Georgia not rushing to boost speed limit

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 3:45 PM
Last updated 3:48 PM
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ATLANTA -- On Friday, Kansas became the 14th state to raise highway speed limits above 70 mph, and just weeks before, Texas boosted theirs to 85 mph, but Georgia officials seem content in a middle lane.

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Lawmakers in Oregon are considering a boost.

All of the states with higher speed limits are west of the Mississippi River where long stretches of flat, straight, rural highways are more common. In the East, states like Maine, Kentucky and Maryland cap speeds at 65 mph, slower than Georgia’s 70 mph maximum.

The Western movement toward higher speeds hasn’t jumped the river yet. Even though Georgia legislators have recently introduced bills to eliminate helmet requirements for motorcyclists, eliminate driver’s licenses, and boost the penalties for hogging the fast lane, none have sponsored bills to raise the speed limit.

Rep. Keith Heard, D-Athens, authored the bill requiring slow drivers to yield to faster motorists in the left lane, but he thinks the speed limits should stay put.

“I’m inclined to leave things the way they are, with texting and all the other things that people are doing,” said Heard, who frequently lectures young drivers about how speeding has claimed the lives of people he’s sold insurance to in his 30 year career.

Heard was also a co-sponsor of a law that adds a $200 surcharge on speeding tickets for “super speeders” exceeding 85 mph on four-lane highways.

State law determines the maximum speed since 1995 when the federal government relinquished its authority. The Georgia departments of Transportation and Public Safety then set the actual speed limits on individual highways in consultation with federal recommendations.

The road design is another limiting factor, said Jill Goldberg, spokeswoman for the Transportation Department. Existing highways were designed to be safe at 5 mph above the speed limits in place when they were built.

“We wouldn’t go out and design a road for more than the maximum we could build it for,” she said.

For 20 years after the 1973 oil shortage, Congress held highway speeds to 55 mph to save gasoline. A lot of roads were designed and built in that period.

Another factor is geography, notes Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

“Comparing Georgia roads to Texas and Kansas is akin to comparing apples and oranges. Those states have miles of wide-open spaces without pine trees,” he said, adding that high speed is already a factor in one-third of Georgia fatalities.

The heart of the state’s current policy may have been summed up by Lt. Paul Crosper, a veteran trooper and spokesman for Public Safety, opposed to an increase.

“If you’ve got to go from Point A to Point B, just allow the allotted amount of time for when you leave,” he said.

 

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Melcher65
12
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Melcher65 07/05/11 - 03:58 pm
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..."eliminate helmet

..."eliminate helmet requirements for motorcyclists, eliminate driver’s licenses, and boost the penalties for hogging the fast lane"...

Eliminate Driver's Licenses??? Seriously?!?!

Sweet son
8234
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Sweet son 07/05/11 - 06:17 pm
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Melcher, drivers training and

Melcher, drivers training and other programs for younger drivers would surfice. You know that most of us old dudes realize that a driver's license is just another form of taxation. Sight tests for older drivers should be required but when the rest of us go to get renewed it is just a case of giving the State the money.

gnatman1102
6
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gnatman1102 07/06/11 - 12:15 am
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If GA removes requirement for

If GA removes requirement for driver's license, just don't drive into another state that requires possessing one to drive.

I'm a motorcycle rider. I can't see the desire to ride one without a helmet. However, I can understand that there are riders that like to ride sans helmet. They even feel it is their right to do so. My problem with the potential repealing of the GA helmet law is the potential impacts on my rights to not having to pay more in medical and/or vehicle insurance to cover for increases in head injuries as a result.

85 mph on rural interstate highways in GA will result in bad accidents. There is just to much traffic and too many drivers that treat the passing lane as a driving lane, and the most inside lane is a passing lane. It is not defined as a fast lane as so many people call it.

DuhJudge
203
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DuhJudge 07/06/11 - 07:16 am
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Stop complaining about the

Stop complaining about the price of gas if you are willing to drive 85 mph. A car's mileage rating is based on a max of 55. Consumption goes up geometrically above 55. What kind of energy policy would include more consumption? Oh.....a state with high gas taxes.

acorn1
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acorn1 07/06/11 - 11:52 am
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Today our speed limits are

Today our speed limits are based on roads that were built at a minimum maximum rated speed of 75 mph for cars that were on the road 40-50 years ago. With the vehicles we drive today that safety margin has been increased by at least 10 mph.

40-50 years ago cars took 3-5 times as far to stop at speed, the average tires weren't designed to handle higher speeds much above 75 mph, steering and suspensions were loose and hard to control at speeds above 75 mph.

While today all of our vehicles around the world are designed to safely cruise 140-160 kph ( 85-100 mph) minimum. Posted limits and safely traveled speeds today all over the world reflect this. Earlier this year we clocked the lowest death rate per miles traveled in the history of keeping records while we are traveling today on our roads and freeways at the highest speeds in history.

The lowest rated auto tire on the road today is 110 mph with most vehicles on the road equipped with 131 mph or higher rated tires. All vehicles come standard with ABS, traction control, PS, airbags, ect..... . Every rural freeway across the US has had safety related upgrades which allow them safely handle speeds in the 80-90 mph range. The proof is in actual data, a trip across the US will show anyone that wishes to see that we are today traveling today the safest in history at these speeds. It is ridiculous to still have posted limits that were first imposed to deal with safety issues that haven't existed in over 30 years.

And fuel economy, in the rest of the world autos are diesel powered and have no trouble getting 40-60 mpgUS at these speeds. Posting higher limits closer to actual travels speeds today, the 85th percentile speed will encourage all to purchase the most fuel efficient option to do the job they need.

acorn1
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acorn1 07/06/11 - 12:06 pm
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And continuing to keep limits

And continuing to keep limits low, as much as 20 mph below the 85th percentile speed across the US while drivers are voting with their feet that they feel safe at higher speeds is a useless political exercise. A exercise that has one goal, to fill government coffers with money and to allow insurance companies to raise our rates............

If we must have posted limits which I believe we don't need, then they should be 80-85 on rural interstates, 65-70 on urban freeways, and 65-70 on two lane highways. These are the speeds drivers have chosen today as where they feel safe and comfortable across the US on these roads, the 85th percentile speeds. And no amount of ticket writing campaigns to fill government coffers or threats of similar will change this.

Raise the limits to match reality, now!!!!!!

acorn1
0
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acorn1 07/06/11 - 01:12 pm
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The assumption that drivers

The assumption that drivers will always drive faster than the posted limit has been proved wrong across the west. In states where the enforced limit is 85-90 on freeways and 70-75 on two line highways speeding is not an issue. Drivers have picked the speed they wish to travel and these states allow them to safely travel at these speeds.

Failure to signal lane changes, following too close, or blocking the left lane which causes aggressive driving are what are ticketed in the west. Speed without reckless behavior is allowed because higher speed travel allows for quicker and safer travel between major cities. In the west higher speeds are not the danger, but the hours that are required to go from city to city. Higher allowed speeds have made these drives take hours less making them safer.

jcwconsult
4
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jcwconsult 07/06/11 - 10:25 pm
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IF safety were the true goal

IF safety were the true goal for posted speed limits (NOT true in most of the USA), the posted limit would be set at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions. This is the limit that tends to produce the smoothest traffic flow, the least speed variance, the greatest safety, and the fewest accidents. Note also that the posted limit has almost no effect on the upper end of actual travel speeds. If the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic is 77 mph, that will likely be true regardless of whether the posted limit is 75, 70, or 65. The science is on our website. If it makes sense to you, perhaps you will join us to help get ALL traffic laws and their enforcement done for safety purposes, NOT for revenue or to satisfy the "fear and superstition" reasons people who do not know the science use to push for less-safe artificially low posted limits. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI

jcwconsult
4
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jcwconsult 07/06/11 - 10:40 pm
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One addition. Ms. Goldberg

One addition. Ms. Goldberg points out the design speed item and says the roads were designed to be safe at 5 mph above the posted limit. When Interstates were built they were required to have MINIMUM design speeds of 70 mph and be posted for 70 mph as a MINIMUM in order to get the federal matching funds (usually 90%) to build the Interstates. If Georgia then designed with a 5 mph margin, and many states designed for more than the absolute minimum standards, then the roads have a minimum design speed of 75 mph. What does that mean? It means that the worst curves or hills on the entire road, the VERY few spots with the shortest possible sight lines in an emergency would support 75 mph. The other 99.9% of the miles will safely support speeds above 75 mph, and usually WAY above 75 mph in modern cars. Correct speed limits would use the 85th percentile speeds on the better parts of the road with RARE spots that would have warning signs and advisory speeds for those few curves or hills where the design elements were at the minimum standards. But, it is extremely unusual for states east of the Mississippi to use proper engineering of their speed limits. Almost all are under posted, either to increase ticket revenue or to satisfy the "fear and superstition" reasons people want less-safe lower posted limits. James C. Walker, NMA

DukeGanote
0
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DukeGanote 07/07/11 - 09:19 pm
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The Chronicle is wrong so

The Chronicle is wrong so many ways: Kentucky is 70-mph; Maine is on the verge of enacting 75-mph. Rural interstates account for under 8% of Georgia traffic deaths. Georgia is full of long, flat stretches that can and do handle speeds of 75+mph. 75-mph would just legalize what the citizen-taxpayer-roadowners already drive.
http://www.sddot.com/pe/data/Docs/speed2011.pdf
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2009/fi10.cfm

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