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Speed-limit bill racing to finish line in Florida

Posted: April 24, 2014 - 8:04pm  |  Updated: April 24, 2014 - 11:52pm

TALLAHASSEE — The Senate approved a measure Thursday that could increase the posted speed to 75 mph on certain stretches of state roads, where motorists would be allowed to push the lead to 80 mph with little fear of getting a ticket.

Despite concerns expressed by some lawmakers about safety and the potential impact on tourists and seniors, senators voted 27-11 to support the measure (SB 392). It directs the Florida Department of Transportation to determine whether to increase the minimum and maximum speed limits on all divided highways that have at least four lanes.

“We’re not talking about raising the speed limits to 90 (mph) or 95, we’re talking about the potential to raise the speed limit a mere 5 miles per hour,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who sponsored the bill. “I would suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, that 5 miles per hour clearly is not going to cause any difference in safety of our constituents in the state of Florida.”

In other states, higher speed limits have resulted in more deaths from speeding accidents because drivers’ reaction times are reduced, and the severity of injuries is intensified, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

And Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, argued that allowing speeds to be increased could become problematic for many of the state’s seniors and tourists who aren’t used to the higher speeds.

“Slow down, Senate,” Joyner said. “Let’s not increase the speed. This is a safety issue. The faster you go, the more lives are in peril, and you don’t get there but maybe 10 seconds, or more, faster than the person driving the speed limit.”

The Senate action could put the pedal to the metal on the House companion (HB 761), which has yet to appear on the floor since clearing the second of its two scheduled committee appearances on April 11.

The result of the transportation studies could be that Florida joins Maine and 16 western states is posting maximum speeds at 75 mph or higher.

The 75 mph limit is a speed many motorists already drive on the highway, as Florida law allows for a warning to those traveling less than 6 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, said increasing the maximum and minimum speed limit will only “encourage all drivers to drive faster, whether they want to or not.”

“We’re a tourist state and we want people to slow down and not speed up,” Gibson said. “Just because we can increase the speeds in certain areas doesn’t mean we should.”

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, the other sponsor of the bill, defended the proposal as simply allowing state engineers to determine the safe speeds on rural stretches of roads.

The bill could eventually allow state transportation officials to increase speed limits on Florida’s “limited access highways” to 75 mph and raise the maximum posted limits on divided four-lane highways in sparsely-populated rural areas from 65 mph to 70 mph. The transportation department could hike speeds to 60 mph on other roads they deem safe. And the agency would also have the authority to set minimum speeds on certain highways.

The proposal, opposed by AAA, was not requested by Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad.

Prasad has said his agency would only conduct the speed studies in select areas where conditions may warrant an increase.

Florida’s highways have had a 70 mph maximum since 1996, the last time the speed limit was reviewed.

Comments (9)

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the_yes_man
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the_yes_man 04/25/14 - 12:58 pm
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Speaking of

Speaking of clueless...MNG

The slogan was "Arrive Alive - Drive 55"

NOT "Save Gas - Drive 55"

I know facts are little pesky things to you, but really?

ElJefe
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ElJefe 04/25/14 - 11:01 am
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Oddly, the 55mph limit did

Oddly, the 55mph limit did not save fuel, at least as touted by its backers. While USDOT said it saved 1%, most independent studies put the saving at .5% or less. Some studies actually said there were actually increases because of the "stop-and-go" conditions it caused on freeways.

Safety was also unclear. Most valid research has shown that modulated speed is safer regardless of the rate. Far more unsafe conditions occur when there are variations of speed between cars.

Today's cars are built to achieve optimum fuel mileage at freeway speeds which pretty much dismisses the myth that 55 is the optimum speed.

That's all called "science" as obtained from substantial resources as opposed to myths wingers like MNG like to call science.

J'ville Native
3955
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J'ville Native 04/25/14 - 10:16 am
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When the speed limit was 55

When the speed limit was 55 mph, I would drive around 65mph and always tagging along behind others. When the limit rose to 70, that's the speed I drive because I just feel comfortable at this speed. Yet I'm, as The Enquirer attests, am constantly passed by other motorists moving along at 75+. If the limit was raised to 75, I would be one of those getting "blown" by the rest because I would still keep it at 70. And no, I'm not "old" or "inexperienced." If the limit is raised, I would like to see FHP write tickets for those "speeding" at 80+ mph.

Mister Nice Guy
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Mister Nice Guy 04/25/14 - 09:56 am
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It's based on "miles per hour

It's based on "miles per hour OVER the speed limit". And chances are that number would be higher if speed limits were still at 55.

It's called "math".

And the primary reason (and very valid I may add) for the 55 mph was fuel economy.

It's called "history".

And it did indeed save gas.

That's called "science".

Why are our Cowford Conservatives so dang clueless??

Steve D
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Steve D 04/25/14 - 08:39 am
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Sorry to tell you this

Sorry to tell you this RetChief but the highway engineers designed the roads to be safely traveled at much higher speeds that 75. Try over 100. And this was when cars were a LOT less safe than today. I was driving when the speed limit was 55 and I still drive often today. In my opinion people have always cruised along at the same speeds regardless of the posted speed limits. This is just more in line with reality than 55 ever was.

Another idiotic policy from the Carter years even further dissolved. Although in truth it came to pass under Nixon who really wasn't much better.

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