Lawmakers, law keepers debate new speed limit bill - FOX 13 News

Lawmakers, law keepers debate new speed limit bill

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Even after 20 years on the road, one thing that Cpl. Tim Craig still can't stand is being by the side of the highway writing a ticket.

"I don't like to be on that driver's side because we've had so many people clipped with mirrors," he said.

The possibility of faster cars flying by him flat-out frightens Craig, who is the head of road patrol in the northwest part of Hillsborough County.

"Speed is a huge percentage of why crashes happen," said Craig.

A new bill in Florida would give DOT the right to increase speed limits by 5 mph.

Even now, deputies can only fine you for going 6 mph over. Craig wonders how fast drivers would go - and how dangerous roads would be - if they had to hit 85 before facing a $100 fine.

"It's a recipe for disaster is how I see it," he said.

The bill is spearheaded by St. Pete state senator Jeff Brandes, a Republican, who says posted speed limits should reflect habit.

"We should adjust speed limits to how people are actually using the roads," Brandes said.

He also tweeted this to me: "Speed limits should be set by traffic engineers based on science and facts, not political whims. SB392 reflects that."

Brandes said law enforcement faces threats from people who break the move-over law, as opposed to people speeding.

He even pointed to this week's death of a trooper who was clipped by a car.

"The person who hit that law enforcement officer, they were already violating the law," he said. "My estimation is that they were just being very inattentive."

But AAA says there's no way to gloss over the danger speed creates. In 2012, a third of all crash fatalities were caused by speed.

In 14 of 16 states, where speed limits are over 70 MPH, the number of speed-related fatalities is above the national average.

"Florida is going to join that group if we allow the bill to become law, if the governor signs it. We are asking Gov. Scott to veto the bill," said Kevin Bakewell, the senior vice president at AAA.

The governor's office issued a statement saying, "our office will review the legislation."

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