Higher speed limit proposed for Illinois


Senate Bill 2036 would increase the speed limit to 75 mph on Interstate 355, Interstate 80 and every interstate west of Interstate 355 and south of Interstate 80. Photo courtesy of Google Images

Bryanna Shinall, Staff Writer

A new piece of legislation proposed by the Illinois Senate seeks to raise the speed limit on highways and interstates.

Senate Bill 2036 would raise the maximum speed limit on highways with fewer than four lanes of traffic from 55 miles per hour to 60. The speed limit would also increase from 70 miles per hour to 75 on most major interstates in Illinois outside of Chicago.

Senator Jim Oberweis, a Republican from Sugar Grove, is the chief sponsor of the bill and argued that the law would help with the flow of traffic since most drivers travel at 75 miles per hour anyway, meaning an increase would be unlikely to further jeopardize safety.

Oberweis also sponsored the 2014 bill that was passed which raised the speed limit from 65 to 70 miles per hour on interstates.

Researchers suggest that speed limits should adhere to the “85 percent rule” – the idea that limits on main roads should reflect the speed that 85 percent of motorists drive.

McLeod Neale, an online mathematical studies student who currently resides in Florida, weighed in on the safety of driving at higher speeds.

“The higher speed limit makes it convenient. … I do not see any drawbacks to raising the maximum speed limit on highways,” said Neale.

Others have expressed concern about the safety of raising the speed limit and how it may affect the state’s growing number of traffic fatalities, believing that increased speeds will lead to increased rates of accidents.

“The speed limit would affect the time needed to travel, but also how safe the commute is,” stated Amanda Sluga, a commuter student from Bartonville. “I feel like this change would only increase traffic accidents.

While traveling I’ve encountered multiple close calls and almost hits from people speeding and swerving in and out.”

In 2016 alone, the state’s fatality rate rose more than 7%, cracking 1,000 roadway fatalities for the first time since 2008. According to Illinois Department of Transportation, we’ve already had over 90 deaths so far in 2017.

However, studies have shown that drivers adjusting to other drivers by frequently changing lanes and changing speeds is a major cause of accidents.

Social work student Sicely Nicholas weighed in how the legislation may affect Illinois drivers. “Increasing the speed limit to such a high rate may result in more accidents. You just don’t have control over your car as much when you’re going at a fast rate,” said Nicholas.

Montana, a state that raised its speed limit from 75 to 80 miles per hour in 2015, led the country in deaths related to speeding according to a 2013 report by the Auto Insurance Center.

Rural roads may stretch on with little to slow down drivers, which may prove fatal.

It is worth noting, however, that Montana has been a historically unique case; in 2001 the National Motorists Association referred to the period of 1995-1999 – when the state had no numerical speed limit – as “the safest period on Montana’s Interstate highways.”

Either way, it is important to note that this bill is still in the proposal stage, and has not been passed.

More information on SB 2036 can be found at http://ilga.gov/legislation/. If you have questions, comments, or concerns in regards to this bill, please contact your representative in the Illinois Senate.