wants you to go faster.
A local leader of the National Motorists Association says 20 to 25 members will be doing something they loathe -- driving at the speed limit -- in an effort to fuel public support for higher speed limits on interstate highways.
The group's Maryland chapter will form a rolling roadblock as members drive 55 mph in most or all of the interstate's northbound lanes, coordinator Charles Terlizzi said. His group claims 500 members and favors raising the interstate speed limit to 65 mph.
Terlizzi says he expects the caravan to cause traffic backups for miles and convince people that the 55 mph speed limit is simply too low.
"There's no doubt in my mind that it is going to plug up traffic," the Potomac resident said.
But he said drivers who encounter his rolling protest should direct their aggravation elsewhere. "We don't want to get people mad at us. We want to get people mad at the governor," he said.
In May, Gov. William Donald Schaefer vetoed a bill that would have allowed officials to raise the speed limit on Maryland's rural interstates to 65. Schaefer sided with leaders of some insurance and safety groups who said a higher speed limit would lead to more traffic deaths and gasoline consumption.
At the time, Schaefer admitted that he has been driven in his car above the legal speed limit. He promised to "try to stay at 55."
Terlizzi's group, of course, lobbied for the 65 mph bill.
Signs and banners posted on cars in the caravan will identify the motorists' association and urge people to contact the governor about his veto, Terlizzi said.
Unless the weather is particularly bad, his group plans to leave by noon from a park-and-ride lot near the junction of I-95 and the Capitol Beltway, Terlizzi said. They will travel north on I-95 and reach the last exit before the Delaware state line at about 1:30 or 2 p.m., he said. After that, members will go their own ways.
"We will make sure we obey every traffic law," Terlizzi said.
Caravan drivers probably will leave the left lane open to allow emergency vehicles and other traffic to pass, Terlizzi said.
State Police spokesman Chuck Jackson said he was not aware of the association's plan and could not comment specifically about it.
"A 55 [mph] rolling roadblock?" Jackson asked. "We have been doing them for nearly six years, saving lives and fuel along the way."
"We for years have encouraged all motorists to obey the posted speed limits," Jackson said. At least half of Maryland's motorists do, he said.
If Sunday's event is successful, Terlizzi said, the association may repeat the rolling roadblock on different interstates in Maryland once a month until the 1992 General Assembly convenes in January.
Terlizzi said he also supports better driver education to teach would-be motorists about lane courtesy, right-of-way rules and procedures for merging into traffic.
The National Motorists Association claims 15,000 members nationwide who believe that states should set speed limit regulations based on highway design, traffic flow, road congestion and weather conditions.