Wisconsin Gets Fast and Furious at 70 MPH
Rachel Pukall
rpuka198@uwsp.edu

A bill to raise the interstate speed limit to 70 mph in the state of Wisconsin was authorized by Assembly Representative Paul Tittl, who wants to maintain consistency between other states around us who have 70 mph speed limits on freeways.

“The law still has to be passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor,” Tony Babl, the community resource sergeant at the Stevens Point Police Department, said. “I believe there are still studies that need to be done. For example, they are now discussing if commercial truck traffic should remain at the 65 mph limit.”

Supporters of raising the speed limit believe that it would make the highways safer because not only are cars built safer, but many drivers are already going 70 mph in a 65 mph zone. This way, everyone will be going the same speed.

“I think if the speed limit is 70, it​will better regulate traffic with those who are driving 75 the majority of the time,” said Brooke Davis.

Babl thinks differently.

“I don’t necessarily agree with this reasoning. It is no secret that many drivers routinely drive above the posted speed limit and that most law enforcement have a small discretionary range before they will make a stop or issue a citation,” Babl said.

Nicole Pare is a driver with the tendency to drive over the limit.

“I always drive 73 mph and I don’t think I would change that even if the limit changed to 70. I just think there would be less speeding tickets given out,” Pare said.

There are also many people who like to drive at or below the posted speed limit.

“When the faster traffic meets the slower traffic, this is where many crashes occur, especially during winter weather road conditions in Wisconsin,” Babl said. “With a 70 mph limit, I feel that officer discretion

will have to be much lower for those traveling 5-10 over to try to decrease the gap in speeds.”

Davis agrees with this.

“I think raising the speed limit would be a good idea unless the weather conditions are bad, such as during a snow storm when people think others should be going faster since the speed limit is faster,” Davis said.

There will also be an assortment of hidden expenses if the law is passed by the state.

“There will be expenses for re-signing the roadways and I’m sure there will be numerous traffic studies and re-engineering of some highways,” Babl said. “Individual costs could include decreased fuel economy with some vehicles at 70 mph and any changes to insurance premiums are not yet known.”

One of the most important costs could be in human’s lives with increased traffic fatalities. As the speed increases, so does the likelihood of death or injury during a crash.

“In Stevens Point, we see many vehicle crashes but very few involve fatalities. This is directly related to the speeds involved,” Babl said.

Davis doesn’t think that raising the speed limit will have an effect on fatalities.

“A lot of people drive at least 70 and faster the way it is, so I don’t think in general it would cause more accidents,” Davis said.

Zach Koskey agrees with this.

“I don’t think it will cause more accidents because it’s only being raised 5 mph,” Koskey, said. “I believe people will still drive over the speed limit because no matter what the limit is, some people will always push their limits.”

Babl thinks that the general public will definitely be for the new law whether it proves to be a good idea or not.

“In today’s fast pace world, everyone is in a hurry,” Babl said.