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Our View: Putting Illinois in the fast lane

Published: Saturday, May 4, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

State Sen. Jim Oberweis’ proposal to raise the speed limit by 5 mph in Illinois could put the state in the fast lane for a change. Oberweis’ legislation would allow drivers on certain tollways and interstate highways to legally go 70 mph, something they already can do in many other states.

The state Senate has passed the proposed measure, which still must be approved by the Illinois House of Representatives and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn before it could go into effect.

Opponents can point to safety issues and reports showing that driving at higher speeds can lead to more traffic crashes. Such concerns are legitimate. But here are four reasons this legislation could work:

• Oberweis called the move good for business. If it’s helpful for businesses to have truck drivers arrive earlier to their destinations, then it’s a good thing. When Oberweis ran for office, he said he would aim to help businesses, and this is in line with that.

• It would put Illinois more in line with other states. Oberweis pointed out that 34 states already have speed limits of 70 mph or higher, including Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri.

• Many motorists in the state already are driving 70 mph when in Illinois, so this would legalize something done by many. It’s not unreasonable to allow people on certain roads in the state to drive 5 mph faster. Enforcement, regardless of whether the speed limit changes, is key.

• Chicago-area collar counties could opt to have some of their roads excluded from the change. So if there is a concern about a specific stretch of highway, that could be addressed.

It’s encouraging to see Oberweis working to get something done that makes a significant impact on the lives of residents. For the Sugar Grove Republican to be focusing on such endeavors seems more constructive than participating in the in-fighting among the state GOP – for instance, his quest to oust Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady.

For a freshman senator, Oberweis is not shying away from making his presence felt in Springfield.

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