Push to increase Wisconsin speeds on the horizon

| 7/20/2005

If a Wisconsin state lawmaker gets his way, drivers on certain highways in the state would be able to cruise along at speeds 10 mph faster than the current limit.

Sen. Tom Reynolds, R-West Allis, is pushing the idea of raising the state’s 65 mph speed limit on rural interstates and expressways to 75 mph.

“We have an artificially low speed limit at 65,” Reynolds told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, noting that drivers already exceed that limit.

He said the higher limit would lead to safer roads because all drivers would travel at the same speed.

Opponents, including chairs of the Assembly and Senate transportation panels, have raised concerns that the move could increase traffic fatalities. Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle also cited safety concerns when asked about the proposal.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation hasn’t yet taken a formal position on the effort.

Eric Skrum, a spokesman for the National Motorists Association, a Wisconsin-based group, likes what he hears about the proposed legislation.

“This is going to make the roads safer,” Skrum told Land Line.

Skrum said the majority of traffic is traveling 75 mph already. He said raising the speed limit will mean that more people will be driving the same speed.

“Traffic will flow much smoother. You will have less weaving in and out of traffic, less tailgating and less congestion because the majority of the traffic is going roughly the same speed. It’s a safer driving environment,” Skrum said. “Speed doesn’t kill. It’s the speed differential that causes accidents.”

Reynolds intends to formally introduce the bill some time after Thursday, July 21.

By Keith Goble, state legislative editor