Increasing the speed limit on certain highways? Some say not so fast

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 5:41 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The legal speed limit on Interstate 81 could go from 65 to 70 miles an hour. State lawmakers will consider a bill increasing the speed limit on certain highways.

One local state assemblyman has questions about it.

“Mostly be centered around safety information. Make sure that if there’s any safety studies out there that have a position on it one way or the other,” said Assemblyman Scott Gray (R. - 116th District).

One such study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that over a 25-year period state speed limit increases were tied to 37,000 deaths across the country.

Right now New York is one of only 8 states that doesn’t have a maximum 70 mile per hour, or higher, speed limit.

“States are urged to use the engineering and the traffic surveys when setting maximum speed limits,” said Valerie Puma, communication specialist, AAA of Western & Central New York.

Puma says that increasing the speed limit may lead to an increase in how fast cars are actually driving on the highways, even if it’s still above the new legal limit.

“Even if it is just by 5 miles per hour, it’s still a difference,” she said.

“If it’s 65 now, and they’re driving 75, will 70 make it 80 or 90? And that’s the real concern,” said Gray.

When asked for a comment on the proposed changes, a representative for the New York State Police says it’s their policy to not comment on pending legislation.