70 MPH Speed Limit in Illinois Opposed by AAA

70 MPH Speed Limit in Illinois Opposed by AAA

AAA is urging Illinois legislators not to raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on state roadways.

“The Illinois legislature should not ignore the enormous speeding problem Illinois already has on its roadways,” said Brad Roeber, president of AAA Chicago.  “Speeding accounts for more than half of Illinois’ over 900 roadway fatalities, and this problem cannot be fixed by letting cars and trucks travel faster.”

Roeber’s statement sits in the shadow of some states that already have limits much higher. Texas, for example, recently raised now allows driver to travel at up to 85 mph on State Highway 130. Nevada is also considering an increase to the same speed.

Nevada State Senator Don Gustavson pointed to statistics from Utah that show fatality rates in areas with higher speed limits declining. Utah and Texas are the only two states that currently have 85 mph speed limits in place.

Data provided by AAA paints a different picture for Illinois. While fatalities dropped 12 perent between 2008 and 2011, deaths related to speeding rose 14 percent.

“Make no mistake, this bill allows large trucks to travel even faster on our roadways. The majority of large-truck fatalities involve motorists, who unfortunately don’t stand a chance against an 80,000 pound vehicle traveling at high speeds,” Roeber said.

  • zdt

    AAA is full of hot air and utter nonsense. There is no such thing as going too fast, only going too fast for given road conditions. Yes, speed limits are necessary in many instances, but on an empty freeway or straight highway with good weather conditions one can certainly travel at 70mph. Germany is the best example.

  • Chad Wilson

    Those deaths due to speeding happened despite the law capping the speed to 65. In other words, they were the breaking the law and just happen to suffer for it. As it stands now, the speed “limit” is one of the most ignored laws in existence. Try driving at 65 MPH through Chicago on I-80. Go ahead. Try. Let me know how it ends up if I don’t listen to the news report first.

  • Tony Rich

    The AAA is a insurance company of course they going to be against raising the speed limit they make a lot of money on the speeding tickets

  • Steve Doner

    To the Editor:

    With several states increasing speed limits recently, there has predictably been a fair amount of discussion and debate on the topic, much of it laced with uninformed claims and silly clichés like “speed kills”. Like the lies of a politician, most of these claims contain just enough truth, logic or emotional appeal to fool many people into listening.

    There are bigger issues to tackle in this world, but this is one of the few laws that touch the life of nearly every citizen every day. Most of us will never be charged with breaking a law, except on the road. We complain about various forms of government ineptitude, but we actually feel it on a daily basis when we get in our cars and drive on roads with under-posted speed limits. What a shame and what a great opportunity for politicians to get some easy points with citizens by simply requiring that speed limits be based on sound traffic engineering principles as they once were before the much-hated 55 limit came along forty or so years ago.

    Studies have long shown that speed limits have little effect on how fast people actually drive on open roads and any traffic engineer, and many state police departments, will explain that 85th percentile speeds are the proper way to set limits. This is the maximum speed at which 85% of traffic actually flows when unencumbered. A quick internet search will show that this is widely accepted as the best way to set speed limits. The National Motorists Association, the Michigan State Police and the Louisiana State Police are among those that pop up in a web search.

    So if people drive fast anyway, why waste money changing the signs? Good question, but there are some important reasons. Artificially low limits do not slow down the faster traffic but do cause several types of dysfunction which make the roads more dangerous, for example:

    • Speed Variance: slower traffic will tend to flow at or near the posted limit. When limits are too low, the speed differential between the fastest and slowest traffic increases. This is a leading cause of road rage, particularly when slower traffic does not keep right and yield to faster traffic.
    • Distracted Drivers: people multi-task when driving does not demand their full attention. Dumbed down limits tend to increase distracting activities further contributing to impaired drivers and road rage as slower traffic lumbers along in the passing lane chit-chatting on the phone, too busy to notice someone wants to pass.
    • Increased Use of Less-Safe Roads: when a shorter or cheaper two-lane route carries the same speed limit as an interstate highway fatalities can go up simply because people are not motivate to use the safer roads which sometimes carry tolls and are often less direct (but faster if speed limits allow it).
    • Punitive Speeding Penalties: some states, like Georgia and Illinois, have instituted so-called “super-speeder” laws. For going 30 over the limit a person can go to prison in Illinois. Most of metro Chicago is still posted at 55, so 30 over the limit is not unusual when the roads are clear. Most reasonable people would agree that 85 is not such an unreasonable speed, in modern cars in clear daytime weather, that offenders should go to jail. These same roads were posted at 65 or 70 forty years ago when cars were junk wagons compared to modern vehicles with anti-lock brakes, stability control, etc. Before 55, Nevada and Montana had no daytime speed limit at all.
    • Loss of Respect for All Traffic Laws: when limits are set at 55/65 on interstates, the government inadvertently teaches its citizenry that it is clueless about establishing proper traffic laws. This then leads drivers to disregard limits on roadways where 55/65 may be an appropriate speed…including construction zones, etc.
    • Waste of Resources on Tickets and Processing: in a busy world and an age of runaway government costs why bother will all the ticketing and processing costs unless it is necessary to make the roads safe (and it’s not).

    So why do we still have crazy-low speed limits on our interstates nearly 20 years after the national speed limit was finally lifted? Two big reasons:

    • Insurers: insurance companies like low speed limits which trigger more violations. The insurance surcharges (for points on license) are the primary reason that P&C insurance companies push to keep limits low – it enables them to charge higher rates without higher risk – it’s all profit. This is true of AAA as well. AAA is an insurance company pretending to be a motor club and is perhaps the motoring public’s most formidable foe.
    • Bureaucracy: during the 55 years states lost federal highway funds if they did not enforce the law that even police hated and laughed at. As a result, more troopers were hired and infrastructure was added to process all the tickets. Now, we have a bloated bureaucracy trying to preserve itself and which gladly teams up with the insurance lobby to harass and oppress motorists.

    Some have cited the fact that fatalities dropped when limits were reduced from 75 to 55 forty or so years ago. While true, they never seem to mention the fact that limits continued to steadily drop when limits started going back up. States which have increased limits, by and large, have experienced declines in fatality rates because of reduced speed variance and road rage as well as diversion of traffic onto safer (and faster) roads. The fatality rate even decreased in Montana which for some years had no daytime limit following the end of the 55mph national speed limit in 1995.

    One last point should not be overlooked – traffic congestion increases when speeds are lower. Heavy traffic can only move as fast as the slowest car and the slowest car will be going the speed limit. Like water through a hose, you can increase the flow rate by using a bigger hose or by increasing the flow rate. Slow down the flow of the main line and all the feeders back up. Lower limits mean more gridlock. Higher limits allow us to get more efficiency out of our existing infrastructure reducing the need to widen roads.

    Artificially low limits have nothing to do with safety. They are about politics and enrichment of insurers. Please tell the elected representatives that you want limits to be set based on the 85th percentile rule, especially on interstate highways.

    Steve Doner
    Former Illinois State Chapter Coordinator
    National Motorists Association

  • Steve Doner

    Further to my own comments, here is a true expert….

    Increased speed limit not a threat to public safety
    Sun, 05/26/2013 – 11:00am
    By Dan Metz

    A higher speed limit on interstate highways is a threat to public safety, says Kevin J. Martin, speaking for the Illinois Insurance Association. Speaking as an accident reconstructionist with 43 years of experience, more than 80 published scientific papers, and having investigated more than 1,200 road accidents and 150 racing accidents, that statement is pure nonsense.

    Fact: There are literally hundreds of scientific research papers that show that, absent massive police visibility and presence, drivers will travel at whatever speed they feel is comfortable for conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit. For rural interstate highways in Illinois, that speed is currently about 77 mph — coincidentally, the exact same average speed as on the unlimited-speed sections of the German autobahnen.

    Fact: The average death rate from automobile accidents on rural U.S. interstate highway systems is about 0.82 deaths per 100,000,000 miles traveled — coincidentally, the exact same death rate as on the unlimited-speed sections of the German autobahnen.

    Fact: Attributing a traffic fatality to “speeding” relies mainly on the judgment of the police officers who investigated the accidents, essentially none of whom has any training or education in scientific accident reconstruction, and therefore no factual basis for attributing a fatality to “speeding.”

    Fact: At one time, speed limits were set according to the 85th percentile rule: the limit was determined by the speed of the fastest 15 percent of traffic. Now, limits are set in a completely arbitrary fashion on interstate highways. Except for school zones and certain other special circumstances, the 85th percentile rule is a much more rational way to determine appropriate speed limits.

    Fact: The hated 55 mph interstate speed limit, now thankfully discarded, probably generated more disrespect for the rule of law than prohibition, drugs usage and nearly every other factor combined. It was uniformly ignored and even laughed at by police officers, who had monthly ticket quotas to fulfill, and thus a vested interest in issuing citations.

    Fact: Careful scientific studies indicate than 50-60 percent of all radar-based speeding tickets are erroneously issued, and could not withstand even a cursory legal defense if put forth by an expert scientifically trained in the use of radar for speed measurement. Radar is the predominant method of determining vehicle speed for purposes of ticket issuance.

    Fact: Many municipalities and other governmental bodies rely heavily on fines issued for speeding for a significant portion of their yearly budget. How else to explain the comical “driving school,” in which a person who supposedly broke the law is permitted to pay a higher fine in return for a blanket reduction of driver license points?

    Fact: The average speeding ticket costs a driver more than $3,000 in increased insurance premiums over a multi-year period. Insurance premiums have universally been based on the number of citations issued to an individual, but there is only very loose correlation between speeding citations issued and individual accident history.

    The insurance industry nationwide has made multibillion-dollar profits by selling the idea that “speed kills” to citizens, police officers and legislatures. Speed inappropriate for conditions is certainly a danger; 70 mph on a rural interstate highway is, if anything, actually far too low for a reasonable speed limit.

    The Eisenhower interstate highway system was designed for 85 mph travel in 1950s-era cars. For a modern car, 70 mph is not only safe, but really just loping along.

    Everyone involved in accident reconstruction already knows how to reduce the death toll on the highways of the U.S.: rigorous enforcement and prosecution of driving-while-impaired laws. DUI is routinely plea-bargained away and often even ignored. Drivers receive multiple DUI tickets and continue to drive anyway. Drivers even drive without valid licenses and instead of incarceration are given only a slap on the wrist and some “community service.” In many other countries, DWI laws are far more rigorously enforced, with predictable results: reduction in accidents and deaths.

    Graduated driver’s licenses, a BAC limit of 0.05 and rigorous prosecution of DWI would save more lives in one week than keeping the Illinois interstate speed limit at 65 mph will save in a year. The howls from the insurance industry reflect not scientific fact but a potential loss of massive profits.

    Dan Metz is a retired UI professor. He has reconstructed over 1,200 road accidents and 150 race accidents in a 43-year consulting career.

  • Steve Doner

    AAA is an insurance company pretending to be a friend to motorists. The motor club image makes them perhaps the most formidable enemy of drivers.