Drivers support proposed 75 mph speed limit

Speeds could increase to 75 mph on highways like U.S. 54.

Drivers told KRCG 13 Thursday they had no objections to a proposal to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on some highways.

A bill filed just before the start of the legislative session by Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, would raise the speed limit by 5 mph on rural stretches of four-lane divided highways. Stretches of U.S. Highways 54 and 63 and Interstate 70 within the KRCG 13 viewing area meet that description. The speeds would not be increased around urban areas, like the City of Columbia, where drivers are already limited to 60 mph.

New Bloomfield resident Greg Spurling said he thought it would be a good idea.

"People do 75 already 'cause (the speed limit is) 70," he said.

Jefferson City residents Robyn Bugeson and Heather Hensley agreed.

"I think it would be okay just as long as you got the knowledge to drive the speed limit and not be stupid about it," Burgeson said.

Kelley's bill is the latest in a series of speed limit increases nationwide since the national 55-mph limit was repealed in the 1990s. Some stretches of highway in rural Texas now have limits as high as 85 mph.

Studies do not offer a clear consensus on the effects of raising the speed limit. During the 1990s, as more and more states raised the speed limit from 55 to 65 mph, the Federal Highway Administration analyzed driver behavior before and after the change happened. The study concluded drivers did increase their speeds when limits were raised but not significantly. Further, the study found drivers did not exceed the speed limit by 5 to 10 mph once it was changed.

About a decade later, when Florida increased the speed limit along rural interstates from 65 to 70 mph, the U.S. Department of Transportation found average speeds rose by the same amount. Another study found some states, though not all, saw an increased number of fatal crashes after they raised their speed limits.

Burgeson, Hensley and Spurling all said raising the limit could potentially lead to more accidents, but Burgeson and Hensley said safety comes down to whoever is at the wheel.

"As long as you aren't stupid and you're following the rules of the road, it shouldn't be too bad," Hensley said.

Kelley's bill has been assigned to the House Transportation Committee, but no hearing has been set.