Speed limit bill zooms through Senate transpo cmte., but roadblocks still ahead

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Many weeks ago, Sen. Jeff Clemens asked via a Context Florida post, “What’s the purpose of speeding tickets on interstates?”

This question foreshadowed his sponsorship of SB 392, with Sen. Jeff Brandes, to raise the maximum allowable speeds on certain state roads and interstates.

The move would bring Florida laws in line with those shared by 16 other states. It would mean fewer tickets on highways, and fewer arbitrarily raised auto insurance premiums to consumers who received tickets but never caused an accident.

It would also mean, to the bill sponsors, no diminishing of safety whatsoever.

On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Transportation bought this argument and voted 6-1 to pass Brandes and Clemens measure.

Clemens, in his Context Florida column, cited the German autobahns as an example of highways which are basically unregulated but on which accident rates are slim relative to those in the U.S.

To Brandes, the issue is one means a move away from arbitrary, meaningless standards.

“I believe that speed limits matched to road conditions and motorist behavior will restore respect for the law and increase compliance, which is a viewpoint shared by 16 other states and consumer safety groups,” Brandes said. “This bill calls for traffic safety engineers rather than politicians to set speed limits.”

The measure has support from the National Motorists Association, citing proper (i.e. higher) speed limits as facilitating greater safety and efficiency in travel.

There are two more committee stops prior to SB 392 making its way to the Senate Floor: Community Affairs, and Appropriations. But these two committees may not prove to be as speedy in approval as was Transportation today, whose committee includes both bill sponsors. As of now, the House has no companion measure.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.