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Higher speed limits in Florida?

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Two unlikely bedfellows are teaming up in a bipartisan effort to raise the speed limit on Florida's highways.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, tells 10 News he'll file legislation Tuesday with State Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, that would increase the maximum speed limit on Florida's interstates from 70 miles per hour (mph) to 75 mph. Brandes and Clemens argued opposing sides of 10 News' red light camera safety investigations earlier this year.

"Seventeen other states already allow speed limits above 70 (mph)," Brandes said, adding that many have shown decreases in accident rates. "It's time that Florida review its laws and we look to see if another five miles per hour will help Florida drivers get (to their destinations) a little quicker."

If the bill is signed into law, no speed limits would change right away. But starting on July 1, 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) could increase the speed limits on certain roadways if it determined a higher limit was "safe and advisable."

READ: Proposed law to increase speed limits
READ: Sen. Clemens pens editorial on speed limits

"What really drives accidents is the (speed) differential," Brandes said. "When you have someone going 70 (mph) and someone going 45 (mph) - that's when you run into major problems."

Brandes believes the speed limit should better reflect the speeds drivers are actually driving, and raising the speed limit by 5 mph won't necessarily mean speeding drivers will start driving 5 mph faster.

The bill proposes new maximums of:

  • 75 mph on interstates and other limited access highways (currently 70 mph)
  • 70 miles per hour on four-lane divided highways outside of urban areas of at least 5,000 people (currently 65 mph)
  • 65 miles per hour on any other road (currently 60 mph)

Brandes said he likes the bill's chances, partially because legislators -- many of whom frequently drive to and from Tallahassee -- have been known to get a few speeding tickets themselves.

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter.


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