AAA to urge Gov. Scott to veto speed limit increase

Sponsors of bill argue people already driving over posted speed limit

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – AAA said Thursday it will formally request that Gov. Rick Scott veto Senate Bill 392, which would allow the Florida Department of Transportation to post higher speed limits on many Florida highways.

If signed into law, Florida would join Maine as the only states east of the Mississippi River allowing legal speeds higher than 70 miles per hour, according to AAA.

"We absolutely want the speed limit to stay the way it is," said Dina Watson, with AAA. "(We) would even like for it to go a little bit lower."

Other states that raised their speed limits above 70 mph saw an increase in speed-related traffic deaths, according to AAA. A total of 16 states allow speeds greater than 70 and most are now well above the national average of 30 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"We're deeply concerned for the safety of Florida's roadway users with cars traveling at increasingly higher speeds on our interstates and other highways," said Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president and chief public affairs officer for AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Based upon similar action in other states, this change in state law will likely result in more crashes, injuries and deaths on our highways."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 10,219 deaths, or nearly a third of all motor vehicle fatalities, occurred in speed-related crashes in 2012. NHTSA estimates that the economic cost of speed-related crashes is more than $40 billion each year.

Sponsors of the bill argue people are already driving over the posted speed limit. If Scott signs the bill, AAA said it will continue to encourage drivers that you don't always have to drive the maximum posted speed limit.

"It's not the speed limit that's necessarily the case; you want to observe the road conditions," said Watson. "Are you in a school zone? Are you going through a residential area or a construction zone?"

The bill would give the Department of Transportation the authority to decide what highways would see the increase. The DOT said these are the areas in Duval County that could be changed:

  • I-10 West of US 301
  • I-95 South of rest area at CR 210
  • I-95 North of Airport Road

If it's signed, the law would go into effect July 1. The DOT could begin replacing signs as early as fall.