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Illinois increases speed limit to 70 mph on rural highways

Posted August 21, 2013 by Joe Rehana in News
Truckers travel north and south on Interstate 57 Tuesday morning with an increase in speed limits in Illinois on the horizon as Gov. Pat Quinn quietly approved legislation Monday that will increase interstate highway speeds to 70 mph and takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

Truckers travel north and south on Interstate 57 Tuesday morning with an increase in speed limits in Illinois on the horizon as Gov. Pat Quinn quietly approved legislation Monday that will increase interstate highway speeds to 70 mph and takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn approved legislation Monday that will increase the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on interstate highways and is to take effect at the beginning of the new year.

The new law brings Illinois’ speed limit in line with 36 other states, according to a press statement issued by Gov. Quinn’s office Monday.

“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,” Governor Quinn said. “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 bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers with Southern Illinois lawmakers voting in favor of it.

“Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits are now in-line with Kentucky and Missouri,” state senator Gary Forby (D-Benton), a co-sponsor of the measure, said in a press statement released Monday as well.  “Thousands of drivers travel on Southern Illinois’ interstates each day, and the higher speed limit will hopefully help reduce traffic congestion.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 2356, passed the House 85-30 and passed the Senate 41-6 with reports of officials from both the Illinois State Police (ISP) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) having opposed the bill.  Transportation secretary Ann Schneider worried the increased limits would “threaten the state’s progress on highway safety,” she said as a press conference in Springfield April 17, 2013.

Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau said the ISP would continue to enforce the law and remain vigilant in keeping motorists safe on Illinois’ highways.

“The Illinois State Police will continue to enforce the law. This particular law gives counties with higher populations the ability to opt-out and includes safety provisions that lower the limit by five miles-per-hour for excessive speeding, which will provide law enforcement with the right tools to enforce speed limits,” Grau said in an email to the Gazette.  “Our goal is to remain vigilant on the roadways and consistent with our message of public safety awareness. We encourage every motorist to obey all traffic laws.”

While the legislation is set to allow Illinoisans to cruise five-miles faster, it also reduces the rate at which a driver may be charged with excessive speeding.

“Currently, the threshold for penalties is 31 mph over the limit,” Quinn’s press statement indicated.  “The new law lowers that threshold to 26 mph over the limit to increase safety on Illinois roads.”

The new law also allows areas of increased populations to “opt out” of the increased speed limits. Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair and Will Counties may adopt ordinances that, “sets a lower maximum speed limit, empowering counties to make adjustments based on their own local needs.”