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State News

August 19, 2013

Quinn boosts Ill. interstate speed limit to 70 mph

CHICAGO — — Motorists will be able to drive a little faster on Illinois' rural interstates under legislation signed into law Monday by Gov. Pat Quinn, a move that puts Illinois in line with dozens of states that already have a 70 mph or higher speed limit.

The law, effective in January, is targeted toward roadways in less populated areas and bumps up the speed limit from the current 65 mph. Eight counties with urban areas, including Chicago's Cook County, can opt out.

The Illinois State Police and Quinn's transportation chief opposed the increase, arguing higher speeds would translate into more accidents, but neither pushed their objections Monday. The measure had wide support on both sides of the aisle.

Quinn focused on keeping Illinois in line with regional and national trends. Several of Illinois' neighboring states — Indiana, Iowa and Missouri — already have speed limits at 70 mph or more.

"This limited five miles-per-hour increase will bring Illinois' rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors and the majority of states across America, while preventing an increase in excessive speeding," Quinn said in a statement. "I encourage all motorists to continue to respect our traffic laws, avoid distractions and exercise common sense behind the wheel to protect the safety of themselves and others."

The Chicago Democrat had been mum on his plans and didn't host a bill-signing event as he often does for high-profile issues. His approval even surprised some bill sponsors.

Backers had pushed the measure as a way to improve safety as most drivers already travel over posted speeds.

"What's the most dangerous is the disparity in speed," said Democratic state Rep. Jerry Costello II, a sponsor and former police officer.

He and fellow sponsor Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis said the increase would create a more even traffic flow.

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