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Need for speed? Readers weigh in on the ’70 mph’ proposal

By   /   August 20, 2013  /   News  /   37 Comments

By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON – Lead-footed Wisconsinites are rejoicing over a new proposal to raise the speed limit on some Wisconsin roads from 65 mph to 70 mph.

70 or BUST?: Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, is proposing increasing the speed limit to 70 mph on Wisconsin's freeways and expressways, following in the steps of the Badger State's neighbors.

70 or BUST?: Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, is proposing increasing the speed limit to 70 mph on Wisconsin’s freeways and expressways, following in the steps of the Badger State’s neighbors.

Cautious drivers are not quite as enthused.

And others are worried about the cost.

A brief about Rep. Paul Tittl’s proposal prompted quite a bit of discussion Monday on Wisconsin Reporter’s Facebook page, with opinions across the spectrum.

Among them:

“With 95% doing 70 or more anyways, I say yes to the increase, but that would mean less speeding ticket revenues for the state. Wait, scratch that. You’ll still have those peeps doing 80 or more, so maybe that won’t matter. LOL” – Kevin L. Miller

“I don’t like the million (it’s) gonna cost to change all the signs.” – Joel Odegaard

“Nope! People drive like idiots as it is. Raise the speed limit and there will for sure be more traffic fatalities!” – Julie Kandaras Weir

It’s not often that a Wisconsin Republican wants to follow in Illinois’ footsteps.

But Tittl, R-Manitowoc, is making an exception.

He introduced a bill on Tuesday that would increase the speed limit on the state’s freeways and expressways and interstate highways from 65 mph to 70 mph – with some discretion still given to the state Department of Transportation to designate a lower speed limit in some places where there are particular safety concerns.

The impetus, he said?

“It’s about finding time with your families,” Tittl said. “It’s about allowing the people who are working, allowing them to get home faster, to spend more time with their families.”

Tittl’s proposal comes just one day after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a higher speed limit there into law.

“I don’t think you’ll see a change in fatalities and injuries or anything like that,” Tittl said. “If there was a chance of that, if safety would be compromised on Wisconsin highways, I wouldn’t even be doing this.”

Tittl already has the support of Rep. Keith Ripp, R-Lodi, chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

“I think raising the speed limits in line with other states (is) good for business, good for tourism and also commerce throughout the Midwest, dealing with the same regulations,” said Ripp, owner of a trucking company.

All of Wisconsin’s neighbors have speed limits higher than the Badger State’s.

And all but 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, have a speed limit of 70 mph or higher on at least some of their roads – according to information Tittl provided Tuesday.

He said his bill is common-sense legislation that recognizes that people already drive faster than 65 mph.

One day on the way to the Legislature, Tittl said, he committed to driving 65 mph, “and I was the absolute slowest person on the road. I did not pass anyone, and there was hundreds of people that went past me during that two-hour-and-15-minute drive.”

The Legislature’s next session is scheduled for next month.

Tittl said he’s confident will be signed into law by the end of the year.

Contact Kirsten Adshead at [email protected]



Kirsten formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • susie stevenson

    oh please..spend more time with family??? you kidding.how bout all the people who lost a family member to traffic fatalities??? the roads are ridiculously dangerous already!!!too fast already…i propose they go back to 55 mph.

  • jacklohman

    Yea, the petrol companies love it. More fuel consumed. How much cash passed hands to the politicians?

  • alexmcyd

    The data has been available for 50 years The majority of traffic deaths happen where there is cross traffic, 45mph side roads.. They don’t happen on the interstate because traffic is all moving the same direction. Interstates are the safest miles we drive.

  • cazie

    70 will now be 90+mph..you can guarantee more fatalities with increased speed-common sense should tell you that. I disagree that interstates are safest miles. People are on cell phones, or driving sleepy or half awake. Everyone is in such a hurry that they’re forgetting what is truly important in life.

  • SamIamHis

    One day on the way to the Legislature, Tittl said, he committed to
    driving 65 mph, “and I was the absolute slowest person on the road. I
    did not pass anyone, and there was hundreds of people that went past me
    during that two-hour-and-15-minute drive.”

    This statement comes from one of our legislators. It would appear from the statement that on other days Reresentative Tittl puts himself above the rules of the road and just travels at the speed that achieves his end goal, not the posted speed. Why is our nation falling apart? Because we have voted people into office who do not even know what it means to obey existing law. It might be because of the “emporer” mentality or it could be that they simply don’t know that rules are made to be followed, not ignored and trampled on by crowd mentality. These are the individuals that are writing our current laws. That should scare each one of us.

  • Rando

    The interstates were designed for 75 mph and that was with the cars and trucks back then. Rural interstates and State Highways if used correctly could handle traffic going much faster than that. If people would take driving seriously which means stay out of left lane unless you are passing. Leave the cell phone alone. Trucks, campers trailers etc… again stay in right lane. Pay attention to vehicle condition make sure tires are properly inflated etc… allow enough distance for stopping etc…
    You bunch of liberals think laws are the answer as a conservative I believe in personal responsibility. Liberals also hate this because they are all driving little clown cars that are held together with coexist, recall walker and obma biden bumper stickers.

  • Shaun Munnik

    People drive 70-80 mph when the posted limit is 65mph. If they raise the posted speed limit to 70mps, people are going to drive 75-85mph, which means there will be an increase on traffic accidents. Plain and simple. There is definately going to be some blowback if this happens.

  • Shaun Munnik

    I agree. Let us not forget that most Wisconsinites LOVE drinking. In Wisconsin in 2010, at least 1,732 people died, 3,511 were injured, and 67,345 were arrested as a direct result of alcohol use and misuse.

    Read the full report

  • Goingnowherefst

    I want to know the cost of replacing or modifying all the signs. I guarantee you this is not a good idea for the general driving public and their safety. Most are so distracted driving with all the gadgets and food and drink in the vehicle. This will also increase the speed difference between autos and large trucks. Companies such as Schnieder and JB Hunt do not allow their trucks to go above either 60 or 65 mph due to increased fuel consumption. This could be the trigger behind this, get the public to burn more fuel to increase fuel tax receipts.
    Normally I personally would welcome this, but at $3.50-$4.00/gal or more, I’ve found the most fuel economical speed for each of our vehicles and hold to that. SUV is ~65-67mph, car is ~70-72mph in the 65 mph zones. Frankly, I have found holding to around 68-70mph in the 65 mph zones is a pleasant ride in the right lane with few lane changes needed, and let everyone else have the headaches of aggressive driving (of which I am recovering from!). And honestly, even going 80+ for a hour drive has you arrive only 10 min earlier, and most times not even that much due to surface traffic density and stop lights.

  • Koeppel

    Perhaps we should all walk then…

    Your “guarantee” and “common sense” don’t necessarily agree with the studies that were done when the same claims were made when the speed limit went from 55 to 65.

    “Taken as a whole, these different analyses lead to the conclusion that overall statewide fatality rates fell by 3.4% to 5.1% for the group of states that adopted the 65 mph limit.”


  • Steve

    Thank God some common sense prevails occasionally. I’d rather see 75 but 70 is way better than 65.

  • Koeppel

    Drinking and driving isn’t safe at any speed.

  • Steve Prestegard

    The fact is that nearly all speed limits are set too low — that is, below the prevailing speed. Therefore, I favor higher speed limits, including this one. http://steveprestegard.com/2011/06/09/speed-kills-time/

  • Jeremy

    While I’m glad to see this finally happening, I don’t think ‘because everyone else is doing it already’ is a very good reason. Frankly, if the roads and conditions support the faster speeds, that is good enough for me. I just hope that they raise the minimum speed. While there are reckless speeders out there, most are simply driving at the speed of the rest of traffic. It’s the maroons that are afraid or unable to drive remotely close to the speed limit that cause accidents. If they want or need to drive that slow, get a horse and buggy and join the Amish.

  • Da FrogMeister

    We could always do what Chicago has done, and just leave the speed limit signs up and ignore the fact that everyone is traveling 15 to 20 MPH faster than the posted limit. I-294 speed limits are posted at 55, but if you run at that speed, you either get run over, or get a ticket for impeding traffic. I’ve done a lot of traveling through that area in the past 10 years, and found that it is best to just keep up with the traffic.

  • Bigmike

    Really…some of you make up stuff and call it common sense… After driving millions of miles, (yes, millions) across this country over past 50 years, I can say that there is no reason to believe an extra 5 miles per hour will cause the blood bath some of you people claim. Many states have a top Interstate highway speeds of 70+ miles per hour and have not seen it cause a major increase in accidents. Most can not explain it but have actually experienced a better highway safety record than before the limit was raised, much to the chagrin of all the pessimists. This is not just the opinion of this old retired long haul truck driver who has seen this debate argued in many states, I actually Googled the factual information in a report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, titled, “Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits” If you actually like to read their findings.

  • susie stevenson

    yes the data may be out..but,10 car pile ups on freeways DO produce fatalities, so convince me that FASTER is safer…any data on that?

  • Randy James

    Going to 70 mph will make the “unofficial speed limit” approximately 77 or 78 mph. We currently drive at 72/73 mph with the 65 mph limit and regularly get passed. Going to 70 will drive older/slower reacting drivers back on to two lane highways, thereby increasing the accident risk on those roads since they have substantial amounts of cross traffic on those roads. In addition, there’s no gas savings that I know of the faster you go. This is a boneheaded proposition. Since when do we need to follow Illinois on anything anyway?

  • real driver

    Of course the speed limit should be raised to 70. It should also be raised on state and county roads back to 65 as it was for years when the roads were not nearly as good as they are now.

  • SteveG

    I’m all for the increase BUT, Along with it the laws on distracted driving need to be strictly ENFORCED. Also, penalties for OWI should be ramped up. By doing these in conjunction with the speed increase, MAYBE people will PAY
    ATTENTION to what they are doing behind the wheel. We need more DRIVERS and fewer AIMERS on our roads.

  • Norine Peardon

    Has anyone considered the extra insurance premiums they will pay for higher speed limits? Of course, we should consider how much more money our gas will cost and the repairs to our vehicles. The speed limit was lowered back in history, why raise it again? Someone is interested in making money off this legislation; could it be the state, car manufacturers, the oil industry or the insurance companies? Maybe we all need to slow down a bit for a healthier lifestyle. I say lower the speed limit!

  • seenmuch

    What a complete load of unsubstantiated garbage!

    I too have safely driven over 1 million miles, over 3 million actually in the last 3 1/2 decades. I have driven in 7 countries, all of which had higher posted limits than the US. And in the US for almost 18 years now most of the US has had 70-75 mph posted. During that time the death rate in these states that have allowed higher speed legal travel has dropped to the lowest in the recorded history of driving per miles traveled. These are the facts, not your simple repeating of the insurance lobby garbage.

    The current maximum of 65 is a arbitrary maximum that does not match the real, safe & comfortable maximum across the state. Which is why it is not enforced or obeyed! The current maximum, the political maximum today of 55/65 has no effect of average travel speeds. The average travel speed, the 85th percentile speed across the US today with no regard to the posted limit is 75-80 mph. This is what the limit should be posted at for travel to be the safest, 70+ years of collected DOT data backs this fact up!

    Raise the limit to the speed that matches the safe & comfortable 85th percentile speed without a arbitrary political maximum of 70. Give the DOT the ability to do safety & speed studies then allow them to post the appropriate limit without having to deal with a political maximum which keeps the real limit from being posted!!!! This will make travel safer!!!

  • seenmuch

    I propose you stay off of freeways & interstates, we all will safer & happier!

  • seenmuch

    again a comment that has nothing to do the actual discussion?

  • seenmuch

    the insurance premiums will drop because insurance companies will no longer be allowed to unfairly hit drivers with surcharges for getting ticketed for doing nothing unsafe….

  • seenmuch


  • seenmuch

    that is not what has been documented in states that today allow 65 or more on rural two lane highways.

  • seenmuch

    again a assumption not supported by the real collected DOT data in states that have for most of the last 18 years allowed 70-80 mph. The death rate has dropped more in these states than in the few that have retained stupid NMSL laws. Higher limits on rural roads & highways that can safely handle them pose no safety danger!

  • seenmuch

    A existing law/speed limit that was never anything more than a political folly. Political maximums have nothing to do with what the actual safe maximum is, drivers today know this so they disregard all under posted limits as being irrelevant. You want people to obey the posted limit, have the posted limit reflect what is in reality the actual safe maximum. do this and you will get 80-85 % compliance, a fact backed up by real DOT data collected in states that today allow this!

    I grew up during the failed NMSL, no one obeyed it. All the 55/65 taught drivers was that they should disregard all posted limits. Even the limits relevant to safety lost influence making travel less safe for all. Raising the limits to practical levels has one documented important effect almost immediately, compliance with lower limits that are there for a real safety reason are obeyed once again!

  • susie s

    i agree, mr.tittle states everyone was going above the speed limit, ok, excuse me…these people are” breaking the law ” oh, so we should reward that by raising the speed limit??? sounds completely backward to me…and you will not convince me that faster is safer…if faster is soooo safe… why do all these nascar racers need all this special safety equipment???oh, and anyone who claims we need to raise the speed limit to ” spend more time with family ” needs to do some serious reprioritizing. i would rather go back to the days when a human life was more important than getting somewhere in a hurry.

  • Traffic engineers and enlightened public safety officials who know the research understand the following:

    Properly set speed limits are critical to highway safety.

    People tend to drive at a speed they feel is safe and reasonable, no matter what the posted speed is. Increasing the posted limit will not compel most drivers to compensate and drive that much faster because they don’t feel safe doing so.

    Most posted speed limits have been set artificially low under the mistaken belief that slower means safer and to generate ticket revenue. This creates greater variations in vehicle travel speeds and actually raises the accident risk.

    Raising highway speeds to their safe and appropriate levels based on the speed people naturally drive (meaning the speed that 85% of drivers travel
    at, or below) decreases accident risk, increases efficiency, builds respect for
    all traffic laws, and frees the police to focus on the 15% of drivers who
    actually pose a safety risk.

    Speed limits have been increasing nationally since 1995, and yet the highway fatality rate has been declining steadily. (Source: NHTSA FARS database)

    John Bowman, Communications Director
    National Motorists Association, Waunakee, WI

  • susie s

    strictly enforced…ha !!! oh, like they are now??? our own mr. tittle obviously doesnt even follow the law…so why should anyone else? as long as there are cell phones, drivers texting, this is a disaster waiting to happen. i was a passenger one day and watched the cars whizing past on a crowded freeway and about every few drivers looking down ,obviously texting etc. does that sound SAFE?? at what WILL amount to drivers who will now go 75 or better i highly doubt any of these rules will be enforced.

  • susie

    yup,would love to stay OFF the freeways!!! but unfort. like everyone else i occasionaly have to go on them…any advice for me??

  • susie s

    oh it does have something to do with it…ARE THERE NO DRUNK DRIVERS on freeways??? only now they may be even harder to detect. i was hit in a head on collision by drunk drivers , 7 family members in the car…and they were the FASTEST people on the road that day.

  • ameo

    if mr tittle says raising the speed is “all about spending time with family” then why does his story end with the fact that everyone on the road passed him and was going faster than the POSTED speed of 65mph (which by the way is the LAW )which in my opinion he himself, one of our polititians , implies that he usually doesnt follow ( except this time ) and he feels THAT is why we should raise it?? confuses me . Why doesnt his story end with something about getting home earlier that day and spending quality time with family member?? what a CROCK!!
    In my opinion..any car crash regardless of where it happens is going to have higher risk of injury at higher speeds. now that is common sense !SAFETY FIRST

  • seenmuch

    what are you talking about?? Every so called liberal that your hostility seems to aimed at I know is for the end to political maximums that have not one thing to do with what the actual safe & comfortable speed on given stretch of freeway or highway.

    And for the record you ignorant and hateful person, Richard Milhouse Nixon

  • seenmuch

    What should the limit be posted at, 1 mph or 5 mph??? Or how about this, why don’t you stop driving since higher speeds scare you so much. I think we would all be happier if you just walk and stay off of the highway. In your mind at least you will safer & happier, so will we…….LOL……..

    Freeways are the safest roads in the world. They are purposely & specifically designed to safely & comfortably handle large traffic volumes safely at high speeds of 75-80 mph or higher.

    If safety is the real goal of lawmakers at some point we will realize that there really is no need for a posted limit of these highways. 70+ years of collected DOT data shows that a posted limit high above or lower than the speed that drivers feel safe & comfortable traveling at has zero effect on actual travel speeds. And if limits are posted too low like they are today across much of the US they have in fact a negative effect on safety. At some point I hope that will be realized allowing the law to reflect this fact. A law allowing 70 to be posted would be a start it’s but still about 10 mph too low if safety is the goal.

    So short of digging up or destroying all freeways so no traffic can use them we will have to live with the fact that freeways are designed for high speeds. We have decades of data to back this up from around the world.