Lawmakers fight to raise Florida's speed limit

AAA raises safety concerns, opposes speed limit hike

Published On: Jan 28 2014 09:19:40 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 28 2014 11:00:00 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

The speed limit of certain roads in Florida could get a boost of 5 miles per hour under a bill making its way though Tallahassee that would allow FDOT engineers higher flexibility in setting speed limits.

Supporters of the speed limit bill argue drivers would be safer if the speed limit better reflected the higher speeds people actually drive.

But opponents of the bill, like Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, don't see the benefit.

"I'm concerned about lives and I'm really concerned about the fact that people are all fired up now for anything -- they wanna run over you, shoot you, run you off the highway," Joyner told the Senate Transportation Committee, while telling the committee she was concerned the bill could lead to more road rage.

Under the bill, highways like I-95 could jump from 70 to 75 miles per hour in certain spots. Portions of SR-50 in Brevard County could jump from 65 to 70 mph.

The Florida Highway Patrol is watching the bill and hasn't taken an official stance yet. Sgt. Kim Montes pointed out that FDOT would have to determine whether a road is safe enough for a speed limit increase, and not every road would qualify.

Roads are designed for a certain speed," Montes said. "When engineers put a road speed limit sign up, they look at the road, the curves, congestion, entrance and exit ramps. So they design a speed to fit that roadway, and if you go over that speed limit then you can increase your chances of having a crash."

Reaction among Orlando drivers has been mixed.

"We're already rushing as much as we are anyway why do we need to be able to go faster to get there and possibly harm other people?" Laura Williams said.

"I really don't think there's an impact on a little faster," Star Chupp said, "There's no texting now, so it's safer!"

A driver who got pulled over for speeding in front of Local 6 supported the idea of a higher speed limit.

"If I wouldn't have been pulled over, I'd think it was a great idea, yeah," he said.

AAA plans to keep fighting the bill. The auto club believes defeating the bill could help save lives.

"We feel that motorists already know that they can get off on a warning with 6 mph, so they tend to go a little bit faster, that's no secret," said AAA spokesperson Vanessa Jones. "Increasing the speed limit will more than likely increase fatalities. We've seen numbers, year after year, increase and it's due to speeding."

The bill wouldn't mandate higher speed limits. Instead, it just allows FDOT engineers to raise it on certain roads where engineers think it makes sense.