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75 MPH Speed Limits on Major NJ Highways? [POLL/AUDIO]

Speed limits on major New Jersey highways, like the Garden State Parkway, NJ Turnpike and others could be increased, maybe even to 75 mph, if that’s the limit traffic engineers determine is the safest.

Garden State Parkway
Flickr User Dougtone

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon is exploring the idea of allowing traffic engineers to set speed limits. There would be a proven scientific formula used.

“We would remove politicians from setting speed limits and we would let engineers do that,” says O’Scanlon. “If you talk to any reputable engineer throughout the world they will tell you that you should set speed limits based on what they call the 85th percentile speeds.”

If you’re not familiar with the 85th percentile formula, you’re not alone. That’s the speed at which or below which 85-percent of traffic would flow naturally, not during rush hour. That gives the best idea of what the speed limit should be on a given highway.

“This concept should scare no one on the road,” says O’Scanlon. “We are not talking about changing people’s speeds. We are talking about having speed limits reflect the speeds people are already driving so that we have a better, more uniform flow of traffic.”

When the speed limit was increased on some Garden State highways from 55 mph to 65 mph, the 85th percentile rate of speed only changed about one mile-an-hour according to the Assemblyman.

“If you’re on the Parkway or the Turnpike the prevailing rate of speeds on most stretches is probably 70-75 mph. Those roads were designed for that. It’s perfectly safe,” says O’Scanlon. “You have some knee-jerk people out there saying, ‘Oh my God! We can’t change the speed limits because speed will increase.’ That is absolutely, unequivocally been proven to be wrong. If you listen to the argument that everybody already drives 10-miles-an-hour over the speed limit then if the speed limit were 110, everybody would drive 120. No they wouldn’t.”

The idea is to create speed limits that reflect reality says O’Scanlon. He feels that will promote the highest level of safety.


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