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How Fast Is Too Fast When It Comes To Highway Driving? Will Speed Trump Safety?

High speed limits may be less safeIllinois has passed a bill that will make the highway speed limit 70 mph statewide on January 1, 2014.

Higher Speed Limits Countrywide

Illinois isn’t the first state to put highway speed limits into the 70s and beyond. In fact, some would say that Illinois was late to the party, and proponents of the new bill argued that it was necessary simply to bring the state in line with its neighbors. Two decades ago, highway speeds above 55 mph were not common in the U.S., and now it’s uncommon for those speeds to be below 75 mph.

Speed Limit Increase in Chicago

Achieving this new legislation was not a simple process. Opponents of the bill argued fiercely on a number of compelling points. Perhaps the most effective was that the higher speeds lead to severer car accident injuries. Supporters of the bill argue that accidents are not more likely in this range, but it is tough to deny the statistics that show car accident injuries become graver at these speeds.

The Upside of Higher Speeds

A big upside of higher speed limits is convenience. Illinois residents can go to and from work and errands faster. However, this isn’t simply about convenience. The higher speeds effect traffic in a positive way and alleviate the need for construction in some areas. The higher speeds also have an effect on business, particularly those that transport goods. In fact, some transport companies were actually circumventing Illinois when possible due to the slowdown.

The Downside of Higher Speeds

As mentioned previously, the primary downside to higher speed limits on highways is that when accidents do occur injuries are severer, death is more likely and damage to physical property is greater. These severe car accident injuries leading to higher insurance costs and higher costs for the state and local governments.

Counties Can Opt Out

As both sides argued their points, it was clear that some form of compromise was necessary. Illinois achieved that compromise by adding a clause to the legislation that allows any county to opt out of the new speed limits. Some argue, however, that this clause isn’t a compromise at all but just a matter of shifting the responsibility to the counties, which now have to reach the compromise or alienate a large number of citizens.