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Crashes, injuries spike after Michigan boosts freeway speed limits to 75 MPH (bridgemi.com)
37 points by awnird 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments

The barrier to entry for getting licensed to operate a vehicle in the United States is way too low. People don't respect what they are doing when operating a motor vehicle.

The deadly issue with driving is that it's just too easy. 99.999% of the time things go just as well as you'd like without much active thinking. People get lulled into a false sense of security and get bored and start distracting themselves with their phone or whatever else.

We really need to redefine a car trip as a way to get you somewhere safely rather than quickly.

> The barrier to entry for getting licensed to operate a vehicle in the United States is way too low.

That's because we've built the country since the 1950s in such a way that a car is a necessity rather than a luxury.

IMO, title has an implication between speed and crashes that is not fair.

The article even says (1) not enough data (2) most crashes leading to the increase aren't in areas where the limits increased.

This is a scalding hot take of an article that says nothing of substance, and commits many logical fallacies along the way.

But, most people never read past the headline, so I’m sure this will get passed off as gospel.

Yup, from the article: "Police did not identify speed as a primary factor in any of the 14 fatal crashes on 75 mph freeways in 2018, the highest number in five years."

Remember that power required to push air out of the way is quadratic with speed. The 10 mph increase here is a 30% increase in kinetic energy in any given crash.

You are right that kinetic energy scales quadratically, but it have nothing to do with "pushing air". The kinetic energy formula is the same in a vacuum.

You really mean that when the driver releases the break pedal, the car immediately slows down at a rate faster than had the car been moving slower initially. It's a safety feature it seems.

In other words, the media source BridgeMI, has some sort of underlying reasoning misleading the people who read it. Because at a simple read, "more people died cause the speed limit went up", even though speed was deemed not a factor.

Would this qualify as fake news? Misleading news? Or something else?

It's an ignorant police force quoted, mostly.

Here's a hot take for you: Speed is a primary factor in any fatal crash. People don't die in low speed accidents.

Of course, if the cars involved were not going fast, our stone-age brains would not make stupid decisions and cause crashes. We are neurologically well equipped to navigate speeds up to about a fast run, past that we are pushing our abilities.

But that's not even the point. Traffic accidents happen everywhere, all the time, but those at high speeds are more likely to be fatal. The insurance companies have done the math, they don't make this stuff up.

When you're on a highway, speeds fast enough to cause fatal crashes are a given. When speed is cited as a primary factor in an accident, it means speed that is too fast for the conditions.

> Speed is a primary factor in any fatal crash. People don't die in low speed accidents

Except that's not true. Most fatal accidents occur off of highways, despite the fact that highways have much higher speed limits.

Maybe we have different definitons of high speed. A pedestrian who gets hit by a car going 30 km/h will most likely survive, while one hit at 50 will most likely not. Likewise, a car crash at 70 km/h is very survivable by driver and passengers (in a modern car), while one at 120 is normally not, unless they are lucky.

Higher speeds are safer where there are no barriers to hit, no pedestrians, no traffic lights, etc. The driving environment is relevant for deciding what is too fast.

I believe there have been studies that indicate traffic accidents on freeways increase as the speed delta between vehicles increases.

My opinion (biased, obviously) is that the people who choose to drive significantly below the speed limit are more of an issue than those who choose to drive above it.

Someone driving over the speed limit is going to be monitoring the traffic ahead of them. Those are the people they are most likely to interact with.

Someone driving exceptionally slowly is much less likely to be monitoring the traffic behind them adequately enough to know when someone is approaching them rapidly from behind.

Further, the amount in excess of the speed limit that the vast majority of people would be willing to drive is a fairly small delta (10, maybe 15mph max). The amount below the speed limit someone may choose to drive is much larger, mostly by definition of it being any value from zero to the speed limit.

A habit I picked up a few years ago thanks to seeing others doing so is to put on my 4-way flasher hazard lights if I'm driving significantly below the speed limit (usually due to snow or super heavy rain). It helps alert people that "hey, this person is going slower than you probably expect them to be, so pay attention"

4-ways are often very under-utilized.

Whenever I get into a car for the first time, one of the first things I do is figure out where the 4-ways are, and try to remember that piece of information so that I can turn them on as a reflex, if needed.

Except that’s illegal almost everywhere. Maybe it shouldn’t be.


That list looked to me like well over half said either explicitly "permitted" or "prohibited except to indicate a hazard", which I believe the use cases listed qualify under.

I wonder how many collective hours have been saved, and what the ratio is between the value of that and the increased accident rate. I'm sure there's a suitably mercenary cost-benefit analysis that would be interesting to see.

My experience, limited though it is, is that in Detroit nobody drives the speed limit or anything close to it. 85 in a 65 zone was standard.

In my opinion, weather plays a substantially larger factor than the speed limit. We've had some nasty icy roads the past few winters.

I was wondering if there's a correlation with weather for the particular crashes recorded.

A major highway in Ontario (402) was increased from 100 to 110 and the police said the current results are that there's no significant changes in crashes.

Now I can't find the article. So take this with a grain of salt.

I doubt Michigan drivers are objectively worse so I imagine it's just a bad finding.

75 on a new car is far different than 75 on my 99 Honda accord. Also, once people get used to winter, they get a little cavalier on these snowy Midwest roads. Did the statistics control for this year's weather?

If you look at stats for temperate climates, the chief factor is normally not the winter but the summer. In snowy weather, drivers actually tend to slow down, and even though many go off the road, they are slow crashes with few fatalities. A long, hot summer is deadly though, because it means more miles travelled and hence more accidents. And crashes in the summer tend to be fast, and thus more deadly.

Of course they couldn't control for weather, that's one reason they need three years of data for the study.

I'm really big on the future of self-driving cars and how they'll help with problems like this. Not only will they be inherently safer at any speed, my guess is that drivers won't fret as much to exceed the speed limits.

If you're able to keep your eyes off the road and work on your laptop, read a book, take a snooze, whatever... are you all that worried about whether you're doing 70mph or 80mph?

I think that a lot of the aggression of drivers is due to opportunity cost. They feel like they could be doing something else with their time and that the driving part is a waste.

Look at those signs- 65 is the limit for trucks, you have cars pushing 80, and some drivers like the one interviewed in the article driving 70. A higher variance in vehicle speeds makes traffic less safe.

Before the change, Michigan had the highest car insurance rates in the US. I am sure this will make them even higher. Having policies that make car insurance expensive is an unforced drain on the statewide economy. Sensible policies would add about $1200/year in disposable income per car in Michigan.

Michigan also has auto insurance changes due to take effect in July 2020 that will also wind up affecting their rates, notably the lifting of the heavy Personal Injury Protection coverage:

"Michigan has the highest car insurance coverage requirements in the U.S. — most notably Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance with unlimited, lifetime medical coverage for car accident injuries. Michigan's insurance requirements guarantee many health and recovery benefits to injured drivers, including reimbursement for lost wages, in-home nursing care, and specialized medical treatments." [1]

[1] https://www.thezebra.com/resources/research/michigan-car-ins...

(I didn't realize their rates were THAT much more than surrounding states... ouch.)

I think their rates are high because they have one of the highest rates of both deer-vehicle hits and drunk driving.

I am shocked that the author, much less editor, would allow this to be published. There is nothing but conjecture. I guess websites really will say whatever click-bait title gets them the most traffic.

What I think this article gets right, even if accidentally, is that speed is not a great factor in determining traffic crashes or the outcome on human life. While the point of the article seems lost in it’s nonsense and meandering story, there are a couple of good points:

1) The one person who says “I go 80 anyway so I like it”. People drive whatever speed they want regardless of speed limit. Case in point, the person who said “I still drive 70 because 75 is too fast”. There’s nothing inherently dangerous about speed until you hit something. Cars hitting each other is much more likely when the speed differential increases.

2) The person who talks about the economy having more of an impact on driving behavior than speed limits. I’d love to see more data on that, but regardless of if it’s true, we know that the speed limit doesn’t have the biggest impact on driver safety, and we know that thanks to

3) The Autobahn referenced at the very end of the article, and other no-limit freeways that exist even in America. I had an opportunity to drive on some unrestricted sections of the Autobahn this past summer and even with the huge differentials in speed, drivers managed to not crash into each other.

I don’t know what the problem is so I don’t know what the solution is, but I can make a couple more observations. First, Germany has a law that your car has to be in proper working order and it’s taken off the roads if it’s not. Having spent a lot of time in Northern Michigan where this article takes place, there is no guarantee that cars on the road are working. As long as the car can move, people will drive it. Doesn’t matter how long they’ve been using the same brakes or tires. So when it comes time to avoid an accident, their car is not capable of stopping or maneuvering in time.

Secondly, drivers training in the US is abysmal. You’re expected to learn how to avoid collisions by yourself, and you’re expected to learn how to drive in bad weather (wind, snow, rain) by yourself, on public roads, with other drivers around you.

An extra five miles per hour on a limited-access freeway in an amazingly rural area should not impact anything at all, ever. There HAS to be other factors in play besides the speed limit.

This is total bullshit. Not one citation.

Any idea how to interpret the first chart?

this is also called clickbait.

such agencies will die out soon because they spread fake news.

hey bridgemi, I wish you unemployment soon!

I suspect one of the biggest impacts was revenue shortfall for the state troopers.

Also, 14 fatal crashes for the year. When numbers are that small, any variation makes for a big change in percentages.

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