A group that advocates automobile safety is lobbying -in favor- of Iowa raising its interstate speed limit to 70 miles an hour. Triple-A-Iowa spokesman Phil Wedgwood urges Iowans to call their legislators and voice support for the effort to “up” the speed limit five miles an hour. While some claim higher speed limits bring more crashes and more deaths, Wedgwood says studies are finding that’s not the case.Wedgwood says raising the speed limit to 70 will decrease speed differentials between vehicles, bringing more efficiency and safety. Some people may believe supporting a speed limit increase is inconsistent with other traffic safety issues, but Wedgwood disagrees. He says in the past decade, speed limits have increased and there are more cars on the roads traveling more miles — yet national traffic fatality rates have gone down. Wedgwood says there are other factors too.Before the speed limit was raised to 65 in Iowa, an average of 71-percent of the motorists were speeding. Now, the level of people who speed is only 31-percent. He says data suggests the closer the posted speed limit is to the level motorists think is a “reasonable” speed, the more likely they are to abide by it. He says many traffic engineers refer to the “85th percentile” when calculating speed limits.That’s the speed at which 85-percent of motorists drive. In Iowa, that percentile is shown to be 70 miles an hour, regardless of the posted lower limits. Legislation that would raise the speed limit to 70 in Iowa is pending in the Senate Transportation Committee but Wedgwood couldn’t predict when, or if, it will see debate this session. More than half of all states, including four of Iowa’s neighbors (Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska), have interstate speed limits of 70 miles an hour — or higher. Triple-A has 300-thousand members in Iowa.
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