Letter: Hit the gas on speed limit increases

To the Editor:

The recently signed 70 mph speed limit bill begins to undo the damage done by the national 55 mph limit established in 1973.

After reading the recent Illinois speed limit bill and discussing it with sponsor Jim Oberweis, it is clear to me that the bill was intended to cover, and should apply to, metro Chicago.

IDOT and the county boards should stand aside and allow metro Chicago limits to revert to 70 mph. All the evidence indicates that there would be no negative impact on safety. Overall, metro Chicago highway safety would be improved. Here’s why:

• Only 11 percent of fatalities occur on Illinois interstates.
• Higher speed limits on interstates help draw traffic away from secondary highways that are more dangerous.
• Most drivers, including the police, ignore posted limits.
• Higher interstate speed limits improve safety by reducing speed variance, road rage and weaving.
• Under-posted speed limits breed disrespect for all laws and leave drivers bored, unengaged and distracted.
• Insurers and others who profit from speeding tickets tend to cite studies that count the raw number of fatalities rather than looking at the rate per mile driven. The actual fatality rate has fallen steadily for decades.
• Higher limits reduce congestion and may save fuel by allowing drivers to keep a steadier pace.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, unlucky drivers who “go with the flow” of average traffic speeds could pay a $1,500 fine and go to prison for 6 months. If nothing changes, that will be the penalty for going 81 mph in metro Chicago.

It is absolutely critical that Chicago area interstate speed limits be set properly. The 55 limit is a bad joke and the notion of going to jail for 81 is asinine.

It’s time we put an end to it.

Steve Doner
Former Illinois Chapter Coordinator
National Motorists Association