Wisconsin panel to discuss 70 mph speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/30/2013

The public will get to make their voices heard this week on a Wisconsin bill to move speeds limits up to 70 mph.

The Assembly Transportation Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, Oct. 1, to discuss a bill that would raise the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on rural four-lane highways.

Specifically, Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, introduced the bill – AB389 – to boost the speed limit for all vehicles on freeways and expressways. However, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation would be able to set lower speeds near cities.

Tittl said the change is needed to avoid having the state fall behind other states in the region. He pointed out that Wisconsin soon will be one of only two states west of the Appalachian Mountains with speeds for motorists below 70 mph – Oregon. Eight states limit large trucks to speeds below 70 mph.

Opponents say that higher speeds result in higher numbers of crashes and fatalities.

Supporters say the state would be well served to adopt speeds that more closely reflect the 85th percentile rule. The method is used to set speed limits at or below the speed at which 85 percent of traffic is moving.

According to WisDOT, all four interstates have 85th percentile speeds that exceed 70 mph. The highest rate is 78 mph on portions of Interstate 43.

“When I talk to people about raising the limit, many of them say it’s about time,” Tittl said in a recent news release. “They have driven safely in other states and like the option of driving a few miles per hour faster on our roads too.”

OOIDA leadership says it’s imperative for road safety that any changes made to driving speeds promote uniformity.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said “it’s about time” the state authorizes 70 mph speeds.

“Increasing the speed limit will benefit tourism ... and businesses by more swiftly moving goods from creators to consumers,” Vos said in prepared remarks. “We sure hope to make it a reality soon here in Wisconsin.”

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

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