Interstate Speed Limit
Posted: February 20, 2015
I don't understand what all the fuss is about regarding the proposed bill in Madison to increase the Interstate speed limit from 65 to 70 miles per hour. To me, it seems logical that Wisconsin should join its neighboring states to make the speed limit uniform throughout the Midwest.
The federal government imposed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act in 1974 in response to the oil shortage at that time. The 55 mile per hour speed limit was the result of that Act. In 1987, Congress raised the federally-mandated speed limit to 65 miles per hour. And in 1995, federal regulations were eliminated, giving the states the authority to determine maximum speed limits on highways and expressways within their jurisdiction.
In August, 2013, Illinois' governor signed legislation raising the interstate speed limit to 70 miles per hour in the Land of Lincoln. Wisconsin remains the last state in the Midwest to raise the speed limit.
Assembly Bill 389 increases the maximum speed limit on freeways and expressways from 65mph to 70mph. Expressways are defined in the bill as a roadway with four or more lanes separated by a median or barrier which allows access to through-traffic only at interchanges. Freeways differ in that they allow some access to through-traffic at limited grade level roads and driveways.
Those opposed to raising the speed limit fear a greater disparity between speeders and slower drivers, thus causing more accidents and possible fatalities. However, I believe that more drivers would be forced to drive at least 65 miles per hour, whereas many times I get behind a driver on the Highway 53 Freeway who is only going about 60 miles per hour. To me, that's more dangerous than someone driving 70-75 miles per hour.
According to supporters of the legislation, the more motorists who drive at a similar speed, the safer the roadways will be. Apparently, the Assembly Committee on Transportation agrees. Last October, the committee voted 9-6 (it was bipartisan) to send the bill to the full assembly for debate.
Some may argue that drivers will feel the need to go 80 miles per hour if the speed limit was raised to 70mph. Even though I may start regularly traveling in the 75-miles-per-hour range if the speed limit was increased, I know that I don't feel comfortable going much faster than that. It is my hope that lawmakers in Madison support raising the speed limit to 70 miles per hour on the Interstate and freeways in Wisconsin.
REMINDER: If you are a paid subscriber and wish to log onto The Bottom Line web site to see our online edition, please forward your e-mail address and zip code to: firstname.lastname@example.org.