Drivers, Law Enforcement Disagree on Increasing Interstate Speed Limit
A proposal to increase Iowa's interstate speed limit from 70 miles per hour to 75 MPH is getting mixed reaction from drivers and law enforcement.
A proposed bill is unlikely to make it to the House or Senate floor for debate this session, but will likely be a hot topic for years to come in Iowa, especially with speed limits to the west running five to ten miles per hour above the Iowa rate.
"I’m simply not supportive of raising speed limits at this time. There are too many other factors that need to be addressed first such as distracted driving that is a major problem and makes our roads unsafe," Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said in an emailed statement Wednesday. "Raising the speed limit without addressing those will just simply reverse the trend of fatalities in Iowa."
The last time the interstate speed limit was raised in Iowa was in 2005 when it increased from 65 MPH to 70 MPH. From 2001 until 2004 the average number of fatalities on rural interstate was 31.3. That number jumped to 41.5 from 2005 through 2008, according to data from the Department of Transportation. Crashes also increased from 23 to 34.8 during the same time periods.
The DOT said the average speed on Iowa's interstates is around 72 MPH.
"The average speed is 72 point something anyway, so obviously there's people driving faster than 75," said Marlin Hein, a truck driver who drives on I-80 twice a week. "If they passed a law, make it 75 and make it stick, you know? Don't be having all this tolerance to it."
Hein argues traffic will flow better with a higher speed limit as trucks are less likely to drive side-by-side when the speed limit is set at a higher rate.
"I think given how flat and straight these roads are 75 would be acceptable, " said Gabe Richardson who was in the midst of a cross-country drive Wednesday afternoon.
The two states that share a boarder with Iowa to the west both have higher interstate speed limits. In South Dakota the limit is 80 MPH and in Nebraska it is 75 MPH. In Texas drivers are permitted to go 85 MPH on some roads. The slowest interstate speed limit in the nation is Hawaii with a limit of 60 MPH.