One bill halfway through the Michigan statehouse is intended to address “flaws” in how the state sets local speed limits.
Michigan law requires that an engineering and safety study be conducted to modify a speed limit. Additionally, speeds on state and local roads must be rounded up to the nearest multiple of 5 mph of the 85th percentile standard, a rule that sets the speed in a given area at or below that which 85% of vehicles travel in free-flowing traffic.
‘Flexibility’ touted for setting speed limits
House lawmakers voted 100-10 to advance a bill to the Senate that would update how the state observes the 85th percentile speed rule.
Specifically, HB4012 would give the state flexibility to round down the 85th percentile speed when necessary. Local officials could set the speed to any multiple of 5 mph within 5 mph of the 85th percentile.
Rep. Bradley Slagh, R-Zeeland, is the bill sponsor. He used the example of the 85th percentile speed on a roadway with an average speed of 37.6 mph. HB4012 would give the state flexibility to set the speed at 35 mph, instead of requiring a bump up to 40 mph.
“I’ve listened to community officials who are frustrated by the existing method because it bases local speed limits solely on metrics, not on common sense factors such as pedestrian safety, road visibility obstructions or proximity to parks and playgrounds,” Slagh said in a previously released statement. “We must make this very simple change to state law to empower communities to keep all road users safer.”
The legislation also would remove the requirement that an engineering and safety study be conducted to alter a speed limit. Instead, a modified speed limit could be determined in accordance with traffic engineering practices that provide “an objective analysis of the characteristics of the highway.”
Additionally, the bill would permit a speed limit to be set below the 85th percentile if an engineering and safety study showed a situation where hazards to public safety called for that. But a speed limit could not be set below the 50th percentile speed.
HB4012 awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee. LL