Can’t Drive 65? Maryland Votes to Raise Speed Limit to 70 MPH

Last month, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation enabling the state to raise the speed limit on specified highways from 65 to 70 miles per hour. That comes as good news to those eager to put the pedal to the metal … and not so good news to safety advocates concerned about speed-related motor vehicle crashes in Maryland.

According to a spokesperson for the Maryland State Highway Administration, the speed limit increase would not be mandatory and would be determined on a case-by-case basis. Roadways located in more rural areas that already have a 60- to 65-mph speed limit would be more likely to see their speed limit raised to 70 mph.

In the not-too-distant past (at least for some of us), the speed limit on highways was just 55 mph. This was due to the oil embargo and subsequent gas rationing of the mid-1970s, prompting Congress to set a national speed limit in 1973. Congress repealed the law in 1995 and left it up to the states to set their own speed limits.

Now, Maryland may join the 38 other states that have raised their speed limits to 70 mph on certain parts of their roadways. Sixteen states have a speed limit of at least 75 mph.

As a long-time Maryland injury lawyer, I’ve handled many cases where speed was a contributing factor in motor vehicle crashes causing injury or death. Safety advocates argue that the increase in speed limit gives license to those already prone to speeding to go even faster. Additionally, they draw a direct correlation between increase in speed limits and motor vehicle fatalities. In 2013, speed was a factor in 148 out of a total 465 motor vehicle accident fatalities in Md. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2009-2013).

This legislation, Maryland Senate Bill 44 / House Bill 194 – Vehicle Laws – Maximum Speeds on Highways, is awaiting Gov. Hogan’s signature. Whether the increased speed limit in Maryland leads to additional accidents and injuries is yet to be seen.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Preventing Maryland Traffic Accidents : Speeding Ticket Stats Shed Light on 10 MPH “Cushion” Drivers Add to Speed Limit (July 2012)

Sources:

Hogan should veto 70 mph limit (Opinion)
The Baltimore Sun April 9, 2015

Md. legislature considers increasing highway speed limits
WTOP April 6, 2015

What Passed in the Md. General Assembly
The Daily Record April 14, 2015

As Speed Limits Rise, So Do Safety Concerns
The Bulletin April 30, 2015