Columns

Gov. Scott, Please Veto the Speed-Limit Increase Bill

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: May 9, 2014 7:19 PM
I Beg to Differ

Somehow -- doubtfully by the grace of God, but somehow -- the bill that would allow a 5 mph speed-limit increase on some Florida roads now awaits the governor's pleasure. Not imminently, but eventually.

SB 392 lurched from committee to committee with unanswered questions and bare-bones success every step of the way, then passed by a meager two votes on the House floor two days before sine die. Eight members didn't vote.

Be honest. In a state that otherwise loads us up with safety precautions on the road, that keeps us strapped in seat belts, our kids in car seats, our bikers in motorcycle helmets, our blood alcohol at 0.08 or below, how is this bill not a complete farce?

No wonder a line is forming -- led by the American Automobile Association and Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Delray Beach -- to ask Gov. Rick Scott to strike down the law no agency asked for and apparently no agency wants.

AAA, FDOT, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Sheriffs Association, AARP -- none of the above are asking for this. Nor could either bill sponsor, Republican Matt Caldwell in the House or Democrat Jeff Clemens in the Senate, where it had a smoother ride, explain why the bill is needed.

In a May 1 letter requesting a meeting with the governor, AAA Senior Vice President Kevin Bakewell wrote, "Increasing speed limits on Florida roadways would result in more speed-related crashes, injuries and deaths and hinder the state's effort of moving toward zero traffic fatalities."

For Slosberg, a meeting with the governor would be more personal. His daughter Dori, at 14, was killed in a car crash, along with four other teens, while their seat belts were unbuckled and the driver -- sentenced to 15 years in prison -- was speeding. Slosberg made a passionate plea during the House debate to defeat the bill: "I don't want any other parent or family to get the call we got that night ... Please don't let this bill happen."

Even after SB 392 passed -- because of the close 58-56 vote and hoping for buyers' remorse -- Slosberg called for a reconsideration of the legislation at the end of the day's business; the attempt failed.

House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said it all. "This is one of those bills you could live to regret over and over again, with every fatality. ... I can't in good conscience do something that's going to cost somebody their life."

The bill doesn't require increasing speed limits on specific roads, but it enables the Florida Department of Transportation to do it.

The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies reported in 2006 that increasing the speed limit from 55 to 65 in 1986 increased the probability of a fatal crash by 24 percent; advancing it from 65 to 75, the study said, would increase the likelihood by 12 percent.

Think of that for a moment. Those numbers were out there as the bill moved through both chambers; maybe all lawmakers weren't listening -- but maybe Gov. Scott will.

Increase the speed limit by 5 mph and it won't be just the speed limit that goes up; so will car insurance rates. How much, we don't know. We never heard from insurers.

If the bill is signed into law, the Florida Department of Transportation will study its roadways and decide on the safe maximum and minimum speeds. Then the agency can raise the limit to 75 mph along highways that currently are posted at 70 mph. Or not.

Original discussion included long stretches of Interstates 10, 75 and 95, and parts of Florida's Turnpike.

The limit could go from 65 mph to 70 mph along other roadways outside of an urban area of 5,000 or more people -- roads with a total of at least four lanes divided by a median strip.

It somehow seemed ironic that on the day SB 392 was debated on the House floor, torrential rain storms in Northwest Florida were flooding parts of Interstate 10 and major roadways like U.S. 98 east of Gulf Breeze. Highways where cars speed along at 70 mph or faster were under water and awash with accidents over long stretches.

No warning flag there?

The governor doesn't have the bill on his desk yet. It's coming -- but there's still time for him to listen, apply his common sense and correct this purposeless mistake of a bill. 



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. 
 


Comments (15)

rc
1:05PM MAY 12TH 2014
I consider this a waste of time and computer space. Vehicles are much safer now than they were. The biggest problem is the people that cant read or understand english. Also they come to this country without taking so much as a test to put it in drive. 5mph increase will not matter. You need to require a comprehensive sign writing and comprehensive understanding of the traffic signs before you give out a drivers license.Also, they need to stop shelling drivers license to the highest bidder, and do a more through screening for employment.g, ddd
Jeff C.
7:09PM MAY 10TH 2014
Nancy, just when I thought you could not disappoint me further, you once again reach new lows.

How about you just regulate that at no time can a car be manufactured that can exceed 70 mph? How about making it mandatory to retrofit all cars ever made so they cannot exceed 70 mph?

I am surprised you did not pull out the old "save fuel" gag. Come to think of it where are the the environmental conserve fuel drive 55 zealots?
Henry Stowe
10:47AM MAY 10TH 2014
This paper is playing fast and loose with statistics. The only way to measure the effect of a policy is to measure the statewide fatality rate.The fact is that fatality rates have dropped significantly in states with 75 mph speed limits. Tha national fatality rate was 1.69 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1996. In 2011, it was 1.10. Reviewing the statistics, below, the fatality rate has dropped at least as fast if not faster than the fatality rates in other states.

Here are the other 75 mph states. Notice that with one exception (ND), every state had a DECREASE in the DEATH RATE!

AZ 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.36 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.38
ID 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.99 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.05 (Now 80 mph)
KS 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.89 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.29
ME 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.32 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: .95
MT 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.12 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.79
NE 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.80 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: .95
NV 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.18 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.02
ND 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.26 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.62
OK 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.96 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.47
SD 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.24 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.23
TX 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.02 2011 with 75 mph AND 80 MPH speed limit death rate: 1.27.
UT 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.64 2011 with 80 mph speed limit death rate: .92
WY 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.94 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.46 (Now 80 mph)

TX which has 70 mph limit on two lane roads, 75 mph limit on 4 lane roads, and 80 mph on rural interstates. had a 2011 death rate of 1.27.

FL Death rate is 1.25!

It is time to seperate myth and folklore from fact. The fact is that 75 mph speed limits are at least as safe as lower ones. SIGN THE BILL, GOVERNOR SCOTT.
Traffic Consultant
11:27AM MAY 10TH 2014
I'm surprised Smith didn't use some of the good material from a previous article a couple months ago----"DON'T RAISE SPEED LIMITS". In it she had this paragraph which kind of flattens Henry's "fast states" story. She wrote---

"Traffically speaking, the trouble with Florida is, it's not Utah. In Utah, it's a kind of howdy-pardner-go-ahead-and-cowboy-it-up attitude. With 2.8 million people, 41st most densely populated state, there are boonies aplenty -- big, empty roads and wide-open spaces. Hence, the middle-of-nowhere 80-mph speed limit. But in Florida -- home to 19 million not counting bad-driving tourists -- you're looking at the eighth most densely populated state."
Henry Stowe
12:22PM MAY 10TH 2014
In fact, it looks like I took it from below and modified it. Facts are facts. I like what was said. Makes sense. Looks like the fatality rates in 75 mph states declined sharply from 1996 to today. At least as sharply as others. The data is based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
Henry Stowe
12:19PM MAY 10TH 2014
I did. I will admit it. Thank you.
Stephen
10:21AM MAY 10TH 2014
Let me also add that a FHP trooper talked to some 75 mph states:

hernandotoday.com/he/list/news/speed-limit-hike-could-hit-hernand...

"Steve Gaskins with the Florida Highway Patrol
said his agency contacted states that have increased speed limits to 75 mph to see if there has been a negative effect. “They didn’t seem to have a dramatic increases in crashes,” Gaskins said."

AS ARE TALKING A 5 mph increase! THIS IS SAFE!

AAA you are MISINFORMING EVERYONE IN FLORIDA! Sign SB 392!
Stephen
10:19AM MAY 10TH 2014
The 75 mph limit is SAFE!

Our death rate dropped from 2.2 in 1994 to 1.25 in 2011 WITH HIGHER SPEED LIMITS!

TX which has 70 mph on two lane road, 75 mph on divided highways, and 80 mph on interstates had their 2011 death rate at 1.27. (ALMOST IDENTICAL TO OURS).

75 mph is a SAFE SPEED. AAA HAS BEEN VERY MISLEADING ON THEIR "unsafe" claims too!

Here are the FARS data on the other 75 mph states (note UT 80 mph, TX 80 mph, ID and WY soon to be 80 mph).

AZ 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.36 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.38
ID 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.99 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.05 (Now 80 mph)
KS 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.89 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.29
ME 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.32 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: .95
MT 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.12 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.79
NE 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.80 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: .95
NV 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.18 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.02
ND 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.26 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.62
OK 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.96 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.47
SD 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.24 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.23
TX 1996 55/65 mph death rate 2.02 2011 with 75 mph AND 80 MPH speed limit death rate: 1.27.
UT 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.64 2011 with 80 mph speed limit death rate: .92
WY 1996 55/65 mph death rate 1.94 2011 with 75 mph speed limit death rate: 1.46 (Now 80 mph)

ENOUGH OF THE MISINFORMATION AAA!!!!!!!!!

Gov Scott please sign the 75 mph bill. The Speed limit is SAFE!
Mark
9:07AM MAY 10TH 2014
Funny to read this column and all the comments yet no one has touched on enforcement of existing traffic laws. IF local police would simply lift their heads to look around them, they wouldn't have to look very far to view all the existing traffic laws being broken. Without true enforcement, no law will ever be enough!
C-Breeze
8:44AM MAY 10TH 2014
yada, yada, yada, yada,...Florida is a BIG State with major, and well maintained, Interstate highways: the "5 mph" increase is looong over due AND a good idea. A BETTER idea would be to put your kids through a "driver training school" (if you are ill-equipped to teach them yourself, maybe YOU should accompany them for lessons too). Another good idea: Its way past time to develop a periodic "vehicle inspection system" to get "road-rat" vehicles off the roads. "5 mph" increase?? BRING IT GOV ! ! !
Malink
8:36AM MAY 10TH 2014
I couldn't disagree more. The biggest danger on the highway isn't driving 80 (since half of drivers do that anyway RIGHT NOW), its texting. Raising the speed limit 5 MPH would be a good thing. Would bring the speed limit up to where the flow of traffic is right now at this very moment on interstate 10, 95 and 75.

You people who want to drive 60 just stay on the small highways and leave the big boy driving to the rest of us with better reflexes and abilities. Good grief. Stop nannying people.
Frank
7:00AM MAY 10TH 2014
Yes, yes, let's do something that wastes more gas and kills more Floridians . . . . . the GOP's tinfoil thinking cap logic . . . .

Pathetic . . .
LDouglas
5:19AM MAY 10TH 2014
Hopefully, Governor Scott will also factor in Florida's growth. How many of the 200,000 or so a year are new drivers and how many are of retirement age? (Not to say either of those aren't capable drivers but experience and reaction time are very important the higher the speed limit.)

Hopefully he'll also factor in the number of tourists (spring breakers, retirees, bikers, foreigners) we get every year and the number he's hoping to increase it to. For the same reason above but also including unfamiliarity and that some quiet stretches may not be so quiet at certain times of the year.
Dean
5:28AM MAY 10TH 2014
What I do not get is the hpocrisy. Florida is a state that punishes anyone who breaks the law, often harshly and takes away their civil rights, often for life. Now suddenly, if you have been breaking the law, you are to be rewarded with higher speed limits? I just do not get it.
Dean
5:32AM MAY 10TH 2014
If this bill is signed into law then there can be no more speeding tickets as this law makes it a suggestion, not a limit, and if enough people violate it, it will be raised.

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.