April 19, 2005

Woo hoo! Vilsack raises Iowa interstate speed limit

In a victory for everyone that finds themselves traveling I-80 anywhere in Iowa, which has got to be one of the most stupifyingly dull stretches of road in the known universe, and other Iowa highways, governor Tom Vilsack has signed into law a measure raising the speed limit on rural interstate highways from 65 to 70 mph.

The measure also doubles the existing fines and court costs for speeding tickets, but only in areas where the posted limit is in excess of 55 mph. For driving 10 mph over the limit, the fine would go from $43 to $82. The law is expected to bring in about $7 million to fund courts and $600,000 for the state’s general fund. And cops will no longer give wiggle room on speed.
Vilsack said he is directing the Iowa State Patrol to enforce the new limit strictly rather than the current, unofficial practice of allowing drivers to go 5 to 7 mph over the limit before ticketing.

“The posted speed limit is the limit,” he said.
Until now, most motorists traveled around 75 mph, risking a $43 fine, but rarely getting pulled over. Now for driving that fast, they'll be targeted for being pulled over and pay $82.

So in essence, this measure will result in more tickets issued and more revenue, and will actually slow highway traffic from an average of 75 to 70 mph. Not bad from the state's standpoint.

In my opinion a system like the Autobahn in Germany would be the ideal.
Many sections, particularly those with dangerous curves, in urban areas, or with unusually constant heavy traffic, may feature speed limits ranging from 80 to 120 km/h (50-75 mph). In construction zones, the limit may be as low as 60 km/h (37 mph). Also, some sections now feature nighttime and wet-weather speed restrictions, and trucks are always regulated (see table below). Still, much of the Autobahn is unlimited, but there is a recommended limit of 130 km/h (81 mph). This recommendation is generally seen for what it is-- an attempt by the government to cover itself without having to upset millions of Porsche and BMW owners/voters. However, if you exceed the recommended limit and are involved in an accident, you could be responsible for some of the damage costs even if you are not at fault.

The Iowa law is at least a teeny-tiny step in the right direction, even though it effectively makes it more risky to travel 75 mph and not get pinched.


At 4/19/2005 1:26 PM, Blogger Fly-on-the-wall said...

Obviously the Dope hasn't driven I-80 in Nebraska.

At 4/19/2005 2:07 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

ha! Fly, you are correct, I've never had to endure crossing Nebraska, but I've long heard tales from those who have.

From what I've heard for years about the desolate and extremely boring drive across Nebraska, I should probably qualify my remarks and say that I-80 in Iowa is probably the SECOND most deadly dull drive.
I stand corrected.

At 4/19/2005 8:39 PM, Blogger Dissenter said...

I support higher speed limits on four-lane or more roadways wherein it is less likely that drivers will encounter sudden-stop situations. In fact, I support no speed limit governing my own vehicle's speeds. I am confident in my ability to drive at very high rates of speed without risk or difficulty.

But I cannot ignore the most irrefutable, compelling argument against increasing speed limits: my father. That guy has the reaction time of day-old roadkill. If my dad drives through the State of Iowa at 70 mph, all of you who reside in Iowa are DEAD. Imagine, if you will, Mr. Magoo behind the wheel of an old Chrysler New Yorker, his big thick glasses barely raised above the top of the steering wheel as he creeps along in the gear of neutral. Even that, however, is not an image of my father. It is, instead, the image of the guy who goes whizzing by my father.

And so it is that I believe that our legislature must exercise some restraint in increasing speed limits. Not because of me. But because I am not the only one on the road. There is someone out there, just like my dad, cleaning his big thick glasses, clipping off his side view mirror on his garage door frame as he backs out, and preparing to kill us all.

At 4/19/2005 10:28 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

HAHA!!! LMAO! So that's the guy that passes your Dad, huh? Too funny!
That is the fly in the autobahn concept. Bad or incompetent drivers. And lord knows there no shortage of them out there.
As long as we can keep them firmly planted in the right lane, maybe it could work. Either that, or tell them that if they use the highway, they lose their rights to the early-bird discount at the local family restaurant.
That might keep 'em away.
Or have a bus system. Anyone that wants to, and seniors in particular could ride at reduced rates if they needed to go anywhere requiring interstate travel. Saves gas, saves stress, and makes the highway safer for good drivers.

At 4/20/2005 1:26 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Nah folks - it's called a revenue stream. The State plans to write a few more tickets is all....

At 4/20/2005 7:25 PM, Blogger Sfnygren said...

I've driven both stretches of Interstate 10. I can say neither can match the mind-numbing boredom of Interstate 10 from El Paso to San Antonio. Autobahn speeds there could be dangerous. If you wreck, you could go off the road and not be noticed for days. At least in Iowa-Nebraska a cow will find you. (They call it 'High Plains.' Most of those from somewhere green call in desert.)

At 4/20/2005 9:37 PM, Blogger Fly-on-the-wall said...

OK, I-10 sounds just plain scary.


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