October 24, 2014

Assembly approves 70 mph speed limit

The state Assembly is giving a green light to a bill that would increase the speed limit on many Wisconsin highways to 70 miles an hour.

The legislation requires the Department of Transportation to increase the speed limit on interstate highways to 70 miles an hour, after it determines where the change can be made safely. It also requires the agency to study the possibility of making the change on other four-lane highways around the state.

Wisconsin’s neighboring states have already adopted the higher speed limit, and state Representative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) says we need to make the switch to catch up. He says many drivers in the state are already traveling at speeds above the current 65 mph limit, and studies in other states have shown average speed only slighltly increased once a higher limit was posted.

The bill still drew attacks from several Democrats, who questioned the possible impact it could have on safety. State Representative Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau), a former police officer, argued that faster speeds only lead to more deadly crashes. Tittl countered though that modern vehicle technology means drivers should be able to handle faster speeds. “Today we have a lot better tires, better braking systems, we have shoulder belts…and a variety of other safety improvements.”

The bill passed on a 63-32 vote, with a handful of Democrats joining Republicans in supporting the measure. It now heads to the state Senate, although it remains unclear when the chamber will take up the legislation.