Rick Scott All That Stands Between Florida Drivers and 5 Miles an Hour More

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: May 1, 2014 3:55 AM
Speed Limit

Despite emotional arguments against a bill that would authorize the Florida Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit 5 miles per hour on some roads, the House of Representatives -- in a squeaker -- voted to send CS/SB 392 to the governor.

The final vote was 58-56, with eight members not voting.

It was close enough so at least one representative, Irv Slosberg, D-Delray Beach, hoping for buyers' remorse, called for a reconsideration of the legislation at the end of the day's business; the attempt failed, however. The bill had already been returned to the Senate where it originated.

CS/SB 392 doesn't require increasing speed limits on specific roads, but it enables FDOT to do so.

The most passionate and personal argument came from Slosberg, who reminded the chamber that his daughter was killed in a car crash "and a speeder was involved."

"Our constituents back home didn't send us up here to raise the speed limit," Slosberg said.

Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said, "I can't in good conscience do something that's going to cost somebody their life."

Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka, said the bill had a personal face in his mind, too. "I don't want to read in the paper that someone in my district was killed late at night becacuse they were driving too fast."

Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, a former lawman, begged his House colleagues to do the right thing: "Listen to the old law enforcement officer and let him tell you one more time ... vote this bill down."

But in the end, Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, sponsor of the bill in the House, won the day with a simple argument: "This law's a matter of logic and reason," he said.

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.

Increase the speed limit by 5 mph and it won't be just the speed limit that goes up, said the bill's detractors; car insurance rates will shoot up, too.

If the bill is now 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.

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.

The last 5 mph added to Florida highway speed limits came in 1996, from 65 mph to 70 mph.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the economic cost to society for speeding-related crashes is $40.4 billion a year, $76,865 per minute, or $1,281 every second. Two lawmakers alluded to those statistics Wednesday.

The bill was opposed along the way by all law enforcement agencies. “I spent 30 years watching people die on the roads, and I can’t support anything that would add to that sad body count,” Wakulla County Sheriff Charlie Creel, who served 30 years as a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, said when the bill first surfaced in committee. “This proposal is a bad idea that would be a dangerous law.” 

Slosberg has indicated he will appeal to the governor for his veto.

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

Comments (9)

1:27PM MAY 8TH 2014
IF he okays the raise in speed limit, Rick Scott should stand in FRONT of all that traffic!
1:38AM MAY 5TH 2014
Stop the hypocrisy. No speed limit on highways. If you want safe get a tricycle
4:46PM MAY 3RD 2014
The 75 mph speed is PERFECTLY SAFE!

If one were to look at the 75 mph states and their death rates in 1996 (the end of the 55 era) and 2011 you would notice that AAA is being HIGHLY MISLEADING on their claims!

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)


1:29PM MAY 8TH 2014
Uh huh. and guns don't kill people, people kill people.
Paul Henry
11:59AM MAY 2ND 2014
Like several of the folks mentioned, I'm also a retired Florida law enforcement officer. While I don't know their backgrounds, mine includes a lot of traffic work as a trooper, homicide investigator, and line supervisor. I worked through the period of the NMSL (national maximum speed limit) placed on our Interstates. When you compare the vehicles traveling the roadways over the time in question (say 1986 to present), you'll see now they are markedly safer. Speed alone does not cause crashes. Inattention and impairment are considerable factors.

The proper means for assessing a speed limit is recognizing the design of the road and the 85th percentile speed of the traffic upon it (the average speed of 85% of the traffic). If you have a roadway that can safely handle rural traffic at 80 MPH, then it is counter-intuitive to place a 55 MPH limit on it, as traffic will inherently be far faster. As with red light cameras, if the goal is truly safety, then proper engineering and rules must be applied. If the goal is revenue, then sub-par speed limits will remain.

Another factor is differential speed. Placing a 75 MPH upper limit on an Interstate highway must be combined with a similar raise in the minimum speed. When vehicles are moving at about the same speed, the likelihood and severity of injury is decreased.
James Sharp
11:51PM MAY 1ST 2014
Using the bill's opponents' logic, if politicians were TRULY concerned with "saving lives", why do they not impose a statewide TWENTY miles per hour speed limit??? Think of all the lives that would be "saved".
Stephen Donaldson
10:35AM MAY 1ST 2014
The "sky is falling" crowd is BEING HIGHLY DISHONES!


THE FL DEATH RATE HAS DECREASED BY ALMOST 50% SINCE the END of the 55 mph limit! www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesFatalitiesFatalityRates.aspx

2.2 vmt in 1994 to 1.25 in 2011 (and 2010). THIS DESPITE HIGHER SPEED LIMITS!

The 75 MPH speed is safe!

Even one rep made this comment:

“ Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, said opponents were overreacting to a bill that simply gave transportation experts more authority. "We're finding a bogeyman in the details that doesn't even exist," Patronis said.”

Governor Scott, PLEASE SIGN THE 75 MPH Bill! This is SAFE in rural interstates!
Frank Massaro
6:47AM MAY 1ST 2014
here we go again...remember when motorcycle helmet restrictions were lifted.........fewer vegetables....less cost to the health care system....
seems like good economic sense.....it really is all about money.....sad
Robert Heiney
6:30AM MAY 1ST 2014
Five my is not going make that much of a difference in the highway death rate. I drive I 10th and 75 2 to 3 times a year. People fly by me when I'm going 72. I like the German solution. Drive at your own risk.

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