Don't keep speed limits artificially low [Letter]

March 07, 2014

Why would The Sun wish to keep safety lower than could be the case with artificially-low posted limits on the safest types of roads, the interstates and equivalent freeways, when the number of fatalities on those roads averages one per year ("Sixty-five (still) saves lives," March 4)?

The Sun must be in the financial pocket of the groups that make money from speed traps on safe roads where the posted limits are set far below the 85th percentile speeds of free-flowing traffic under good conditions. This financial pocket includes governments that run the speed traps for ticket revenue, the insurance industry that makes money from surcharges to safe driving policyholders that get tickets in the speed traps, and the federal government that funds "special enforcement grants" to local governments that agree to ticket safe drivers using overtime costs to fund the officers to financially prey upon the safe drivers for money.

Engineers who care about safety rather than ticket revenue know that setting posted speed limits at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions produces the highest safety with the fewest crashes and smallest chances for governments to run predatory speed traps. Maryland would enhance safety by posting rural freeways at the 85th percentile speeds which would be 70 and 75 mph in most cases, with a few of the best areas posted at 80 mph to match the current, actual, safe traffic flow speeds.

Will safety prevail? Probably not. Maryland legislators prefer to set laws to enable predatory speed traps for revenue and to support the fear and superstition-based methods of setting less safe speed limits rather than the scientific methods to set the safest limits that produce the fewest crashes.

Ticket revenue trumps safety in Maryland.

James C. Walker, Ann Arbor, Mich.

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