Wisconsin lawmaker argues for 70 mph speed limit

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Associated Press | October 2, 2013

MADISON — A Republican lawmaker tried to persuade a legislative committee Tuesday to approve his bill that would raise Wisconsin's speed limit to 70 mph, saying the change would improve traffic flow and allow commuters to spend more time at home.

Rep. Paul Tittl, of Manitowoc, told the Assembly's transportation committee during a public hearing on the measure that Wisconsin drivers are ready for a higher limit, noting that Wisconsin is the only Midwestern state with a 65 mph limit. He said he drove from Manitowoc to Madison at the speed limit and his was the slowest car on the road.

"It was embarrassing," he said. "I had little old ladies passing me."

He said he thinks drivers are ready for a higher speed limit and that faster speeds could improve highway safety. The change would help commuters spend a few more minutes each day at home — time that would add up to hours per year, he later told reporters.

What's more, he told the committee, the higher limit would help tourists decide to travel further into the state and keep them spending money here for a few minutes longer.

Minority Democrats on the committee questioned whether the new limit would lead to worse injuries in crashes. They argued that a higher limit would make merging and crossing freeways more dangerous.

Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton, asked Tittl if he'd be open to amending the bill to include stiffer penalties for distracted driving and not wearing a seatbelt, but Tittl said those changes should come through separate legislation. After the hearing Bernard Schaber said there's a reason why Wisconsin hasn't increased its speed limit like its neighboring states: "Our roads are not the same as every other state's roads," she said.

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