70ºF

Fla. state lawmakers look to raise speed limits

Florida is currently 1 of 34 states that have speed limits of 70 mph or below

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida is one of 34 states that have speed limits of 70 mph or below, but two state lawmakers are suggesting the Sunshine State join the five other states that raised their speed limits in the last year.

Florida didn't adopt the 70 mph speed limit on interstates until 1995. Last year, nearly 900,000 speeding tickets were written across the state.

Two lawmakers are now proposing bumping the limit up to 75 on interstates.

The higher speed is just fine with George Martens.

"I'd like to see 80," said Martens.

Martens was on his way from Orlando to Illinois.

"These cars today are made to go about 90 miles an hour, and have all sorts of items to avoid distraction," Martens said.

Not everyone thinks it's a good idea. Danny Thomas worries motorists will start traveling faster than ever.

"Everybody's doing 80 plus, so if you raise it to 75, everybody will start doing 85 plus," said Thomas.

At least 15 states have higher speed limits than Florida's. In Texas, you can legally go 85 on some roads.

The Department of Highway Safety said the first thing they're going to do is check with states that have raised the limit above 70 and ask how it's working.

"What we're going to do is reach out to the other states that have had this pass and see what their issue were and the successes with it," said FHP spokesperson Capt. Nancy Rasmussen.

Channel 4 talked to several local drivers about the proposed change. Some, like Tom Boyda, think it's fine as long as people don't go overboard.

"I think it's a great idea," Boyda said. "It's not what it used to be. Used to be 55 and it didn't really save gas. Seventy-five works as long as people are not crazy."

But that's just it. Other drivers Channel 4 talked to are concerned that people already speed, and this will only encourage them to go even faster.

"It's really bad," said Jana Ryals. "People run you off the road already. They run you everywhere."

At this point, the bill would only be pushed forward if state engineers determine its safe, taking several factors into account.

Trucker Dan Taylor is all for traveling faster because it'll put more money in his pocket.

"I'm paid by the mile, so the more miles I can get out in a day and I can only drive for eleven hours, I make more money," Taylor said.

Taylor is from Kansas, where interstate speeds are already posted at 75.

State Sen. Jeff Clemons, one of two sponsors of the high limit, was quick to point out the higher limit would be on rural interstate and toll roads only. He also said motorists should be able to drive at whatever speed is safe.