November 29, 2014

Safer vehicles offset higher speed limit

It’s not legal to drive 70 miles an hour, as the bill awaits Senate approval. The state Assembly has already given the green light to a 70 mph speed limit, but its fate is uncertain in the Senate as opponents lobby against the measure.

Brian Landers is a traffic law and traffic crash investigation instructor at Madison College. He doesn’t see a problem with the higher posted limit, saying surrounding states have equal or higher speed limits. “I don’t think that the increase of 5 mph is going to see any large increase in fatal crashes in Wisconsin. I think that that’s easily offset not only through the advancements in technology in vehicles, but also through the education and enforcement of law enforcement.”

Landers points to higher vehicle safety standards, including better seat-belts, blind spot monitoring, air bags, breaking systems, and other improvements, as contributing factors in a reduction of fatal crashes nationally and statewide.

AUDIO: Landers doesn’t believe 5 mph will have a negative impact on the roads :58

Green Bay-based Schneider National — the nation’s largest trucking company — has safety and fuel efficiency concerns. Landers says 70 is a maximum speed; it’s not mandatory. “Depending upon your driving habits, and depending upon the road conditions and the weather conditions … you know, no one is forcing you to go 70 mph. So, if Schneider National or if any motorist out there feels like 65 is their safe limit, then they can still do 65 miles an hour.”

The bill’s author — state Representative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) — says many motorists are already driving faster than the current 65 mph limit and it makes sense that the legal speed is adjusted accordingly.

Landers says whether a motorist is driving 10 miles an hour or 70, he needs to be sober, buckle up, and practice safe driving skills, which means regardless of the legal speed limit, a driver must slow down if conditions warrant.