Drivers will be able to legally go five miles an hour faster on most Illinois highways, beginning in January. Governor Pat Quinn has signed a new law increasing the speed limit to 70 miles an hour.
Quinn bucked the advice of his Department of Transportation, which opposed the legislation. IDOT says a higher speed limit will raise average speeds, leading to more crashes and fatalities. But the measure's sponsor, State Representative Jerry Costello from Smithton, says more accidents happen because of vehicles traveling at DIFFERENT speeds, not HIGHER speeds.
"If cars are driving at 70 miles-an-hour on average, someone who's doing 60 has a higher propensity of being in an accident than someone who's doing 80. So actually the slower-moving traffic causes most of the accidents."
In a news release, the Governor encouraged drivers to be smart about the new law.
“This limited five miles-per-hour increase will bring Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors and the majority of states across America, while preventing an increase in excessive speeding. I encourage all motorists to continue to respect our traffic laws, avoid distractions and exercise common sense behind the wheel to protect the safety of themselves and others.”
The law makes an exception for Cook County and the seven collar counties, which can choose to opt out and keep lower speed limits in congested areas. It's the latest of several new driving laws that will take effect next year, including a ban on hand-held phones behind the wheel.