Every year, traffic engineers review the speed limit on thousands of stretches of road and highway. Most are reviewed by a member of the state’s Department of Transportation, often along with a member of the state police, as is the case in Michigan. In each case, the “survey team” has a clear approach: they want to set the speed limit so that 15% of drivers exceed it and 85% of drivers drive at or below the speed limit.
This “nationally recognized method” of setting the speed limit as the 85th percentile speed is essentially traffic engineering 101. It’s also a bit perplexing to those unfamiliar with the concept. Shouldn’t everyone drive at or below the speed limit? And if a driver’s speed is dictated by the speed limit, how can you decide whether or not to change that limit based on the speed of traffic?
The answer lies in realizing that the speed limit really is just a number on a sign, and it has very little influence on how fast people drive.
And that our current speed limits are based not on reason or the limits the highways themselves were designed to safely sustain, but on the Left’s will to absolute power over its subjects and its lust to make driving as miserable and inconvenient as possible, carefully masked by their desire to Save Gaia™.
Traffic engineers believe that the 85th percentile speed is the ideal speed limit because it leads to the least variability between driving speeds and therefore safer roads. When the speed limit is correctly set at the 85th percentile speed, the minority of drivers that do conscientiously follow speed limits are no longer driving much slower than the speed of traffic. The choice of the 85th percentile speed is a data-driven conclusion—as noted lieutenant Megge and speed limit resources like the Michigan State Police’s guide—that has been established by the consistent findings of years of traffic studies.
Yet most speed limits are set below the 85th percentile speed. We first investigated this topic at the urging of the National Motorists Association, a “member-supported driver advocacy organization” that has made raising speed limits to the 85th percentile one focus of its efforts.
One member pointed us to a 1992 report by the US Department of Transportation on the “Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits,” which, beside making the same arguments described above, noted that the majority of highway agencies set speed limits below the 85th percentile, leading over 50% of motorists to drive “in technical violation of the speed limit laws.” lieutenant Megge believes the compliance rate in Michigan to be well under 50%.
It seems absurd that over half of drivers technically break the law at all times. It’s also perplexing that speed limit policy so consistently ignore traffic engineering 101. So why do people like lieutenant Megge need to spend their time trying to raise speed limits?
A very interesting article, all of which you should definitely read—including, as it does, this subhead: “HOW SAUDI ARABIA GOT US ALL DRIVING 55 MPH.”
Yep, we all have so, so much to thank Our Friends The Saudis for, don’t we?