New Jersey proposes adjusting speed limits to reflect traffic pace

Cars and trucks share the northbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark, N.J. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

Cars and trucks share the northbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark, N.J. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation that would require speed limits on major highways to be set at the speed at which 85 percent of drivers are traveling.

An artificially low speed limit increases the difference in speeds between the vast majority of drivers and those who adhere to the posted limit, said State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon.

“When you have a difference in speeds, you dramatically increase the number of passing maneuvers, the things that really irritate people, that cause road rage or cause people to make a mistake, miss someone in a blind spot, and cause an accident,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth.

Steve Carrellas with the National Motorists Association agreed that the proposed change would foster a smoother and safer traffic flow. He said it won’t cause most drivers to go even faster.

“It’s just going to change the number to reflect what people are doing,” he said. “What we have found is anybody who today is going on the very high end tends to slow down because the traffic flow smooths out once you have everyone responding to an appropriate set legal limit.”

A more realistic speed limit would increase public respect for other traffic laws, said Carrellas and O’Scanlon.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.