How do you feel about an increase from 55 to 60 miles-per-hour on two-lane roads in Iowa? An even higher speed limit on those roads is possible.

The Des Moines Register reports a three-person subcommittee approved two different bills yesterday that would raise speeds on two-lane, rural roads, in Iowa by five to ten miles-per-hour. That could raise legal speeds to as much as 65 miles-per-hour. The full Transportation Committee is now considering the two.

However, the Iowa Department of Transportation's director of the Office of Traffic and Safety is encouraging caution. Steve Gent says that increases in speed are typically consistent with an increase in fatal accidents.

Gent told the Des Moines Register, "Pretty much every place that has increased their speed limits has seen an increase in fatalities." He says his department estimates five to 15 more fatal crashes each year with an increase of five miles-per-hour and 10 to 25 more crash deaths if the speed limit is increased by ten.

How much would it cost to change all the necessary signage? Approximately $5 million, according to Gent.

This wouldn't be the first time speed limits were over 55 on rural, two-lane highways. In 1959, the Iowa Legislature set the speed limit during the day at 70 mph. It was 65 at night. Speed limits were decreased to 55 miles per hour in 1973, due to an energy crisis caused by a conflict in the middle East.

I'm fine with an increase of five miles per hour, knowing that if the limit is 60, most people will be pushing 65. However, raising it to 65 would almost certainly have many people driving at or near 70 on two-lane highways. That's too fast, in my opinion.

One other thing. I can't help but wonder if the oil companies might be behind this, at least partially. Oil prices and gas prices are LOW. Could some lobbyist money have made its way to the state capital to try to get us to use more gasoline? Sure that might be a stretch but then again, it might not.

What are your thoughts? Should it be 60, 65, or leave it at 55?

[via Des Moines Register and]