State Representative Mike Kelley has proposed a bill that would increase the speed limit on Missouri highways such as I-70, I-44, and I-49.
House Bill 295 would raise the maximum speed on rural interstates and freeways from 7o to 75 miles per hour. Kelley thinks this is the “right move for Missouri.”
“More than a dozen states around the country have currently raised speed limits on parts of their interstates to 75 mph or higher,” said Kelley.
MODOT spokesman Mike Curtit says the Department is not in favor of an increased speed.
“MODOT would be opposed to any legislation that has the potential to increase the traffic incident rate as well as the severity of traffic crashes.”
Curtit says when the maximum speed limit in Missouri was raised from 65 to 70 miles per hour in 1996, fatalities increased by 45 percent over the following three years.
Kelley says there is plenty of data that would support or counter his position, but says he isn’t worried that higher speed limits would be a safety concern.
“I don’t believe that speed has as much to do with fatalities as distracted driving,” said Kelley. “I actually think an increased speed will create more alert driving and will actually have a reduction in fatalities.”
Kelley stresses, the bill does not force MODOT to change the speeds. “If there are sections of the road that they do not feel are safe or disagree in the increased speed limit, they still have absolute control and can reduce the speeds.”