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