Could a Faster Speed Limit Mean Less Deadly Crashes?

- Rockford-The IDOT sign reads 387 traffic deaths in Illinois this year. It seems like a lot, but that number is down nearly 25% according to state police. Highways like I-39 are not the crash scenes some envisioned when lawmakers raised the speed limit to seventy miles per hour on rural interstate highways this year,

Senator Dave Syverson was a sponsor for the bill. He says "That's what really works best on these large divided highways. That you get more drivers moving at the same speed, it becomes actually safer, not more dangerous."

Local truck drivers say they support the bill. The higher speed limit has drivers passing, less, which keeps them out of trucker’s blind spots. Truck driver Dean Arnott says "It's easier when it's the same speed limit you know, because you don't have to pass. You just go with the flow of traffic."

Some drivers say Illinois is just catching up to speed with other Midwestern states that already have seventy miles per hour speed limits.  Motorist Deborah Stiller says "We've been driving back and forward from Michigan for the past twenty something years and it's always been great driving over there at 70. Nobody really exceeds 80; at the most that's what I've seen people driving. But pretty much everyone stays at 75 and it works great for them."

Illinois State Police cannot confirm if the higher speeds are the reason for decreased fatal crashes. But they do say enforcing seatbelt violations and cracking down on texting while driving are playing a factor.


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