CHICAGO, Ill. (KMOX) – It’s won’t be long before Illinois drivers will be able to get where they’re going a little faster.
Governor Pat Quinn had been mum on his decision-making to increase the speed limit on rural interstates to 70 mph (SB 2356), but in a statement Monday the Chicago Democrat said the bill brings Illinois in line with dozens of other states who have raised limits.
Quinn’s decision goes against his own transportation chief as well as the state’s police department. They want the speed limit to stay, 65 mph, and be able to more strictly enforce it.
Illinois State Police had said higher limits increase chances for accidents.
“What’s the most dangerous is the disparity in speed,” said Democratic state Rep. Jerry Costello II, a bill sponsor and former police officer.
He and fellow bill sponsor state Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Republican, said the increase would create a more even traffic flow.
Those opposed pointed to a 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health examining traffic fatalities that happened between the federal speed limit being dropped and 2005.
It found a 3.2 percent increase in deaths attributable to the higher speed limits on all types of roads. The increase was highest on rural interstates, jumping 9.1 percent. The study estimated more than 12,500 deaths were attributable to the increased limits.
Nearly three dozen other states have raised their speed limits since federal limits ended in 1995.
The law, effective in January, is targeted toward roadways in less populated areas and bumps up the speed limit from the current 65 mph. Counties in more urban areas, including Chicago’s Cook County, have the choice to opt out and are expected to do so.
Quinn signed legislation last week to ban the handheld use of cellphones by drivers, focused on keeping Illinois in line with regional and national trends.
“This limited five miles-per-hour increase will bring Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors and the majority of states across America, while preventing an increase in excessive speeding,” Quinn said in a statement. “I encourage all motorists to continue to respect our traffic laws, avoid distractions and exercise common sense behind the wheel to protect the safety of themselves and others.”
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