Realistic Speed Limits Reduce Road Rage

In a recent article in The Detroit News, there was an interesting real-life example of how speed limits that are set too low can lead to an increase in dangerous, aggressive driving:

[Michigan State Police First Lt. Thad] Peterson said major contributors to aggressive driving include: speed limits that are too low for the road; traffic congestion; and poorly timed traffic lights. These act as instigators to drivers speeding, changing lanes and tailgating, all characteristics of “aggressive” driving.

Changes made to roadways where aggressive driving occurs have reduced reported incidents or road rage, he said.

As an example, Peterson pointed to changes made along a section of Interstate 496 outside of Lansing, which accounted for 40 percent of reported incidents of aggressive driving in that area. When the speed limit was raised from 55 mph to 70 mph, incidents of aggressive driving dropped to zero.

“The low speed limit frustrated many drivers, so they drove over the speed limit. This caused problems for other drivers who were driving at the limit. The speed differential caused the tailgating, passing, and speeding that were reported as ‘aggressive’ driving,” Peterson said.

His data also showed accident rates in that area also fell when the speed limit was raised.

Surprisingly, the higher speed limit also improved traffic flow, nearly eliminating all symptoms of rush hour congestion along that stretch.

For more information on speed limits, check out our speed limit section or browse our blog archives.

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17 Responses to “Realistic Speed Limits Reduce Road Rage”

  1. Stephen says:

    85% speed limits = better safety = better flow.

    Win for everone except for the "slower" is better crowd.

  2. Randy says:

    There is only one problem with this article. I have personally seen where the speed limit was slowed on a highway and the traffic flow was dozens of times better. The sign was not changed but the enforcement no longer allowed people to be driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone thus making a lot of jockeying for position in the lanes. When everyone was slowed to the 65 mph limit the traffic flow was great. If you needed to pass a slow truck you could do it very easily. The distance of this section of road was not that many miles either and made any difference in travel time insignificant.

    Maybe the 55 mph limit was the wrong limit for that road and I do not know because I was not there but to make a blanket statement that increasing speeds makes for better traffic flow is wrong.

  3. Randy says:

    And the number one reason for road rage is someone who thinks they are better than anyone else. Get the hell out of my way because you are driving 5 mph slower than I usually drive. I saw that again tonight. A person passed on a two lane highway a few miles out of town right next to a no passing zone and he beat me in town by about 10 seconds.

    All cities try to time their lights if possible. That is a poor excuse any more. It is not always possible to time the lights because traffic is going in two direction. Time it perfect in one direction and the traffic going the other direction stop at every light.
    Guess what. Many states have increased limits on many roads over the past 10 years. The death rate also went up in many states right after the change. All of the states in the mid-west had higher death rates right after they increased limits.

  4. James says:

    Lies. Not even good ones.

    I dare you. Find a traffic survey showing increased deaths with increased speed limits. In many cases, it's increased deaths with decreased speed limits.
    Example:Montana, who doubled the death rate when they imposed a statewide limit.
    Souce :
    Scroll down to the hard numbers at the bottom. 12 months before: 27deaths, 12 months after: 56 deaths

  5. […] I think there are a lot of contributing factors to road rage, and the road infrastructure is one of them. Artificially low speed limits, poorly timed traffic lights, and poorly designed interchanges all add to driver frustration. I was reading in the National Motorists Association blog today that Michigan authorities have started to address this problem by setting reasonable speed limits on some of their thoroughfares. […]

  6. People need to find an outlet for their ROAD RAGE.
    We like to think of  it more appropriatly as Road Rude which is much more prevalent. It can add up to Road Rage but that should not happen if you play the Traffic Treats game. It's a game you play in your car that gives you a point for every car that slows your progress UNREASONABLY.  When you win you get chocolate that comes with the game or a Starbucks card or substitute your own treat. It is a primarily a Christmas gift. I know the game sounds simple but at the moment of being rudely cut off on the road it is a perfect outlet to have just scored a point. If you want to see it go to  &nbsp ; 

  7. Randy says:

    James give us the reference that the biased NMA report found their data from.

    James here is a report you can stick in your ear.

    It shows that when the National Speed limit was put into effect the death rate dropped significantly then when they added emphasis on DUI laws it went down more and then when they added seat belt laws it went down even more. When the National Speed limit was removed the death rate went up significantly. As far as removing speed limits and then going to a 75 mph limit makes little difference. The fast drivers are still probably traveling well over 85. That probably made a difference but with drunken driving and weather conditions slowing down of 100 or 200 hundred really fast drivers makes little difference. You forget that Montana is a far north state and weather conditions can make a huge difference on traffic deaths on the interstate.

    Here is an article from your favorite biased newspaper. It says that even though Iowa increased the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph they strongly enforced the new speed. Stick that in your ear because you and others say that increased speeds means little speed changes. Dah you idiot. Yes if you increase the speed limit and at the same time slow down the upper 15 percent of drivers you are going to have fewer deaths and accidents.

    When I have time I will look up the increased death rate in the mid-west when the speed limits were increased. If you have time go through the NMA blogs I included those statistics in earlier blogs but I do not have a copy right now or time to search the internet. Maybe later tonight.

  8. Randy says:

    Here you go James. Stick this one in your ear also.

  9. Frank says:

    Thank you randy, for providing sources that show that imposing speed limits made no change in the fatality rate, and disproving your speed=death mantra.

  10. Randy says:

    Frank you missed it totally. They increased the speed limit in Iowa and at the same time slowed down the fast drivers by enforcement!!!! Too bad you can not read.

    The main point was that they only increased the speed limit by 5 mph but made a very strong effeort to stop the fast drivers from going over that. The ones that were driving 15 mph over the limit or more were slowed down a lot. Yes that proves my point that if you keep the fast drivers down you make it safer. I have said many times that it does not matter what is on the sign but how fast you get the drivers to slow down to. The idiots from this site say that if you increase the speed limits the fast drivers automatically slow down. Yea right. If the fast drivers automatically slow down how were they able to hand out so many tickets?

  11. Randy says:

    James your NMA statistics are bull. I looked it up and in 1998 there were 121 daytime fatal accidents when there was no daytime limit and in 2000 there were 109 daytime fatal accidnets. That comes out to a 10% decrease rather than the doubling that you idiots are promoting as the fact.

  12. Bill says:

    Randy: The article said they will continue to hand out speeding tickets. They did that when the limit was 65 mph; they're continuing to do it when the limit is 70 mph. The level of effort hasn't changed, with the small exception of using "more unmarked cars", which is a trend nationwide.

  13. Randy says:

    Bill the article said :"From July 2005 to July 2006, the force issued 27,000 speeding citations". That period is imediatly after the change in speed limits. If it is true that the fast drivers slow down after speed limits are increased it does not show it in the facts presented. With 27,000 speeding tickets in a year it sounds like they are making an effort to slow down the fast drivers to me. I guess you think differently. Below is an article I found concerning this.

    In anticipation of the increased speed limit, the Iowa State Patrol Division increased enforcement on Iowa's Interstate System to remind motorists the speed limit will be enforced. In addition, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau, partnered with the Outdoor Advertising Association of Iowa in a continuing effort to encourage Iowan's and all who travel on Iowa roadways to comply with speed limit laws. This campaign, known as "Watch Your Speed, We ARE — TRIM IT TO THE LIMIT" included fifteen (15) 14 X 48 large billboards placed at key locations throughout the state. These billboards are located on heavily traveled thoroughfares. Also, as part of this campaign professional PSA traffic safety messages were launched and sent to all newspapers and radio stations to remind Iowans to obey the speed limit and wear their seatbelts.

    The Iowa State Patrol Division provided the following statistical information as to speed enforcement efforts along Iowa's Interstates since implementation of the 70 MPH limit.

    A total of over 27,000 citations have been issued on Iowa Interstates by the Iowa State Patrol Division since July 1, 2005.

  14. Randall says:

    Randy of course they are going to write tickets. You still got to enforce the law. maybe your a driver who always does 85 so your gonna get pulled over. I know when I drive in 70 mph zones, I drive 70-75mph. when i drive in 65mph zones i drive 70-80 mph. when i drive in 55mph roads i drive 70-80 mph , keep in mind i talking interstate highways, not regular roads.

    But my point is you still want to write tickets. but now you write them for 10 to 15 over rather than 20 to 30 over

  15. Randy says:

    Randall you did not read everything. Iowa like about every other place that increase speed limits make a significant enforcement of the new speed limit. You among others here say if you increase the speed limit the speeds do not increase. That is because there is more enforcement and you are not allowed to drive 10 mph over the limit let alone your 20 over.

    With your statement though you say for yourself that you would increase your speed to a certain amount over the limit. You may get hung on this site for stating that because that is one of the excuses that they all bring up here that increasing the limit does not increase anyones speed.

  16. Randy says:

    Sorry Randall I miss read your post. I read it again and it is clear that if you get caught in most states in a 55 mph zone you will get a really big fine driving 70 to 80 mph.

  17. Randy says:

    Stephen I somewhat agree with you. Set the speed limit at the 85 % and get the upper 15 % off the road and we will all have better driving conditions.