Rep. Chris Hagenow referred to a rock legend Sammy Hagar when explaining his rationale for introducing a bill that would increase the speed limit five miles per hour on Iowa’s highways.
“One foot on the brake and one on the gas,” Hagenow said. “Maybe the way to think about it is modernizing the speed limit. Everyone goes over the speed limit by 10 miles an hour if you’re out on the highway. It just makes sense to bring it into alignment with how people actually drive.”
Essentially, highways with 55 miles an hour will bump up to 60. Highways with 65 miles an hour will bump to 70. Interstates will tick up from 70 miles an hour to 75.
When those highways enter local jurisdictions, though, they will retain the ability to establish their own limits.
As for whether he believes raising the speed limit will have a positive, negative or neutral effect on safety, Hagenow said it depends on which study you look at.
“In the past, as these proposals have come up, you can find a study that says almost whatever you want it to say,” he said. “It seems pretty clear to me that there is not a significant impact on traffic safety with another five miles per hour increase, especially when people are already going that fast anyway.
“I’m not unsympathetic to traffic safety concerns, but Iowans being able to get to where they need to go a little bit more quickly is not a trivial issue. That’s real. There’s a lot of folks who spend a lot of time behind the wheel every day across the state of Iowa. If this helps their lives and frees them up to get to where they need to go, if they’re doing it safely, I see no problem in helping those folks.”
The bill did not advance out of the subcommittee last week. There were concerns with how much money would be spent to change speed limit signs.