After a sometimes-emotional debate, a divided Florida House on Wednesday gave final approval to a proposal that could lead to 75 mph speed limits on some highways.
The House voted 58-56 to pass the bill (SB 392), which was backed by the Senate last week. It now goes to Gov. Rick Scott.
Opponents said increasing speed limits would lead to more deadly crashes, with Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, telling the House that speed played a role in an accident that killed one of his daughters.
“You just never want to get that call,” Slosberg said. “A lot of us have kids and grandkids and you never want to get that call, your daughter died in a car crash.”
The bill would allow maximum speed limits of 75 mph on limited-access highways, up from the current 70 mph. It also would allow speed limits of 70 mph on other four-lane, divided highways outside urban areas, up from the current 65 mph.
But the measure’s supporters said the ultimate decisions about whether to raise speed limits would be left up to the Florida Department of Transportation. The agency would decide the safest speeds for highways, they said.
“I’m voting for this bill because we’re not changing the speed limit,” Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, said.
The close vote was highly unusual in the House and did not follow party lines. Slosberg attempted a procedural move a few hours later to bring the bill back for reconsideration, but that was defeated in a voice vote.
Florida’s maximum speed limit has been 70 mph since 1996. Rep. Matt Caldwell, a Lehigh Acres Republican who is the House sponsor of this year’s proposal, said some roads are designed to handle vehicles at higher speeds than 70 mph.
But Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, told House members he has been a funeral director for 43 years and was an ambulance attendant early in his career. He said he couldn’t vote for a measure that he is afraid could cost a life.
“I’m Dennis Baxley, I’m a speeder and I can’t vote for this bill,” he said.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
Stephen Donaldson says
The higher speed limit is safe!
GOV SCOTT PLEASE SIGN THE 75 MPH BILL.
WE ARE NOT GOING TO “die” driving 75 on a RURAL INTERSTATE!
Since we last increased speed limits, DEATH RATE DROPPED BY ALMOST 50%!
2.2 vmt in 1994 to 1.25 in 2011 (and 2010). (DESPITE HIGHER SPEED LIMITS and overall more traffic)
PLEASE LET ENGINEERS have the say! This 5 mph increase is SAFE!
you sir, have no clue how dangerous it is to drive those speeds…i don’t think most people in this country are mature enough to handle their hand held devices safely at those speeds or any speed…i will watch the white crosses be erected at an even faster pace…good luck…..
oh, i have 2 million safe miles with 80,000 under me….this is absolutely insane in florida….
do you honestly think the ones who want 75mph will do it? they will being doing 80-90, i for one am staying off the 75mph highways as much as possible. i don’t have to work not even part-time. my back yard faces 95 and that is where i will sit with a cold beer and watch the idiots have their wrecks from that spot
Duke Ganote says
You’re misinformed and demonstrates how poorly we educate drivers — of every age. And why we need 75.
Rural interstates are the roads with potential 75-mph limits, but accounted for about 1% of Florida’s traffic deaths in 2012 despite carrying 5% of traffic. IF the goal is safety, drivers should be educated — and law enforcement should be focused — on risky locations and behaviors than minor offenses on superhighways.
I tell my teenage daughters “You may not get caught by the police on a local road doing stupid maneuvers, but you can easily wrap your car around a tree, head-on into opposing traffic, or T-bone another vehicle at an intersection. But you’ll certainly get a ticket on the interstate, ’cause that’s where the cops hang out.” And that’s where most teenage traffic fatalities occur.
Supporting 75 is support rational speed limits, and enforcement focused on risky behaviors and dangerous locations. And that should save teenage lives.
Florida Native. says
It’s a non-issue. Nobody goes 70 mph. I’m more concerned with the pesky red light spy cameras.
The main problem with this is when the 18 year old kid driving 85 MPH in his ’98 Mitsubishi with bald tires
runs into the back of the Grandma doing 60 in the fast lane while both are calling the same 16 year old Granddaughter on their cell phones.
So now some drivers will drive 85. Watch the carnage develop even the innocent and children will be victims. What good is 75 in the fast lane after Gov. Bush signed you don’t have to move over to slower lanes. Road rage contributes to accident.s.
Ok, lets mix alcohol , marijuana , low IQ, texting, and road rage…Now raise the speed limit !
Yep, everything is going to be just fine.
Those saying they’ll stay off the 75mph roadways is fine with me, then they won’t get in my way..
Seminole Pride says
Just got back from Tallahassee, nobody was driving 70 mph on I 10, more like 80 mph would be better.
jarrod eden says
I just moved to Texas from Flagler Beach, we have 80 mph speed limits out here and I feel completely safe. I drive for a Heavy Haul company 500+ miles a day and rarely see anyone abusing the speed limit.
Please sign that bill. Just got back from trip to Texas 75 mph on most rural interstates, and in some areas Texas even is 85mph now. I noticed there was not as much speeding at the higher speed limits… Traffic flowed and traffic moved well together. I did not see any accidents in whole week I was there. please go to 75.