Lawmakers look to increase speed limit to 75 mph

Traffic fatalities decline most years after speed limit raised to 70 mph in 1995


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Efforts to raise the speed limit to 75 mph in Florida have been in the slow lane so far this legislative session, but lawmakers are about to put the petal to the metal.

The speed limit was raised to 70 mph in 1995. Since then, traffic fatalities have gone down every year but one. Lawmakers want to kick the speed up to 75 mph.

"This bill takes myth and politics, and replaces it with fact and engineering," said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Palm Beach.

After being stalled for weeks the legislation cleared a key hurdle Thursday.

"Speed limits are probably the most commonly violated law outside of prohibition," said Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. "We really need to update our laws."

On Interstate 10, most traffic was already moving faster than the posted 70 mph. Steve Cooper is a retired firefighter who was walking his dog at a Florida rest area on his way home to Missouri.


"You drive 75 now is what your wife says you drive," said reporter Mike Vasilinda. "Would you go faster if the speed limit were 75?"

"No, I don't think so," said Cooper.

But most studies say otherwise. The bill staff analysis said that by raising the speed 5 mph, the average speed will go up 3 mph.

AAA Motor Clubs doesn't like faster speeds. It says most states with higher speed limits are seeing fatality rates above the national average.

"Distracted driving, cellphone usage, speed-related that we're gonna have more deaths and as you know speeding kills," said Karen McFarlane, of AAA Motor Clubs.

Speed limits could only be raised after a safety study but never through urban areas; they couldn't be higher than 70 mph on a divided non-interstate roadway.

One roadblock to higher speeds could be the House Economic Affairs Committee. It has yet to put the bill on the agenda for its final meeting next week.