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Speed limit may go up

Three local lawmakers for it; one against

SPRINGFIELD – Can't drive 55? Or 65?

Well, you might get the chance to drive even faster – legally.

The Illinois Senate voted 41-6 on Tuesday to increase the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on interstate highways and toll roads.

That's already the limit for states surrounding Illinois, with the exception of Wisconsin.

The Sauk Valley's two senators, Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, and Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, voted with the majority.

Jacobs said he is open to increasing the limit to 75 mph, but that's not realistic now. He dismissed arguments that fatalities would rise with a 70-mph limit.

"It would be best if the speed limit was zero. There would be no risk," said Jacobs, who represents Whiteside County. "But when you are in a car, there is risk. As we move into the future, we may go higher than 70."

Bivins said he favored the increase because it was consistent with many other states. When the others increased their limits, he said, that didn't appear to lead to greater fatalities.

As for an eventual 75-mph limit, Bivins said he would have to look at it more closely.

"It does come to a point where it gets to be too fast," he said.

The Senate bill now goes to the House.

Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, who represents Whiteside County, opposes an increase.

"Statistics show that an increase in the speed limit causes more vehicular accidents," the lawmaker said. "When the limit is 65, people go 70. At 70, people go 75 or 80. The death toll goes up. We don't need to look at raising the speed limit. We have more important issues."

Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, said he backs an increase.

"I think safe driving is the most important thing, regardless of speed," he said in a statement. "We have many miles of open, well-maintained interstates where a 70-mph limit wouldn't increase risk too much."

Under the measure, Cook County, suburban collar counties and the two counties near St. Louis could opt out where local officials did not think the higher speeds would be appropriate.

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