NJDOT Delivers 65 mph Report
Recommends No Additional Miles at this
Time, Extends Study Period Another 18 Months
The New Jersey Department of Transportation today delivered its findings
and data collected as part of the state’s 65 mile-per-hour study
program in a report to the Governor and Legislature. Following the
18-month study period, which ended in November 1999, the NJDOT is
recommending that the 65 mph program in the state be maintained without
adding more miles and that the study period be extended another 18
The report was compiled pursuant to pursuant
to P.L. 1997, Chapter 415 -- the law establishing the 65 mph study
program on 475 miles of interstates, state highways and toll roads
-- and contains four significant findings:
Actual travel speeds increased on average only 1 mile-per-hour,
with the exception of the New Jersey Turnpike where travel speeds
increased 3 to 4 miles-per-hour on average.
Fatalities decreased nearly 10 percent and fatal accidents decreased
nearly 8 percent in the 65 mph zones over a similar 18-month period
prior to the study period.
Total accidents in the 65 mph zones increased 18 percent over
a similar 18-month period prior to the study period.
Impacts to air quality and noise were affected minimally due
to the nominal change in travel speeds.
"Our primary concern is for the safety of those who use our
roads and we took a thoughtful, sensible approach to increasing
speed limits around the state on a trial basis. The data shows that
there are some positive trends with respect to travel speeds and
serious accidents, but the increase in overall accidents gives us
pause for concern. I believe the Department of Transportation, in
consultation with the Attorney General, has made prudent recommendations,"
Governor Christie Whitman said.
"The NJDOT developed, with help from the Legislature, a good
cross section of roads to test the 65 mph speed limit. While the
data shows some positives we need to understand more comprehensively
why total accidents have increased. I believe with an additional
18 months to evaluate data, we should be able to draw better conclusions,"
said Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein.
Commissioner Weinstein noted that an additional 18 months to collect
data and evaluate the program would give state transportation engineers
a full three years worth of information. A three-year study period
is a professionally accepted minimum time frame within which to
conduct a traffic safety study.
"If we ultimately recommend changes to the current 65 mph
system, then we need to have a better sense of why the numbers are
moving in the directions they are," Weinstein added. "But
as transportation professionals, we see no overriding reason at
this time to suspend or curtail the program."
In May 1998, speed limits were raised on portions of New Jersey
roadways. Those roadways included parts of Route 18, Route 55, I-78,
I-80, I-195, I-287, I-295, the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State
Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway. To encourage safe driving
and compliance with the law establishing the 65 mph program penalties
for speeding and other violations in the 65 mph zones were doubled.