An Iowa House panel has approved a bill that would permit
drivers to legally drive 70 mph on rural interstate highways in the state. But
there could be a price to pay.
The House Transportation Committee voted 13-8 last week to
raise the speed limit and increase fines for driving over the limit. The
proposal now heads to the full House for further consideration.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Tjepkes, R-Gowrie, would
push the speed limit for all vehicles on the state’s four-lane expressways from
65 mph to 70 mph. Under HSB80, cities would maintain the authorization to set
Tjepkes, a former Iowa State Patrol trooper, told The
Quad-City Times the stiffer fines would act as a deterrent to higher
A driver traveling 65 mph in a 55 mph speed zone now pays
$43 in fines, surcharges and court costs. That would jump to $82 under the
Tjepkes said studies have shown drivers travel four-lane
divided highways in Iowa at an average speed of 71 mph regardless if the posted
speed limit is 65 or 70.
He discounts claims higher speeds would lead to more traffic
accidents on Iowa interstates. Tjepkes said a higher posted speed limit would
help drivers maintain close to the same speed and reduce passing.
“That’s where the accidents happen,” he told the newspaper.
Gov. Tom Vilsack has opposed raising the speed limit since
he took office in 1999. But he does want lawmakers to hike speeding fines.
Another highway bill before the House Transportation
Committee would fine drivers who linger in the left lane on highways.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Willard Jenkins, R-Waterloo,
would reserve the left lane of all multilane roadways, including freeways and
expressways, for drivers passing other vehicles.
HF126 would exempt drivers in
the left lane to turn or exit, or if traffic prohibits the vehicle from merging
back to the right.