Pa. Senate leader to seek new limit of 70 mph

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - A leading Pennsylvania state senator said it's time to increase the state's maximum allowable speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said Friday he will introduce legislation soon to allow the higher maximum speeds on interstates.

The Jefferson County Republican said the 70 mph limit will make traffic move better and make the delivery of goods more efficient.

Scarnati said 34 states, including Ohio and West Virginia, allow at least 70 mph, and 16 of those states cap speeds at 75 mph.

His proposal wouldn't mandate the higher speed limit. Speeds wouldn't be increased without justification by Highway Department studies.

Scarnati is seeking cosponsors for the legislation. Pennsylvania adopted the 65 mph limit in 1995.

Scarnati picked up support from Pittsburgh State Rep. Dom Costa.

“I would warn people though once the speed limit is up to 70, you’d better stay close to 70 because the police will lower their tolerance level,” Costa said.

The proposal has drawn mixed reviews from drivers throughout the area.

“I don’t believe so. I don’t think it would create dangerous conditions at all as long as you’re a safe driver, hands free and no drugs. I think everybody could drive fine,” driver Chris Millington said.

According to Carnegie Mellon University’s Raj Rajkumar, who engineered the first ever driverless SUV, raising the speed limit is OK as long as a new law is added with it.

“We out to be considering laws against using cellphones -- texting and talking on the phone while holding it in your hand,” Rajkumar said.

Lou Pesci, the director of the Highway Safety Center at IUP, said, “If you move the speed limit to 70, people will go 75. People are still going to push those limits.”