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Speed limit bill squeaks through House, but opponents urge Scott to hit brakes

by John Kennedy | April 30th, 2014

Amid emotional debate, the Florida House approved a measure that could lead to higher speed limits on some stretches of state interstates and smaller roads.

The House voted 58-56 on the legislation (CS/SB 392) which authorizes the Florida Department of Transportation to add 5 mph to some limits on rural and lightly traveled roadways. The bill, whose sponsors include Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, now goes to Gov. Rick Scott for review.

“We are simply saying (to FDOT) you can increase the limit after you do your engineering studies,” said Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres.

But Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, a funeral director who also acknowledged that he has frequently been ticketed for speeding, argued against the move.

“I can’t do something in good conscience that is going to cost lives,” Baxley said.

The legislation would let FDOT study which stretches of highway could be boosted by 5 mph from the current 70 mph limit set in 1996.

Clemens has said he doesn’t envision speed limits rising on I-95 in South Florida. But rural and more isolated stretches of Florida’s interstates could qualify, he said.

The legislation also is aimed at allowing limits on some divided highways rise from 65 mph to 70 mph and other state roads now subject to 60 mph limits to also rise by 5 mph.

There are 16 states with speed limits of 75 mph or higher, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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4 Responses to “Speed limit bill squeaks through House, but opponents urge Scott to hit brakes”

  1. gethefax Says:

    Increase it to at least 20 mph…from 70 to 90…for petes sakes, thats what the speedsters travel at now on the Floirda Turnpike…and if you dont move over you will get tailgated until you do!!! Even if your in the right lane, at 70 mph, the impatient drivers want you to speed up or move over to emergency lane. What needs to be done is that FHP Troopers need to get out of the donut shops and shady spots and start ticketing TAILGATERS and AGGRESSIVE DRIVERS as well as the CELL PHONE TEXTERS. I witnesseda Commercial Step Van swerve erractically off to the emergency lane and back on to the highway yesterday on the FLA Turnpike…when I passed I see in his hand, him looking down…you guessed it… he was playing with himself…his cell phone that is.

  2. Stephen Says:

    Sign the bill Gov Scott.

    Despite higher speeds and more traffic, OUR DEATH RATE HAS DROPPED OVER 50%

    2.2 vmt in 1994 to 1.25 in 2011 (and 2010).

    The 75 mph speed limit is SAFE!


  3. Lower It NOW! Says:

    I recently read this article and we NEED TO LOWER the speed limit! Do you hate mother Earth?

    “A Dutch Study concludes Lowering the speed limit to 50 MPH can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30%.

    Part of the reduction comes from the direct correlation between speed and fuel consumption, but the real impact would come from behavioral changes; people would tend to shift to other, faster modes of travel, and will probably tend to move closer to where they work.

    Short- and long-term CO2 emission cuts as a share of total motorway CO2 emissions by cars in various scenarios

    The findings assume two things. First, there is a viable alternative to driving, such as a comprehensive rail system. And second, that people want to return to urban centers. The researchers concede these points when they note the findings apply only to the Netherlands and may vary elsewhere.

    Really? Isn’t that what we have all been calling for, an investment in public transport, a return to walkable, denser cities? Why is there this automatic assumption that the way we have been doing things in North America is the only way it works and the way it is going to continue, with the private automobile-based low-density suburban America that we have now?

    There are LOTS of reasons to lower the speed limit;

    Six Reasons to Slow Down

    It could save a lot of fuel. Some estimates indicate up to 5%; In 1983, by which time many people were ignoring it, it saved 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel, or 2.2% of the total fuel used. Oil was a horrible $ 20 per barrel. Wired notes that “The Department of Energy noted in 2008 that lowering the national speed limit to 55 mph would save 175,000 to 275,000 barrels of oil daily.”

    It could save a lot of lives. Speed kills. A study examined the impact of higher travel speeds on US rural interstates after the repeal in November 1995 of the national speed limit. Researchers found states that had increased their speed limits to 75 mph (120 km/h) experienced a shocking 38 per cent increase in deaths per million vehicle miles than expected, compared to deaths in those states that did not change their speed limits. States that increased speed limits to 70 mph (112 km/h) showed a 35 per cent increase in fatalities. (Canada Safety Council)

    It will reduce the cost of cars and could save Detroit With a lower speed limit one certainly doesn’t have much need for a big honking hemi, and probably you don’t need so many airbags and so much crash protection. Cars could be lighter and cheaper, take up less space, and Detroit could quit worrying about CAFE standards.

    It could solve our infrastructure problems and save on taxes. As we noted in an earlier post, “Transportation officials know many of the nation’s 600,000 bridges are in need of repair or replacement. About one in eight has been deemed “structurally deficient.” Lighter vehicles traveling at slower speeds do far less damage to our roads and bridges. Design loads and lane widths could be adapted to the smaller vehicles. Three lane highways might become four lane; more capacity for the price of a can of paint.

    It would spur innovation and investment in alternative transport if trains go four times as fast as cars, there is a lot more incentive to use them.

    It would promote innovation in urban design and densification of the existing suburbs Parking lots could be scaled down, buildings built more closely together, America could begin to look more like Europe. Although most commuters probably don’t move at 55 mph now, it is still likely that people might tend to want to live closer to work with a lower speed limit.”-treehuggerdotcom

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