Once again, highway speed devotees are desperately trying to raise the maximum speed limit on rural interstate roads in Maryland from 55 to 65 miles per hour. A similar measure earned a well-deserved veto last year. We hope this session's version doesn't get that far.
Hiking the speed limit to 65 on Maryland interstates makes no sense. These are hardly "rural" roads. Would you call traffic along I-83 north of Baltimore rural? The Kennedy Expressway north of Baltimore? Interstate 270 north of Gaithersburg? No, these are heavily traveled and often highly congested highways. The last thing we need on these roads is commuters being encouraged to press the gas pedal down to 65 or 75 or 85 mph.
The cost of a higher speed limit would be staggering. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calculated that in just the first three years after Congress permitted states to sanction 65 mph on interstates, 1,400 fatalities were directly attributable to the higher speeds. There were more deaths on Maryland's rural highways before the 55 mph limit was imposed, too.