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Speed Limits

Speed limits are a tough subject. Sometimes it appears that a good share of drivers would like to drive 70 MPH past everybody else's house and have everyone drive 25 MPH past theirs!

Michigan's Basic Speed Law takes precedence over all other speed laws and reads as follows:

Any person driving a vehicle on a highway shall drive the same at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface and width of the highway and of any other conditions than existing, and no person shall drive any vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than will permit him to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.

The maximum speed limit on County Roads in Michigan is of course 55 MPH and the prima facia speed is set at 25 MPH in business and residential areas. Between 25 MPH and 55 MPH exists a gray intermediate area described as "modified" or "permissive" speed zones. It is this area that is of concern to most people.

The State Legislature has given authority for regulation of speeds on county roads to the County Road Commission and the Michigan State Police. Both the State Police and the Road Commission must agree and sign the control order before a speed limit can be enforced. No modified speed limit ticket is valid without a traffic control order to back it up.

We prefer that speed limit change requests come through the township the road is in. That way the township has a chance to get public input as well as be aware of the request. When we get the request from the township, we contact the Safety and Traffic Officer with the State Police in Traverse City. He will come over and make a study of the highway to determine if a change in the speed limit is necessary. One criteria he uses in a residential area is that a lower speed limit requires there to be at least one house per 300 feet for at least 1/2 mile.

Setting realistic speed zones is an important factor for safe highways. Authorities found out a long time ago that drivers will ignore unrealistic speed limits, and so police go by what they call the "85 percentile speed." This is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the observed traffic is moving. The speed limits are generally established within seven MPH either way of this 85th percentile speed. The 15% of drivers going over this limit are the ones that need to slow down or risk getting a ticket.

"No Parking " zones are set by a similar procedure as speed zones. A control order for the area to be marked "No Parking" must be approved by both the State Police and the Road Commission to be enforced.

Montmorency County Road Commission will not fund "Children at Play" signs on our roads. These signs must be paid for by private citizens. We feel they give a false sense of security to parents. It is not safe to play on the road--period.

Saturday, April 29, 2006 12:17 AM