Wisconsin drivers hopeful for boosted freeway speed limits

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- You might soon get from point A to point B a little quicker in Wisconsin.  The state Assembly is working on a bill to boost freeway speed limits up to 70 miles-per-hour.  Most drivers we spoke to think it's about time.

"It could be a little faster," one motorist told us.

"Just up the speed limits, please," another said.

That seems to be the general take on state representative Paul Tittl's (R - Manitowoc) proposal.  Tittl hopes to introduce the bill soon.

"Representative Tittl's idea is one that sure makes sense to me," Assembly speaker Robin Vos said.

Vos thinks Wisconsin is lagging behind its neighbors.  Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa all have 70 mile-per-hour limits and Illinois is a governor's signature away from joining them.

"I would have prefered it was a leader and that we did it as one of the first states," Vos said.  "But it now makes sense, now we've seen all the other ones can do it, that Wisconsin can join that group."

Just about every freeway driver we talked to agreed.

"People seem to drive 70 to 75 and it seems to be safer and everyone's driving the same speed," driver Rick Cotner said as he filled up along Ryan Road Sunday.  "It makes a lot of sense to me."

"Seventy is a good coasting, smooth number," trucker Devin Fehrman said.

Fehrman lives in Waukesha but drives his semi around the region.  He thinks faster limits would help everyone.

"I find it more dangerous to drive slow when everyone around you is going over the posted limit," Fehrman said.  "You have people cutting us in and off. It's just a lot worse for us."

A few drivers see dangers mixed in with benefits though.

"It would mix a lot of slow drivers with fast drivers and that could potentially cause some more accidents," Kyle Martins said.  Still, Martins thinks increasing the speed limit would help him get more work done on the clock.  "Time is money," Martins said.

Other drivers from states where limits are already 70 think Wisconsin drivers would adjust easily.

"You know, [as long as people are] in the right lane, drive the right speed," Pennsylvania driver Melodie Barillaro said along I-94 Sunday.  "Yeah, I don't think it's a problem."

"Once drivers are accustomed to it and that's the flow of traffic, it works out great," Florida native Shawn Perry said.  "I think it's pretty safe."

Making sure the roads stay safe will be the state's top priority with this legislation.  Representative Vos says they're working closely with the DOT to conduct federal highway safety studies before this bill moves forward.

Vos hopes to get it to an assembly vote sometime this fall.

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