Effective Jan. 1, a new law increased the speed limit on some Illinois highways to 70 miles per hour. The previous maximum speed in Illinois was 65 miles per hour. Illinois now joins 36 other states, including neighbors Kentucky and Indiana in allowing drivers to exceed the once-standard 65 mile per hour mark.
Chicago attorney Howard Ankin says he understands the desire to drive faster, especially on the open highways in more rural parts of the state. However, he warns that driving at excessive speeds is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the city.
The new law was strongly opposed by the Department of Transportation, but Governor Pat Quin signed the law over the department’s objections. According to an IDOT map, only 30 percent of the state’s highways will get the higher limit.
Most of the impacted stretches of highway are in rural parts of the state. Highways in Chicago will not be affected. Only a few stretches just outside the city will see a rise in the speed limit. Those areas include a small stretch of Interstate 57 in southern Cook County, Interstate 80 and Interstate 55 in Will County, and a portion of the Interstate 88 toll road in Kane County.
Illinois had more than 274,000 car accidents in 2012. More than 60,000 resulted in injuries and nearly 900 led to a fatality. Speeding was the primary cause of 29.9 percent of the total accidents, 34.1 percent of the injury crashes, and 24.5 percent of the fatal crashes.
Mr. Ankin, of the The Ankin Law Office in Chicago, says that higher speed limits encourage higher levels of speeding. He says drivers often push themselves higher than the posted speed limit. Under the old limit, drivers may have felt comfortable driving 10 mph over the posted 65 mph limit. At 70 mph, those extra 10 mph would put the car at 80 mph.
On this issue, Mr. Ankin agrees with the Department of Transportation in their opposition to the higher speed limits, but he disagrees with vote that will allow the speed limit of commercial trucks to be increased form 55 miles per hour to 60.