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Article updated: 4/16/2013 7:30 PM

Oberweis: Raise speed limit to 70

By Mike Riopell

SPRINGFIELD -- Drivers would be allowed to legally go 70 mph on tollways and interstates in Illinois under a plan from state Sen. Jim Oberweis that won preliminary approval Tuesday.

Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, told a Senate committee that people already drive that fast, so a faster speed limit would be more realistic.

"In my opinion, it's not good to have laws on the books that are widely ignored," Oberweis said.

Lawmakers on the committee agreed, sending it to the full Senate for further debate.

The legislation could allow suburban counties to opt out of the higher limit if they wanted.

The plan faced criticism from the Illinois State Police and Department of Transportation.

IDOT's interim director of the Division of Traffic Safety, John Webber, told lawmakers higher speeds cause more -- and more serious -- collisions.

Webber said the agency thinks average drivers now go between 5 and 10 mph over the limit on average, and he thinks people will just speed even more if the limit is raised to 70 mph.

All suburban lawmakers on the panel voted for Oberweis' plan.

The last Illinois argument over interstate speed limits dragged on for years.

In 2011, lawmakers agreed to allow semitrailer trucks to drive at the 65 mph speed limit, up from 55 mph. That change took effect in January of 2012.

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