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Will Increased Speed Limits Result In More Traffic Accidents?

Increased Speed LimitsAs Gov. Pat Quinn finds legislation approved by the Illinois House that would raise the non-urban interstate highways speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph across his desk, it has people divided whether raising the speed limits is a good idea or not.
Supporters point to the fact that this change will help the trucking business make deliveries faster and ensure that the Illinois speed limit is consistent with neighboring states. However, detractors believe that increased speeds will make it far more difficult for a large truck to come to a complete stop and lead to an increase in fatalities on the road.

What proponents are saying

Downstate Jacksonville Republican Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer said that his friends and family in the Chicago area avoid driving through Illinois when they are traveling south, citing that the main reason behind this choice was the speed limits that cause the trip to take longer. According to Davidsmeyer, this is hurting Illinois businesses, suggesting that it can cost gas revenue and ensures that people are not stopping in Illinois-based businesses to get something to eat or drink.

What detractors are saying

However, Democrat Barbara Flynn Currie – House Majority Leader – has a different opinion. She suggested that while the bill may be friendly to businesses, it is not necessarily friendly to the people of Illinois. She was quick to point out that both the Illinois state police and Illinois Department of Transportation saw this increase as a potentially dangerous move that may place many more people at risk.

Meanwhile, Chicago Democratic Rep. Deb Mell disagreed with Davidsmeyer’s previous assertion that this would speed up travel throughout the state. She argued that the state is 430 miles from top to bottom, taking 6.6 hours to cross through when going 65, and 6.1 hours when driving 70. She suggested that the slight decrease in travel time would not be worth the additional risk.

Not the first state

However, as Marengo Democratic Rep. Jack Franks said, Illinois certainly would not be leading the nation when it comes to introducing 70 mph speed limits. In fact, the state is actually behind the trends in that regard as they are one of only 16 states that still have a maximum 65 mph limit. As the governor is going to take his time to review the bill, both the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Transportation opposed the legislation.

Isn’t it always safer to go slower?

This is not always true, both state and federal studies have shown that traffic accidents are more likely when people are driving significantly below the average speed. While this research focuses more on speed deviation between the average speed of traffic and the driver, it does suggest that driving slower is not always a better option. Suggesting in fact that driving with the flow of traffic is often best.

Meanwhile, the increased speed might also take some getting used to, especially considering that many drivers underestimate the necessary distance that they need to leave between others drivers in order to react to a sudden emergency. We will see what governor Quinn decides.