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Florida’s Need for Speed

Tallahassee legislators will soon be voting on a bill that would allow a 75-mph speed limit on some Florida highways and also boost speeds on other roads. Today only seventeen states allow speed limits above 70 mph. But, is this a good idea for Florida?

The proposal includes:

* 75 mph on interstates and other limited access highways (currently 70 mph)
* 70 miles per hour on four-lane divided highways outside of urban areas of at least 5,000 people (currently 65 mph)
* 65 miles per hour on any other road (currently 60 mph)

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), while traffic deaths have dropped every year since 2005, there were still 2,373 Florida traffic deaths in 2011, with many others facing life-altering injuries such as paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and broken bones.

Proponents believe that the speed limit change better reflects the actual speeds of drivers today and that people will get to their destinations faster. They do not believe that people will start driving an additional 5 mph over the newly proposed limit of 75 mph.

Opponents believe that raising the speed limits puts motorists at greater risk of being involved in car accidents and truck accidents. “When speed limits go up, people go faster, and eventually that results in more crashes and more deaths,” said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “We think there’s a pretty predictable safety trade-off.” There is also concern that higher speeds could fuel road-rage and make highways less safe.

If the bill passes, state engineers from the Florida Department of Transportation will determine whether any increases are warranted and which roadways would be effected.