Michigan sees rise in freeway collisions

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 6:42 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan has recently seen a rise in crashes on its freeways.

Researchers believe the stretches that have had their speed limits raised by five miles in 2017 have resulted in more collisions and injuries.

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Lily Guiney is a Michigan driver who said she’s concerned about the increased speed limits on US-127.

“Sometimes it can feel like people are just trying to speed as much as they can because the speed limit is a little bit higher now than it used to be,” Guiney said.

According to Michigan State University researchers, severe traffic crashes have risen 5% since 2017 due to increased speed limits.

“But those higher speeds, I think they come with a cost,” said Peter Savolainen, with MSU College of Engineering. “I think as drivers we don’t realize that unless we know someone who’s been involved in one of those crashes.”

Speed limits on US-127 near St. Johns jumped from 70 to 75 miles per hour for cars and 60 to 65 miles per hour for trucks in 2017.

“As a consequence of that, we also saw a little bit more variability in speeds, so we see some people that are consistently going to drive five or seven, over 10 miles per hour over the limit,” Savolainen said.

As some drivers sped up, others stayed and the previous speed limit, which led to more crashes.

“You have another subset of drivers who aren’t comfortable driving at those higher speeds, and so part of it might be due to that great variability in speeds,” Savolainen said.

“I do feel that sometimes when I’m driving in those areas, some people might have a lack of control or they might be a little more focused on their speed than the drivers around them,” Guiney said.

Savolainen said he wants drivers to be more careful.

“One of the big issues we’ve also seen that has contributed to more fatalities and crashes is driver distraction. You see a lot of drivers on their cell phones and we would discourage those behaviors,” Savolainen said. “We would discourage looking at your phone while driving.”

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