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What Is The Speed Limit On An Unmakred Michigan Road?

Kirbinster, Flickr

I live on a rural dirt road in Mundy Township, and for as long as I can remember there has been a huge debate among residents as to what the speed limit is.  People complain that it’s unsafe for kids to play near the road, but… isn’t it unsafe for kids to play near ANY road, no matter the speed limit?  We don’t live in a city, a town, or even a village. In fact we are no where near one.

So why do I get dirty looks from some people when I drive by at 50 miles per hour, or flipped off when I pass a driver who’s only going 20 miles per hour? Just last week there police officer waiting at a stop sign as I cruised by at 55. Did he pursue me and pull me over? Nope! In fact, he turned the other way and went about his business.

Why? Because the speed limit on my road and any other unmarked road in the state of Michigan is 55 miles per hour, whether they are paved or not.  That has been established by MCL 257.628 of the Michigan Vehicle Code.

I have three kids, and I am very concerned about their safety.  That’s why they are not allowed to go within 20 feet of the road, and I have boundaries clearly marked for them in our front yard.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter if a child is hit by a vehicle traveling 25 or 55 miles per hour.  Both speeds are extremely dangerous, and potentially deadly.

Because of the constantly changing conditions of dirt or gravel roads, The Basic Speed Law does play a role, as it does on every road in the state including the freeway system.  In case you forgot from your driver’s education classes, Michigan’s Basic Speed Law states that motorists are to “drive at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition then existing.”

Obviously if the road is loaded with potholes and mud puddles, you would be crazy to attempt full speed on a gravel or dirt road.  But if the road has been grated and is in great shape, there is no reason you can’t maintain the 55 mile an hour speed limit.

I spoke with Sargent Hosie from the Mundy Township Police Department.  He said that flipping the bird and yelling profanities at drivers are obscene gestures, but not considered a threat.  However the department will take a police report, and if the harassment happens repeatedly or the person follows you down the road, it could be considered stalking and result in possible charges through a lawyer or prosecutor.  Sargent Hosie also said:

“We routinely get calls from people that live in areas like that who think that people are driving above the speed limit.  Sometimes we’ll send a car out there with a RADAR unit and we’ll do a little survey.  We’ll send cars out there for 30 minutes a day, different times of the day, and we’ll actually clock cars.  And then we can go back and tell them, ‘Hey, listen, we looked into it, they’re not speeding.’   But, you’re right, if it’s not posted, 55 is the speed limit.”

So there you have it.  If you don’t want cars passing your house at 55 miles per hour, don’t live on a road where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour.  To my anonymous neighbor who lives down the road, you really should just pick up and move!

Okay, my rant is over, and I feel much better now.  Thank you!

[Michigan State Police]

 

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