New Hampshire bill would boost speed

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/19/2012

A New Hampshire state lawmaker wants to increase the speed limit by 5 mph on the state’s interstates. Another bill aims to improve safety on the state’s turnpike.

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, is the sponsor of a bill to boost the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on Interstates 89, 93 and 95. On stretches of interstate posted at 55 mph, the bill would authorize truckers and other drivers to go 60 mph.

The 65 mph speed limit on the New Hampshire Turnpike and other four-lane divided highways would remain unchanged.

The change on interstates would give New Hampshire the second highest speed limit in New England. Maine authorizes 75 mph speeds on a 110-mile portion of I-95 between Old Town and Houlton.

Vaillancourt said the change is necessary because most travelers already drive 70 mph on the interstates.

“Any law which is broken by three out of four people on a regular basis cannot possibly be a good law,” Vaillancourt wrote in a blog after conducting his own unscientific survey. “It breeds lack of respect for other laws. People are telling us with their pedal to the medal that 65 is not a reasonable speed.”

Critics question whether it’s a good idea to boost speeds to enable drivers to get to their destination a few seconds earlier.

Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Willis Fogg of Rindge, NH, said the state would be better off to keep the status quo on 65 mph speed limits.

“Most people are driving 70 mph as it is. If they raised the speed to 70 mph, people would drive 75,” Fogg told Land Line. “I think 65 is a good number. We are congested here in New England.”

The bill – HB1695 – is awaiting consideration in the House Transportation Committee. A hearing is scheduled on the bill for Feb. 14.

Another bill that truckers and other safety conscious travelers can appreciate is intended to improve safety on the New Hampshire Turnpike. Rep. Jordan Ulery, R-Hudson, introduced HB1374 to make speeds in excess of 5 mph over the posted limit at toll booths a reckless driving violation. Offenders nabbed for their indiscretion would also face double fines.

If approved, signs notifying travelers of the increased penalties would be posted at the eight toll plazas on the turnpike system. According to a fiscal note, the state expenses would total $6,232.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Hampshire, click here.

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