Raise N.J.'s Speed Limit, Lawmaker Urges, Because No One Does 65

(Bloomberg) -- A senator from New Jersey, where traffic jams are a lifestyle, is calling for the state to scrap highway speed limits and legalize the reality of pedal meeting metal.

Legislation introduced by Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican from Tinton Falls and fan of German automotive engineering, proposes that posted limits be set at the rate driven by 85 percent of people on the road. By O’Scanlon’s reckoning, that’s 75 mph, rather than the 65-mile (105-kilometer) limit on most toll roads and interstates in the nation’s most densely populated state.

“Just about every person driving on a limited-access highway is breaking the law,” said O’Scanlon, 55. “With the advent of better braking, air bags, better tire technology, cars are safer than they were even five years ago.”

Most of the traffic-choked Northeast sets the maximum speed at 65, lowest in the country. A 40-mile stretch of Route 130 in Texas allows 85 mph. Most states set the limit at 70 or 75.

O’Scanlon -- owner of a Porsche Cayenne and a 2001 BMW M3 in Laguna Seca Blue that he called “one of the most amazing cars for the money ever made” -- was the statehouse’s leading proponent of discontinuing red-light camera systems that snared motorists with tickets. O’Scanlon said the fines amounted to a money grab and pointed to studies showing that the cameras contributed to crashes. New Jersey allowed a trial of the cameras to lapse in 2014.

In this case, O’Scanlon said, engineering studies, guided by the 85th percentile data, should set limits, and if crashes increase, speeds should be lowered.

“We’re not changing people’s speed -- they’re already going that speed,” he said.

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