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Higher Speed Limit bill passes 1st round in Florida House

A bill that could result in speed limits reaching 75 mph on some Florida roads was steered around opposition from the auto-club AAA on Tuesday as the measure made its first House appearance.

The House Transportation & Highway Safety Subcommittee voted 13-1 to support the measure (HB 761), which would direct the state Department of Transportation to determine the safe minimum and maximum speed limits on all divided highways that have least four lanes.

The bill doesnt raise the posted limits but gives engineers from the state agency more leeway in setting speeds.

In certain areas of the state it will better reflect how drivers are actually using the roads, and therefore make it safer because you wont have the variability between minimum speeds and maximum speeds, said Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes.

However, Lee Moffitt lobbying on behalf of AAA Auto Club South, said the proposal will result in more accidents if Florida joins Maine to become the only state east of the Mississippi River with speed limits higher than 70 mph.

With our current speed limits, Floridas roadways are safer than those states that have increased their speed limits, Moffitt said. You know congestion is a huge problem on Floridas highways and many drivers in this congestion are driving too closely. If you drive faster it increases the time you need to stop and makes the conditions for an accident even greater.

With the limit posted at 75 mph, motorists will push speeds to 80 mph and higher, said Rep. Irv Slosberg.

Rep. Keith Perry said, Vehicles are designed safer now than when the speed limit was increased to 70 mph.

Floridas highways have had a 70 mph maximum since 1996, the last time the speed limit was reviewed

The House bill has only one more scheduled stop the Economic Affairs Committee before reaching the House floor.