A bill filed recently in the Florida Senate would raise speed limits on certain state highways to 75 mph. The bill would also allow a five mph increase on divided highways that currently have a 65 mph limit and on roads that are now at 60 mph.
The legislation was proposed by Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, and specifies that traffic engineers would decide the safety of raising speed limits before any actions are taken.
Research shows that motor vehicle deaths go up when speeds of 65 to 70 mph are involved, Karen Morgan, a public policy manager for the American Automobile Association in Tampa. In 2012, 361 people died in Florida in crashes related to speed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administraiton
Morgan believes that factors including road design, access and exit points, and traffic patterns need to be discussed before speed limits are raised on Florida highways.
Some, such as Sgt. Dylan Bryan of the Florida Highway Patrol, are skeptical of increasing speed limits. Bryan said the change would encourage people to drive faster and lead to more collisions involving severe injuries and fatalities
However, according to Clemens, the only roads that would have an increased speed limit are stretches in rural sections of Florida and not in urban areas. Highways would not be affected, Clemens said.
Brandes said that only roads that are proven to be capable of handling higher speeds would see increases. Currently 17 states allow higher speed limits than Florida, he said, and drivers are in those states are not remaining within the speeds with which they are comfortable.
The bill won’t be up for consideration until at least January, and if it passes, roads would not be affected most likely until 2015.