Drivers in many parts of Michigan are accustomed to a standards upper speed limit on roads of 55 miles per hour on two-lane surface streets and 70 mph on expressways. However, drivers in Northern Michigan have a very different experience where 2 lane highways can be posted as high as 65 mph and 75 on limited access highways.

Should those higher limits be applied more broadly across Michigan?

The question came up recently on Reddit was the question was asked about raising more rural highway speed limits to 65.

Some people may hate, but I believe we need some change.

Particularly in Southern and Mid Michigan, there's a lot of Main roads that are desolate and flat, (Such as the Thumb), that are still 55. We should make these roads 65 mph, as it would help the flow of traffic.

Though there is likely lots of engineering and study that goes into determining which highways get the more permissive speed limit, to a lay driver, there does seem to be some arbitrariness to how the speed limits are assigned.

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Consider: I-69 between Lansing and Flint gets the 75 mph expressway speed - the southernmost in the state to the best of our knowledge - and somewhat surprising considering travel between two of the state's largest metro areas.

On the flip side of the coin, and raised on the Reddit thread, would be a highway like M-115. Cutting diagonally between Clare and the Lake Michigan shore in Northern Michigan, the popular highway is limited to 55 in a region where some highways do see a more permissive speed.

The image above shows M-28, the longest highway in the state at is junction with I-75 south of Sault Ste Marie showing the 65 mph speed limit on the two-lane highway.

A traffic engineer did chime in to share from an industry professional's viewpoint the impact of higher speed limits:

speed literally has an exponential affect on the severity and fatality rate of a collision. In general, fatality rates double for every 10mph increase in crash speed. I've read some pretty gruesome crash reports in my time and you will not be getting any agencies sign-off on higher speed limits because of the safety concerns. The Michigan legislature forced MDOT to go to 75 MPH on some freeways as they have the power to do it without the burden of the consequences.

I realize people will drive at the speed they feel most comfortable, but that doesn't mean that traffic and safety professionals want to be responsible for the lives lost from driving fast.

So are there stretches of roadway in the state that deserve higher speed limits or is it a recipe for disaster on the roads?

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