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Virginia Boosts Speed Limit to 70
An overwhelming majority in the Virginia General Assembly votes to increase the maximum speed limit from 65 to 70 MPH.

Governor Bob McDonnell
The Virginia General Assembly voted yesterday to boost the state's maximum speed limit from 65 to 70 MPH. With the encouragement of newly sworn-in Governor Bob McDonnell (R), the measure sailed through the state Senate 29-11 and 71-26 in the House.

"As today's votes in both chambers demonstrate, there is broad bipartisan support for this common-sense idea," McDonnell said in a statement issued Tuesday. "This slight increase in our speed limit will be safe for motorists and help get Virginians to their destinations a little quicker each day. This is an important early step towards our common goal of improving transportation in the Commonwealth."

The move marks an important trend as faster limits slowly move across the east coast. States to the north of Virginia -- Maryland through Maine -- still post 65 MPH limits. The majority of western states have adopted limits of 75 or 80 MPH. Virginia had experimented with allowing 70 MPH travel on a portion of Interstate 85 near the North Carolina border. The new limit applies to multilane, divided freeways in every part of the state, as long as the Virginia Department of Transportation conducts a traffic engineering study certifying that the increased limit would be appropriate for the road. The limit would also apply to buffer-separated High Occupancy Vehicle lanes such as those on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia.

"This is a common-sense reform that will make sure highway traffic moves at a more uniform speed on Virginia's highways," Delegate Bill Carrico, the legislation's House sponsor, said in a statement.

States around the country that have increased their speed limits have seen no downside from a safety perspective. Last year, Utah officials reported that there was no increase in accidents following the increase in the state's top speed limit to 80 MPH. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported last month that the fatality rate nationwide had dropped to the lowest rate since the agency began keeping records.

A copy of House Bill 856 is available in a 20k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File House Bill 856 (Virginia General Assembly, 2/2/2010)

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