Wisconsin Lawmakers Seek Highway Speed Increase

Speed Limit Could Go From 65 to 70 MPH

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If Republican lawmakers have it their way, Wisconsin highways might be getting five miles an hour faster.

Wisconsin is one of only 12 states that still has a state highway speed limit of 65.

This legislative session assembly Republicans are working to change that.

Local police aren’t so sure about the faster highways because speed is a factor in 25 percent of fatal crashes in Wisconsin.

“An increased speed limit is going to allow people to drive faster so not only will they be driving the faster speed limit, but they’ll drive beyond that,” explained Superior Police Deputy Chief Matt Markon.

Lawmakers say they’re trying to balance safety with efficiency on Wisconsin roads.

Highway 2/53 is a road thousands of travelers venture out on every single day, and right now the signs read 65.

“We’ve been 65 for years, but on the freeway it should be fine to go 70,” said frequent highway traveler, Marty Boulanger.

A handful of drivers in Wisconsin think speeding up could be a good thing.

“I think everybody could use going a little bit faster,” said Boulanger. “Not necessarily careless, but having the option to go a little bit faster.”

It would be five miles an hour faster.

“I’ll want to look at the bill and make sure that there’s good safety precautions in there,” said Wisconsin State Rep., Nick Milroy.

Last year, a bill setting highway speed limits to 70 was introduced and failed when it reached the Senate.

This year, supporting lawmakers, including Milroy, are trying again.

“It’s really an issue of trying to be more efficient on our state highways, but we also have to be real careful to make sure that there’s the proper safety requirements in place,” Milroy said.

“Slower is safer, and that’s proven,” said Deputy Chief Markon.

Only a few roads in Douglas County will be affected and a jump in speed could mean a jump in fatal accidents.

“An increased speed will also mean a decreased amount of time someone has to react to a problem,” said Deputy Chief Markon. “That will lean toward more injuries and possibly more fatalities.”

As for the guys who know the local highway best, 70 miles an hour would be good, but they’re not convinced it would make a huge difference behind the wheel.

“Five miles, 10 miles – I think it comes down to the responsibility of the driver using good judgment and common sense when you’re driving,” said Boulanger.

Full details of the bill including what roads will be affected will be unveiled by Rep. Paul Tittl Wednesday in Madison.

Assembly Republicans hope to get the bill passed sometime this legislative session, but they’re not sure when it’ll happen.

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