Maryland Could Soon See 70mph Speed LimitAuthor: Portner & Shure
Yesterday, Maryland lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of increasing the maximum speed on interstate highways to 70mph. The next step is sending the bill to Governor Hogan and await his approval or disapproval. Even if he signs the bill into law, it does not mean that the 65mph speed limits will be required to increase to 70mph. The Maryland Department of Transportation has said increasing speed limits will still be determined on a case by case basis, even if this bill becomes law. The Western Maryland delegate who sponsored the bill would like to see the speed limit increased on Maryland’s highways because it would save travel time that “adds up over time.”
If the bill becomes law, Maryland would be the 23rd state with a top speed limit of 70mph, but just the 5th in the highly-populated northeast (Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia). This increase would still be far below the nation’s top speed limit of 80mph in four western states.
Opponents of increased speeds “equate higher speeds with more deaths.” While speeding has been proven to be a leading cause of car accident deaths, distracted driving still leads the way, with drunk driving not far behind.
Maryland’s current top speed limit is 65mph, but even that is used on few highways throughout the state including Interstates 95, 70, 97, portions of 83, and U.S. 50, among a few others. State transportation officials calculate appropriate speed limits “by relying on how fast 85 percent of traffic moves under normal conditions, as well as taking road conditions and past accidents into account.” Further, AAA officials say that “70mph is not too high for certain parts of the state.” “While we (AAA) consistently advocate for ways to decrease traffic congestion and increase motorist mobility, which increasing speed limits often does, our primary concern remains the overall traffic safety of motorists on our roadways.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety contends that “any increase in speed makes crashes more likely and more damaging.” Although it “gets people to their destinations a little faster…, it doesn’t come without a cost.” As is the case with everything in life, there are costs and benefits. As Maryland drivers know, people speed on every roadway, especially on I-95, I-695, and I-83, with no regard whatsoever for the posted speed limit. A 5mph increase will likely not make a huge difference because the same fast drivers will continue to drive fast and the “slow” drivers will continue to drive within the speed limit. More must be done to combat distracted driving (i.e. texting while driving) and drunk driving in order to lower the number of driving deaths, which are more significant problems and leading causes of car accident deaths than speeding.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident or has died as a result of their injury suffered in a Maryland crash, and would like more information, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free case evaluation or visit us online.