Maryland lawmakers support 70 mph speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/11/2015

A bill on the Maryland governor’s desk could soon result in an increase in the top speed on certain roadways.

The House voted 130-7 to advance a bill to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk that would open the door to increasing interstate and state expressway speeds from 65 mph to 70 mph. Senate lawmakers already approved it on a 39-7 vote.

If signed into law, SB44 would leave the final decision on whether to increase speeds to the Maryland State Highway Administration. The expense to conduct a highway speed engineering study is estimated to be $350,000.

Critics say that increasing vehicle speeds in Maryland could lead to more crashes and fatalities.

Supporters say the state would be well served to adopt the 85th percentile speed rule. The method is used to set speed limits at or below the speed at which 85 percent of traffic is moving.

Sen. George Edwards, R-Garrett, described the bill as a simple effort to allow the State Highway Administration to look at speed limits on interstate highways or expressways.

“It isn’t mandatory. If they think it’s safe enough, they can raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph,” Edwards said during testimony at a Senate committee hearing.

He added that most interstates are built for 70 mph speed limits.

Neighboring Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia already have 70 mph speeds for all vehicles posted on at least some stretches of roadways. Maine and New Hampshire are the only other Northeastern states to permit drivers to travel 70 mph or more.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maryland, click here.

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