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Speed Limit Could Go Up to 75 On I-95 By July, and to 70 on U.S. 1

| November 13, 2013

Possibly coming to a road near you. (UDOT)

Possibly coming to a road near you. (UDOT)

Speed limits of 75 mph on Interstate highways are common in the Great Plains and Mountain states, but nonexistent east of the Mississippi except in Maine. Florida may be about to change that.

A bipartisan measure filed in the Florida Legislature Tuesday could shorten the more than 800-mile drive from Pensacola to Key West to less than half a day of travel.

Speed limits across the United States. Click on the map for larger view. (Wikipedia)

Speed limits across the United States. Click on the map for larger view. (Wikipedia)

Sens. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, proposed a bill (SB 392) that would allow a 75 mph speed limit on some highways and also boost speeds on other roads. Brandes said the idea is to adjust speed limits on interstates and certain rural highway to accurately reflect what most motorists are already driving.

“If people are driving within rates they’re comfortable with, we need to adjust the minimum and maximums speeds to what 85 percent of people are already driving,” Brandes said. “That’s what this bill would allow.”

The proposal would direct the state Department of Transportation to determine the safe minimum and maximum speed limits on all divided highways that have least four lanes. In Flagler County, that includes I-95 and U.S. 1. On U.S. 1.

The DOT would then be able to increase travel on the state’s “limited access highways” to 75 mph and raise the maximum posted limit on divided four-lane highways in sparsely populated rural areas from 65 mph to 70 mph. The DOT could also hike speeds by 5 mph, to 65 mph, on other roads they deem safe.

Florida’s highways have had a 70 mph maximum since 1996, the last time the speed limit was reviewed.

In a news release from the senators, they pointed to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration numbers that indicate the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has consistently declined since 1996. The decline, however, has coincided with the propagation of air bags, which are now required in all vehicles.

The proposal will face safety questions.

Raising speed limits above 70 mph, as 16 states have done for select roads since the national speed limit was lifted in 1995, has led to more deaths from speeding accidents as reaction times are reduced and the severity of injuries is made greater, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Va.

“Higher speeds make crashes more likely because it takes longer to stop or slow down, and the crashes that happen are more likely to be deadly. It’s physics 101,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute.

A 2009 study by the American Journal of Public Health found a 3 percent increase in road fatalities attributed to higher speeds after the 1995 repeal of the national speed limit, with the increase growing to 9 percent on rural interstates with higher limits, Rader said. In the 10 years after speed limits were increased, research concluded that 12,545 deaths and 36,583 injuries in fatal crashes were attributed to the higher speed limits.

This year, an analysis conducted by the Connecticut legislature’s Office of Legislative Research that based its findings on a 2006 National Cooperative Highway Research Program, found that ” higher speed limits were associated with an increased likelihood of deaths and incapacitating injuries. It found that increasing a speed limit from 55 to 65 mph on an “average” section of high speed road resulted in about a 3 percent increase in the total number of crashes and a 24 percent increase in the likelihood that a vehicle occupant would be fatally injured. This increased crash rate would yield a 28% increase in the number of fatalities following the speed limit increase. The study also found a similar, but lesser, impact when speed limits were raised from 65 to 75 mph. In those cases, the total number of crashes increased by 0.64 percent, increasing the probability of a fatality by 12%, with an overall increase of 13 percent in total fatalities. Although the analysis did not explain why a smaller increase occurred at the higher speeds, the study suggested that people may drive more cautiously when driving faster, or that roads deemed appropriate for a 75 mph limit are safer.” (See the full findings below.)

More importantly for those questioning the increases, motorists have continued to go above the posted limits as other states have raised the minimum and maximum limits.

In the decade after the speed limit was raised in Nevada and New Mexico from 65 mph to 75 mph on rural interstates, the proportion of passenger vehicles exceeding 80 mph tripled in Nevada and nearly tripled in New Mexico, according to the Insurance Institute.

The Journal of Public Health study was conducted before Maine increased the speed limit to 75 mph for the northern end of Interstate 95 in 2011. The increase made that section of road — between Old Town and Houlton — the first to top 70 mph east of the Mississippi River.

Louisiana allows 75 mph on sections of Interstate 49, which is west of the Mississippi River.

Brandes admitted he had some early reservations about adjusting the limits, but the senators said they are comfortable allowing state engineers to determine if any increase is warranted.

“Allowing professionals to determine safe speeds based on the engineering standards of individual highways is simply common sense,” Clemens said in the news release. “A five mile per hour increase is unlikely to have an impact on road safety, but we’ll let the experts do their job.”

The proposal will be considered during the 2014 legislative session. Currently, there is no House sponsor for the proposal.

–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive

Safety Impacts and Other Implications of Raised Speed Limits on High-Speed Roads: Final Report (2006)

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31 Responses for “Speed Limit Could Go Up to 75 On I-95 By July, and to 70 on U.S. 1”

  1. Posting 75 mph and 70 mph limits on four lane divided roads now posted lower would improve safety and smooth traffic flow. The ideal limits to post, if safety is the goal, are the 85th percentile speeds of free flowing traffic under good conditions. Virtually all four lane divided roads in Florida (and many other eastern states) are posted well below that safety optimum level.

    Alligator Alley should be posted at 80 mph, if safety were the true goal. Note that I drove about 2,000 miles in Florida last January and virtually every four lane divided highway was under-posted — again if safety is the true goal for posted limits.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  2. Lives in Palm Coast says:

    I agree with raising the speed limit on the interstate here but some parts of I95 I can’t see it. I95 is a beast in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami/Dade. I could not imagine that speed being raised there! There is an accident everyday in those areas.

    US1????? Really I don’t think that I need to say much about that, with all the accidents on there, no way that would be safe.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think FDOT would raise any of the urban or semi urban zones to 70 or 75 mph. Engineering studies would have to support the increased limits. BTW Mr. walker is correct that on most rural freeways the 85th percentile speed is around 80 mph.

      • Thanks, Anonymous. Michigan raised most urban freeway limits to 70 mph to match the actual 85th percentile speeds which ranged from 68 to 74 mph on urban MI freeways. The flow is smoother and safer and the speed traps are gone.
        Our rural limits are still 70 mph and most should be 80, but the urban ones are mostly correct now.
        James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  3. John Boy says:

    Guess that fuel consumption is nolonger a concern. Article did not even mention what the difference is in MPG at 65, 70, or 75 MPH. The other falicy is that a 75 MPH limited will be interrputed by many to go 85.

  4. fruitcake says:

    Go ahead and raise it…everyone goes that fast or higher anyway

  5. Glad I left Palm Coast says:

    Let the Carnage begin!!!! People can’t handle 70mph!!! Welcome the the Autobahn!!!! be careful not do drive in the left lane or you will get run over. I can see more road rage now!

  6. m&m says:

    That’s good ..If you go at the present speed limit you’re in the way . People who drive at or below the speed limit in the passing lane should be ticketed for obstructing traffic.

  7. orphan says:

    Why not?
    I always drive “the road”. I have been caught quite a few times over my lifetime while driving a tad more than the posted speed limit for a particular stretch of highway. And before anyone jumps…a “tad” as I use it here is meant to imply that I have a brain AND know how to use it. While tooling down a brand new section of any particular highway without any driveways or other restrictions to cause me to make a sudden decision that will affect other than wildlife (ok-go ahead and jump) why should I have to maintain a speed that is in my opinion 5-10-15 mph too slow? I DRIVE WITH MY HEAD!
    I say kudos to the various persons involved in this “change”. (oh god, did I just say that?)

  8. blondee says:

    Well most people already drive over 75 on I95, so what’s the difference?!?! Make it 75, they’ll be driving 90 mph.

  9. Charles Ericksen Jr says:

    Sure.. Let’s go to 70 MPH on Route 1.. This would ensure more deaths at the Matanzas intersection. If they cannot see the oncoming traffic at 60, the 70 will get it over with quicker..Do, these decision makers ever get out of their offices??

    • Omer Smith says:

      The problem, in my humble opinion, is not the “Speed Limit”, but, speeding, itself (grossly above the posted speed limit). I travel US 1 frequently and very few are doing 60. Belle Terre is another example — 45 posted speed limit. People pass me like they were on an emergency run. Even when I’m in the left lane preparing to turn left at the next intersection, people get annoyed and zoom out around me in the right lane and speed ahead. On I-95 the posted speed of 70 should be the minimum speed because if you are going slower you will be an endangered person. I do the speed limit or a few miles over and I still travel frequently. I make it a point not to hold anyone up. I will move over and allow a “speeder” go around me. I have driven hundreds of thousands of miles in various places around the world — I have concluded that speeding and reckless driving kills. Oh, did I hear anyone say they are increasing the speed limit near the Matanza intersection — no one mentioned it yet. So, we will have to wait and see the choices for increased speed limits.

  10. confidential says:

    They do not need to get out of their offices to make these decisions, they do it to the command of the Oil Barons because gas consumption has dropped so low given the gauging at the pump and no marine gas consumption either no boats around us like used to be, have anyone noticed…? and many on the middle class out of work that can’t afford to travel now, then the refineries have gasoline seating in storage up to their wazoo and need to sell it and increasing the speed limit is an easy way to achieve their goal..
    By the way now that we are up to the Oil Barons…like I always believed it, lets stop blaming OPEC for the manipulation of oil price and at the pump and heating oil as well and lets put the blame where is due:;_ylt=AwrSyCWZCYRSf3MAraGTmYlQ

  11. Charles Gardner says:

    I would prefer 90.

  12. fruitcake says:

    There should be a light at Matanza & US 1..There is a light at every other major US1 intersection…whats the hold up?

  13. In almost every case, the safest limit to post is the actual, current speed that 85% of the traffic under good conditions is currently traveling under or right at – rounded to the nearest 5 mph interval.
    If 85% are under or at then post
    74 75
    67 65
    81 80
    69 70

    THAT is the 70+ year old often reproven science to post the safest limits. It reduces speed variance, conflicts between vehicles, aggressive driving, lane swapping, passing and road rage.

    For those that think if we post 80, people will go 90 – THAT is a myth. On I-10 in west Texas under perfect conditions with light traffic, 1.5+ mile visibility distances, almost no enforcement, perfect weather, etc. — the 85th percentile speeds measure 81 to 84 mph with only 1.2% of the drivers at 90 mph or higher. WHY are there such modest speeds in places competent drivers could go 100 mph all day in safety? This is because most people are not comfortable at speeds over 80-85 mph, regardless of how perfect are the road and weather conditions.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association (69 years old, 1+ million miles of experience in 21 major countries, a student of speed limits for 50+ years)

  14. Marissa says:

    Just in time for the next Governor’s race with all the people dieing from speeding, Governor Scott can say he kept his promise of reducing the unemployment.

  15. Rocky Mac says:

    Another good reason to avoid I95.

  16. rhweir says:

    Speed seems unlimited on 95 anyway. Make it like das Autobahn und gehen sie schnell! Let the death toll climb. Light at Matanzas and US 1 would be so nice.

  17. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    About time. We’re traveling in the equivalent of modern day spaceships today with airbags, suspension, tyres versus what vehicles where when these ridiculous speed limits where put in place originally. Even entry level Kia econobox has more safety and technology today than a top of the line Mercedes Benz from 15 years ago.

    • rhweir says:

      Spaceships eh? Ever been in a real accident? It’s bad, real bad even in a modern day spaceship. WE all need to be very careful especially with the elderly population here who tend to do stuff like stop at green and go on red and drive thru Publix. Maybe raise it on 95 but not on US1.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Might as well raise the speed limit, if you do 70 MPH you are a hazard. State troopers are not enforcing the speed limit at 70, will they do any better job enforcing the speed limit at 75…….I doubt it !!!!

  19. Lightfoot says:

    Unbelievable irresponsible idiots we have in government and behind the wheel of vehicles. The whole REASON the speed limit was brought back down to 55 years ago was to SAVE LIVES ! Then they kicked it up to 65 then 70 because “speed racer” just bought a new fast car and needed to go faster. Now they want to take the limit up to 75 which really means “speed racer” will do 105. My children and grandchildren have to travel on ALL these roads.There are not enough law enforcement out there now to handle the idiots on the roads. Camera’s up the WA-ZOO but no physical presence……This would be a TERRIBLE mistake.

    • For Lightfoot: Actually, the one and only reason 55 mph limits were mandated 40 years ago was to save fuel due to the first Arab Oil Embargo.
      Please also note these facts. In 1973 when the 55 mandate law was passed, the fatality rate was 4.2 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Today it is just over 1.0, so driving is 4 times safer today per mile traveled than in 1973. Also, the fatality rate on a limited access freeway is about half that of the rate on a surface highway.
      Most of what the public believes about speed limits is false, full of myths, and those myths are perpetuated by the groups in the revenue stream from speeding tickets given to safe drivers using artificially low and under-posted speed limits.
      Correct limits improve safety and end the use of predatory speed traps for money.
      James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

      • Bill Payne says:

        “myths are perpetuated by the groups in the revenue stream”:
        insurance industry benefits from higher premiums due to improperly established speed limits,
        local, county, state government: ditto
        Federal bureaucracy-NHTSA began touting Road Rage when the 55 mph limit was eliminated & fatalities fell year after year and their old saw, “Speed Kills” could no longer be used to justify their funding & existence.
        The greatest hazard to motorists, especially on limited access roads is speed differential.

        Mr Walker is spot on in each of his posts!

    • johnny taxpayer says:

      Actually the speed limit drop was more about fuel savings than safety.

  20. The Truth says:

    This is a very bad decision in my opinion. I-95 and US-1 are already dangerous enough with the speed limits where there at. Raising the limit to 75 MPH is going to cause people to drive even faster than they normally would and also force people who normally wouldn’t drive that fast to drive faster than they should be. The faster you go, the less control you have over your car. A senior citizen driving at 75 MPH on I-95 is a scary thought (so is 70 MPH). I hope this doesn’t go through.

  21. Sherry Epley says:

    It is amazing to me that no one has mentioned that the elderly (who perhaps should not be driving at all) are FORCED to drive the highways because Florida’s governors and legislatures have been hell bent on stopping the development of any real PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!

  22. Pogo says:

    No doubt Walmart, FedEx, et al (after all – they built it) will contribute as much for the new signs, etc, etc as they spent on the their puppet pols…

  23. Seminole Pride says:

    I usually drive between 75 and 80, anyway. Good Ideal. Cars are safer and faster.

  24. Judy says:

    Everybody is driving faster anyway, this wouldn’t change a thing

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