JUNE 2 UPDATE: As promised, Scott has vetoed the speed limit bill.
♦ Earlier post below:
Gov. Rick Scott says he will veto a proposed law that could have resulted in higher speeds on Florida highways.
Scott spoke to reporters Tuesday after a Florida Cabinet meeting.
He mentioned that he attended a funeral for Florida Highway Trooper Chelsea Richard, who died on duty May 3 after being struck by a pickup truck on I-75.
Another trooper at the funeral asked him to veto the bill, Scott said.
“I’ve heard from sheriffs around the state and other law enforcement who asked me to veto the bill,” he said. “So I’m going to stand with law enforcement. I want everybody to stay safe.”
The bill (SB 392) passed on the closest margin of the legislative session, passing the House 58-56 after the Senate approved it 27-11.
It was opposed by safety and consumer organizations, including AAA Auto Club Group.
“AAA is extremely pleased with the governor’s decision,” said Kevin Bakewell, the group’s main spokesman. “Speed-related crashes are a major contributing factor in traffic crashes including 30 percent of traffic fatalities.
“Maintaining Florida’s current speed limits will undoubtedly prevent injuries and save lives on our roadways,” he added. “For citizens and our nearly 100 million annual visitors, the governor’s action should send a message that safety in Florida is a top priority.”
The bill did not mandate higher speed limits; rather, any increase on a given stretch of highway would have occurred only if state traffic engineers determined the roadway is safe enough for a higher speed.
Current law allows for 70 mph on interstates, 65 mph for highways with a divided median and 60 mph on certain other roadways, including rural highways.
Under the bill, all of these limits could be raised by 5 mph; the maximum highway speed limit could have risen to 75 mph. Florida last increased the state speed limit to 70 mph in 1996.
“I’m disappointed,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg. “I think ultimately we’ll keep working on ensuring that speed limits are set by experts and engineers, not politicians in Tallahassee.”