Should highway speed limits go up?

MARTIN COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - There's a movement being spearheaded by a local lawmaker that would raise the speed limit on the highway by five miles per hour.

Lake Worth State Senator Jeff Clemens has filed a bill that would increase speed limits on divided highways, like I-95 and the Turnpike, from 70 to 75 and on other big roads from 60 to 65.

"Moving trucks and businesses and people a little bit faster from one place to the other and allowing people to drive at what they think the comfortable safe speed is," said Clemens.

His bill would only impact roads in rural areas, meaning Palm Beach County wouldn't likely see faster speeds.

But in Martin County, deputies say, the last thing they need are faster drivers. "To raise the speed limit, I don't see the sense in it, to be quite honest with you," said Sgt. Steve Mochen, the head of the Martin Co. Sheriff's Office's traffic unit.

The head of their road patrol says up to eighty percent of highway crashes there, are caused by excessive speed. "The people are already running 80 and 90 miles an hour," said Mochen. "This is just going to give them the thought to go faster."

Yet, Sen. Clemens points to stats from the National Highway Safety Administration that show traffic deaths dropped from around 42,000 in 1995 - when the federal speed limit was eliminated - to 32,000 in 2011.

"Bad drivers are bad drivers. It doesn't matter if the speed limit is 70 or 75," said Clemens.

If approved, the legislation would take effect next June, however FDOT would get the final say on what roads would see a speed increase.

Roads in Martin, Indian River and St Lucie counties could all be affected.

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