Why some NJ highways should raise speed limits beyond 65 MPH (Opinion)
New Jersey has many gripes when it comes to its roadways. Probably one of the biggest ones involves tolls on some of our highways. You know, the ones that were supposed to be removed many, many years ago?
There was also a time when 55 mph was the max you could do. Although to be fair, it wasn't just New Jersey that was forced to stay within the double nickels. Thankfully, those days are in the past.
As of today, the max speed limit in New Jersey is 65 mph, which is the same for a handful of states in the northeast. However, there is one notable exception just to our west.
Since the fall of 2013, Pennsylvania has had a maximum speed limit of 70 mph. And now years later, that speed limit stands firm as the state's top speed. With that said, is it about time New Jersey considers an increase to its speed limit as well?
This, of course, shouldn't happen everywhere. Only areas where it makes sense should be considered, such as certain spots on our toll roads which we're paying to travel on anyway.
Garden State Parkway Express Lanes
Just south of the Driscoll Bridge, the Garden State Parkway splits into local and express lanes. This maintains for 22 miles in each direction and essentially allows drivers to bypass the majority of exits within this stretch.
With minimal on-ramps and off-ramps, it makes driving this stretch much easier for those who aren't looking to exit the highway while traveling this area. So wouldn't it only be logical to increase the speed limit for these particular lanes?
As of now, the maximum speed limit for both local and express lanes is 65 mph for the majority of that 22-mile stretch. One exception is a drop to 55 mph around the Cheesequake area.
With that said, what if New Jersey made the express lanes either 5 to 10 miles per hour faster and made them true express lanes? Instead of the max speed limit being 65, it could be either 70 or 75 for those traveling express. It already skips most of the exits within this stretch, so why not bump up the speed just a bit?
New Jersey Turnpike Car Lanes
The New Jersey Turnpike is one massive highway. And one that handles huge volumes of traffic daily. Why not try to push some of that traffic through at a quicker rate?
The truck lanes, of course, should remain at a maximum of 65 mph. But just like the Garden State Parkway, there are a few stretches of the toll road where there would be a reason to keep lower speeds.
The car lanes, however, might benefit from an increase. For parts that are deemed safe to do so, the car lanes might benefit from a 5 to 10-mile-per-hour increase. A large majority of those drivers are just passing through anyway, so why not allow them to move a little quicker?
Plus, the New Jersey Turnpike already can adjust its speed limits at any portion of the roadway thanks to digital signage. So if the volume becomes heavier than usual, they could simply lower it back to 65 mph until traffic becomes light again.
Portions of the AC expressway
The Atlantic City Expressway has an advantage over the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike. It primarily avoids heavily populated areas, which should automatically make it safer to cruise at a slightly higher speed at portions of the highway.
However, since the expressway doesn't divide, perhaps this increase could be a little more modest. Maybe a boost to 70 mph would do the trick to help travelers reach their destinations a little faster while still maintaining a certain degree of safety.
It wouldn't have to be the entire stretch, either. As mentioned before, this could be implemented in certain areas where it makes sense.
We're already driving beyond 65
Anyone who doesn't think we drive these higher speeds already clearly doesn't travel our roadways regularly. It's quite common to be traveling 75 mph with the flow on all three of these roadways as it is, so why not increase it?
Now, that doesn't mean travel 90 mph or faster if the speed limit is 75. Perhaps fines could be tripled in these particular speed zones to deter drivers from going too fast. A 10 mph over the speed limit seems fair to allow.
It also means if you elect to travel in areas that have higher speed limits, that you travel within an acceptable range. If you go too slow, then stay to the right. Don't crawl in the center or left lanes and hold up the flow just so you can have a nice joy ride.
Follow the Turnpike example: Use digital signage
If New Jersey were to try this, then digital speed limit signage should be used on all three toll roads. We're already paying to travel these highways, and we know the tolls aren't going away anytime soon, so why not do this where limits are increased?
In fact, nobody in the state believes the tolls will stay at the same rate forever. At some point, they're going to increase again, so why not let us drive faster legally? And with digital signage, the limit can be adjusted based on volume, weather conditions, construction, or accidents.
With all of that said, an increase in the New Jersey speed limit should only be done in areas where it makes the most sense. If the highway has narrow lanes, blind spots, or is typically high in volume, then raising the speed limit might not be wise to do.
The bottom line is this. Most drivers on some of New Jersey's freeways are already exceeding 65 mph, so why not just adjust the speeds to reflect what drivers are already doing? Keep it to areas where it makes logical sense, and it's a win-win for everyone.