Raising the speed limit even five miles on rural stretches of Florida’s roads could lead to more fatalities and injuries, according to a law enforcement official, consumer group spokesman and safety council official, who held a press conference Thursday to oppose a bill that would increase limits in certain areas.
“If this law passes and 100 more people die in Florida as a result of a higher speed limits, that would not surprise me,” said John Ulczycki, vice president of strategic initiatives for the National Safety Council.
Ulczycki was joined by Walter Dartland, executive director of the Consumer Federation of the Southeast, and Wakulla County Sheriff Charlie Creel, who all want to block SB 392, which was proposed by Senators Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth and Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.
The legislation, said Clemens, allows engineers at the Florida Department of Transportation to evaluate highways in rural areas, “basically where there are no population centers of more than 5,000 people,” to determine whether the speed limit could be increased by five miles per hour.
The proposed law, for instance could raise the speed limit from 70 to 75 miles per hour on interstates and other limited access highways. The measure, said Clemens, “bases speed limits on science rather than emotion. ... Traffic fatalities have reduced markedly since we did away with the national speed limit in the 90s.”
Clemens and Brandes say the law would better reflect the speed that motorists actually drive and that traveling with traffic is safer for motorists, while opponents say raising the speed limit would just cause motorists to drive faster.