The Illinois legislature is considering a bill to raise the speed limit on interstate highways from 65 mph to 70 mph. The bill's main advocate is Republicn state Sen. Jim Oberweis, whose family's dairy trucks travel those interstates every day.
As a frequent interstate traveler, I have observed that traffic moves at 10 to 15 miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit. The speed limit is now 65 and most traffic goes 75 to 80 miles per hour. Those trying to obey the true limit find themselves nearly being chased off the road by much faster traffic.
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I have also noticed this phenomenon in construction zones. I find myself cowering in the right lane, driving as close to 45 as traffic behind me allows, while those in the left lane are finally driving close to the 65 mile per hour speed limit.
I hate to tell Sen. Oberweis, but trucks are often the biggest offenders against the speed limit. In Illinois trucks have a speed limit of 55 mph, 10 mph below that of passenger cars. I assume that Oberweis' proposed speed limit would rise for trucks, also. As if the vision of cars going 10 to 15 mph over the posted limit weren't bad enough, I dread to think of his milk tankers doing the same.
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute ties higher speeds with higher loss of life. Contrary studies are available, but we should look at their motives. I trust insurance carriers, those who must pay in the wake of carnage on our highways.
Illinois' elected representatives must decide whether a faster movement of people and goods is worth the carnage and costs that will surely ensue.