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Can't drive 55? How about 75? AAA calls proposal "dangerous"

7:26 PM, Mar 5, 2014   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- A bill quickly making its way through the Florida Legislature could raise the speed limit along some stretches of Florida highway to 75 miles an hour.

Critics are calling that idea dangerous.

The proposed law would raise the legal limit by five miles an hour on most of Florida's divided highways, and is speeding its way through both the House and Senate in Tallahassee.

In fact, there's apparently so little opposition it could be ready for the Governor's desk by the end of the legislative session in May.

The idea is popular with a majority of drivers like Robert Mora from Tampa.

"Well, you get where you're going quicker, right?" said Mora.

Julie Wolfe from Cape Coral agreed.

"Seventy-five's all right," she said, "then I'll have less hassle from the police, I'll have less stress. I won't think I'm going too fast."

But some drivers are worried.

"If it's 75, they think they can go to 85 or 90 and that's too much," said Martine Ferrero.

The American Automobile Association agrees, and is trying hard to put the brakes on the bill.

"It is a step backwards," said Karen Morgan, a spokesperson for the auto club.

Morgan says the difference between 70 and the proposed 75 miles an hour can be the difference between life and death. She says government statistics show that in a majority of the 16 states where they've already upped the limit, speed-related fatalities are 30 percent above the national average.

"You're going to increase the amount of time it's going to take to stop your vehicle and you're also going to increase that crash force," said Morgan.

The vast majority of states that have raised highway speed limits to 75 are also west of the Mississippi.

Maine is the only eastern state to have done so.

If Florida joins that list, it would be up to FDOT to conduct studies and identify the roadways that could safely accommodate the speed increase.

Transportation workers say those are likely more remote stretches of interstates and along Florida's Turnpike than anything in town.

In the past the federal government has threatened to hold back money from highway road projects in states that increase their speed limits, but these days, the federal government leaves speed limit decisions up to the individual states with no threat of losing federal funds.

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