Editor’s note: This is the first story in a two-part series on new laws set to be enacted in 2014.
MT. VERNON — A measure to increase the state speed limit to 70 miles per hour is one of the more than 200 new state laws set to take effect Jan. 1.
Illinois State Police Sgt. Matt Boerwinkle said it’s too early to tell how the new speed limit will impact traffic enforcement. Still, public safety remains the “number one concern” for state police, he said.
“The Illinois State Police will continue to enforce the speed limits in the same manner we have in the past,” said
Boerwinkle, a public information officer.
Senate Bill 2356 raises the existing speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on most interstates and toll highways.
Eight counties with congested highways can opt out of the new speed limit by approving an ordinance. These counties include Cook, the collar counties around Chicago, Madison and St. Clair.
According to an Illinois Senate Republicans document outlining the new laws, the speed limit change brings Illinois in line with most of the rest of the U.S.
Currently, there are 34 states with speed limits of 70 mph or higher, 15 states with limits of 75 mph and one state with a limit of 85 mph, the document states.
State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the former speed limit law was a “bad law” because it was “widely ignored” by motorists.
One of the goals of the new legislation is to have all motorists traveling at a similar rate of speed, without much variation, Oberweis said. This results in safer roadways, he said.
“It’s not speed that causes traffic accidents. It’s variation in speeds,” Oberweis said.
Even so, State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said he voted against the measure because it could present a danger to motorists by permitting trucks to travel at a higher rate of speed.