August 17, 2018

First responders react to speed limit increase

Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — Speed limits are increasing on I-75 and M-65 in Arenac County, but for the most part police and fire agencies are not concerned about motorists being able to drive faster on the highways.

Per Public Act 445, passed in 2016, several hundred miles of state roads were approved for speed limits increase. I-75 in Arenac County was increased from 70 to 75 miles per hour and M-65 in Arenac County went up from 55 to 65 miles per hour.

“We don’t actually have any concerns,” said Arenac County Undersheriff Don McIntyre. “They have extensive studies done on the speed limit increase, and their studies show that, I believe it’s the 85th percentile, and if 85 percent of the traffic is traveling above the limit, it’s actually safer to move the speed limit up.”

McIntyre said a study was completed by the Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan State Police and a governor’s task force, the latter of which included Deputy Tim Robbins of the Arenac County Sheriff’s Department, and the study helped alleviate concerns he had at the initial proposal. McIntyre said he was worried people would push the envelope, but the studies showed that just because the speed limits were increased, it didn’t mean people would drive faster than they already were.

“MDOT and the governor’s task force do extensive studies on this sort of thing,” he said. “They know what they’re talking about.”

While McIntyre had no issue with the speed limit increasing, Standish Area Fire Authority Chief Mitch Oliver said he thought it was a bad idea. Oliver said he didn’t see how the state could justify raising the limits when the current speed limits are, in his opinion, not enforced.

“I think if they would enforce the law that was there, it would be fine,” he said. “If everybody was driving 70 and they said, ‘Hey, it’s safe to go 75,’ that would be one thing.”

“Whoever made that law is definitely not a first responder,” Oliver said.

The higher speed limits could lead to more severe traffic accidents due to more people traveling at a higher rate of speed, Oliver said.

“It’s just frustrating to see how people drive so fast, and we just gave them permission to drive faster yet,” he said. “Enforce the laws we have and then we’ll talk about increasing it.”

Other fire chiefs whose territory is on affected highways don’t see it the same way, though. Rick Kalosis, chief of the Moffatt Township Fire Department, said he doesn’t necessarily agree with it, but people are already speeding on I-75.

“The people are driving 80 mph anyways,” he said. “To me, I think it’s not a good thing, but they’re doing it and we have to live with it.”

Kalosis said crashes requiring fire department assistance will occur no matter what the speed limit is.

“We’re going to have accidents no matter what,” he said. “It’s not really a concern.”

Twining-Mason-Turner Fire Chief Chris Grauherr said he trusted the work put in by the agencies that conducted the study before the law was passed.

“They’ve done the studies,” he said. “They know what they’re doing. That’s the way I look at it.”

Grauherr said he felt people are already traveling on M-65 at 65 miles per hour.

“I think that people are already driving that higher speed anyways,” he said.

New speed limits began to be posted on the affected highways May 1.

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Rezmom

I live in Michigan and winter in Arizona where the normal speed on Exspressways are 75 mph and most back roads are 60 mph. I know the population is not as high as Michigan but nears cities traffic can be just as congested! Speed in any state needs to be observed, the driver has to be the responsible one. I think the new speed limits will work well in Michigan as they do in Arizona.

| Friday, May 5, 2017 | Report this
NorthernMichiganGuy

Personally, I think this is a not good. Too think the governor and his task force has studied this well is being very naive. . Ever think increase in speed might generate more revenue. That was a reason years ago to lower the speeds to conserve gas. That resulted in less tax money!,,,..Common Sense ......Ask the insurance companies, first responders, hostipals about the horrific accidents in high speed crashes.

Monday, May 8, 2017 | Report this

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