N.H. governor signs speed limit increase, joins other states in increasing interstate speed limits

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July 12, 2013

New Hampshire

By Phil Sletten

CONCORD, New Hampshire: Governor Maggie Hassan (D) signed HB146, which increases the speed limit on Interstate 93 from 65 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour in the northern part of the state. The new law will not increase the minimum speed limit or the speed limit through the narrowest parts of the highway in New Hampshire's White Mountains.[1]

Hassan signs the bill after consulting with the Department of Safety, which publicly opposed the speed limit increase.[2] The bill easily passed the Democratic-controlled House, 292 to 65, and passed with a voice vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.[3][4] In a March 2013 interview with The Eagle-Tribune, Hassan stated that she was opposed to raising the speed limit.[5] However, Hassan signed the bill on July 2, 2013, citing the "limited nature of the 5 mph speed-limit increase in a targeted region of the state, along with the overwhelming, bipartisan support for the measure."[6][7]

Two of the bill's primary proponents were Representative Steve Vaillancourt (R) and Senator Jeff Woodburn (D). Woodburn represents the northernmost portion of the state, which is also the most rural, and wrote an op-ed to The Concord Monitor in support of the legislation.[8] Vaillancourt has repeatedly tried to raise interstate speed limits across the state, including a failed attempt in 2012 that was opposed by The Concord Monitor editorial board and defeated in the House.[9][10] This legislation, however, did not attract the same level of opposition and was considered a relatively minor change by most legislators.[11] Some legislators did voice opposition, including Representatives Kenneth Grossman (D) and Christy Bartlett (D), who cited fuel consumption and safety concerns.[12]

With this new law, New Hampshire joins many other states that have either considered or passed speed limit increases during this year's legislative sessions. Since early 2005, nine states have increased their maximum speed limits.[13][14] Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which is skeptical of speed limit increases, called the state-by-state efforts to increase their speed limits an "arms race."[15] Texas raised the top speed limit to 85 miles per hour last year, and some legislators in Nevada sought to match that speed limit this session, though their efforts were unsuccessful.[16][17] Utah made its 80 miles per hour speed limit permanent in 2012, after a trial period.[18] Ohio expanded its 70 miles per hour speed limit from just the Ohio Turnpike to all rural sections of the interstate system.[19] The Illinois State Legislature voted to increase the rural speed limit from 65 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour, and the bill awaits Governor Pat Quinn's (D) decision.[20] The North Carolina House of Representatives stopped a bill to increase the speed limits there to 75 miles per hour after it passed the North Carolina State Senate 45 to 1, and the Maine State Legislature passed a bill expanding the 75 mile per hour zones in that state.[21][22]

Research on the changes to driver safety, and how much actual speeds change, resulting from speed limit increases is mixed. In Utah, boosting the speed limit from 75 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour resulted in the average vehicle speed to increase from 83 miles per hour to 85 miles per hour, and crashes actually declined in the Utah Department of Transportation test zones.[18] Indiana's 2005 decision to boost speed limits from 65 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour did not increase the likelihood of severe injuries or death, according to a Purdue University study.[21] However, a study in the American Journal of Public Health of the long-term effects of the removal of the federal speed limit repeal in 1995 found that between 8,700 and 16,400 deaths between 1995 and 2005 could be attributed to the increased speed limits, with the highest increases in rural interstates.[23] A 2004 study from Portland State University and the Oregon Health and Science University projected that boosting the speed limits from 65 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour would likely lead to a 4 mile-per-hour increase in average vehicle speed, which partially led the Oregon Speed Zone Review Panel to recommend against raising the speed limit.[24][25] A 2005 review of relevant literature to that time presented to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that "overwhelming majority of evidence suggests that reductions in speed limits reduce vehicle speeds and crashes."[26] A working paper from a professor at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that increasing the speed limit 10 miles per hour increased accidents between nine and 15 percent, with an increase in fatal accidents as well, and a 2011 Policy Studies Journal article also found that lower speed limits save a significant number of lives.[27][28]

Fuel economy decreases with higher speeds for nearly all vehicles at typical highway speeds. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drivers can assume that "that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.25 per gallon for gas," with the price of gasoline at $3.61 per gallon.[29]

The speed limit change signed by Governor Hassan will go into effect January 1, 2014.[7]

See also

External links


  1. The Concord Monitor, "Hassan signs bill raising I-93 speed limit north of Concord to 70 mph," July 3, 2013
  2. The Concord Monitor, "Hassan mum on whether she’ll sign bill raising I-93 speed limit," May 2, 2013
  3. The Concord Monitor, "Senate backs higher speed limit on I-93, sending bill to governor," April 19, 2013
  4. NHPR, "70 M.P.H. Speed Limit Bill Passes N.H. House," March 13, 2013
  5. The Eagle-Tribune, "Gov. Hassan ready to OK higher speed limit," April 26, 2013
  6. The Concord Monitor, "Hassan signs bill raising I-93 speed limit north of Concord to 70 mph," July 3, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Nashua Telegraph, "Hassan signs speed limit bill for 70 mph on I-93 north of Concord," July 3, 2013
  8. The Concord Monitor, "State House Memo: Increase rural speed limit to 70 mph," April 24, 2013
  9. The Concord Monitor, "Higher speed limit will mean lost lives," January 9, 2012
  10. The Nashua Telegraph, "House puts the brakes on 70 miles per hour speed limit on highways," accessed March 16, 2012
  11. NHPR, "New Hampshire News Roundup," March 15, 2013
  12. The Concord Monitor, "House raises I-93 speed limit, rejects 24-hour waiting period for abortions," March 13, 2013
  13. IIHS, "Maximum posted speed limits," July 2013
  14. U.S. Department of Energy, "Fact #410: February 6, 2006 - Maximum Speed Limits by State, 2005," accessed July 12, 2013
  15. USA Today, "Texas raises speed limit to 85 mph: Other states could, too," September 8, 2012
  16. The Los Angeles Times, "Nevada, perhaps to match Texas, eyes 85 mph speed limit," February 26, 2013
  17. The Associated Press, "85 mph speed limit bill dies in Nevada Assembly," May 28, 2013
  18. 18.0 18.1 The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah’s 80 mph zones to be permanent, more test zones may come," September 19, 2012
  19. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Speed limits outside Cleveland will hit 70 mph on July 1," May 21, 2013
  20. The Chicago Tribune, "Truckload of concerns after lawmakers OK higher speed limit," May 22, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 Governing, "4 State Legislatures Voted to Increase Speed Limits This Year," June 7, 2013
  22. newsobserver.com, "NC House slows 75 mph speed limit bill," June 20, 2013
  23. U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Long-Term Effects of Repealing the National Maximum Speed Limit in the United States," September 2009
  24. Oregon Speed Zone Review Panel, "Recommendation for Setting Speed Limits on Interstate Highways In Oregon," September 17, 2004
  25. Portland State University, "Impacts and Issues Related to Proposed Changes in Oregon," September 7, 2004
  26. [http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CCwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nhtsa.gov%2Fpeople%2Finjury%2Fenforce%2Fspeed_forum_presentations%2Fferguson.pdf&ei=YrngUbiPLYrXygGHpYCICA&usg=AFQjCNHpOM5oSlenu9He-Ylm2hetdEpFUg&bvm=bv.48705608,d.aWc Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "Relation of Speed and Speed Limits to Crashes," June 15, 2005]
  27. RegBlog, "Do Lower Speed Limits Cost Society Less?," June 27, 2013
  28. Policy Studies Journal, "Deterrence Theory and the Implementation of Speed Limits in the American States," May 2, 2011
  29. FuelEconomy.gov, "Observe the Speed Limit," accessed July 12, 2013