Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday signed legislation raising the speed limit of rural interstates in Illinois to 70 mph. Beginning next year, the maximum speed limit on four-lane divided highways will be raised from 65 to 70 outside of urban areas in the Chicago area and metro-east.
Madison and St. Clair Counties are among a handful of counties that have the option to opt out of the new speed limit law.
State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives.
Costello said the bill was pro-business and increased safety on interstates by lessening disparity between the speed of drivers.
"A lot of studies I looked at showed disparity in speed is what actually creates most accidents," Costello said. "The average person in the U.S. on the interstate drives 72 miles per hour whether the speed limit posted is 65 or 70. You've got law-abiding citizens who are driving 65 and other people are driving 72, creating the disparity that causes most of the accidents. "So now putting the speed limit at 70, those law-abiding citizens are driving closer to the speed of traffic. Really, from a safety aspect, I consider a 70 mile per hour speed limit safer than at 65 miles per hour.
Opponents cited a 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health that found a 9.1 percent increase in deaths attributable to higher speed limits on rural interstates between 1995-2005.
Costello said state statistics show speed disparity, not merely higher speed limits, cause accidents. He cites state records showing a decrease in serious accidents involving semi-trailers after a law allowed the trucks to travel the same speed as cars -- 65 mph.Statewide, there were 17,676 accidents involving large trucks in 2010 and 17,275 such accidents in 2011.
About 85 percent of those accidents occurred in urban areas, according to state records.The new law has safeguards as well, Costello said.
Source: :"Are You Ready to Drive 70? Quinn Signs New Law, But Madison, St. Clair Counties Can Opt Out," Belleville News-Democrat, by Daniel Kelly
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