Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

75 mph: Full speed to the state of absurdity

Surely there is a secret committee that meets regularly, probably up in Tallahassee, to keep Florida vying for the title of State of Absurdity.

Possible motto: You'll never think up something too ridiculous to happen here!

This week, we had the guy charged with pretending to be a cop so he could get a discount at the Dunkin' Donuts drive-through. Seriously, how much would you risk for a cheaper apple fritter?

On a more sobering note, a panel of lawmakers shot down an effort to repeal the controversial "stand your ground" law, despite criticism from many corners about Florida's shoot-first mentality. One legislator said he wouldn't change "one damn comma" — not that this makes you think anyone had their minds made up or anything.

And speaking of urgent legislative priorities, in the 2014 session you will likely hear of a push to increase the maximum speed limit on our rural interstates from 70 to 75 mph, at least where road engineers think it's safe enough. The speed limit is 70 on highways including Interstates 75 and 10 and Florida's Turnpike, among others.

Now, if you have driven around much in this state, you know many of your fellow motorists consider those numbers to be a suggestion, a mere starting point.

In fact, many Florida drivers consider it felonious for you to go along in the left lane at the actual speed limit — the state-mandated maximum. And they will object in the time-honored tradition of trying to run you down until you move over.

So if the current 70 mph on those roadside signs reads to some as "around 80ish," a speed limit of 75 is sure to kick things up a notch. And it's a no-brainer that speed makes it harder to slow down, stop or avoid trouble on the road.

Speed has been cited as a factor in about a third of all car wreck fatalities — that's nearly 10,000 deaths — in 2011, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

And if you don't buy the safety argument, there's this one: Are we seriously advocating a law that will waste gas in the name of getting there a little bit faster?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website, you can assume each 5 mph you drive above 50 mph costs an extra 25 cents a gallon.

If there's a consolation to those of us who think the speed limit is just fine, thanks, at least this turns out to be a bipartisan bad idea, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Brandes, the St. Petersburg Republican, and Jeff Clemens, a Democrat from Lake Worth.

Here's the more important question, though:

Don't we have bigger fish to fry up there in Tallahassee — the budget, educational standards, tax cuts, that sort of thing?

Does raising the speed limit have a single thing to do with what needs fixing in Florida?

Still, it's sure to be a crowd-pleaser with the pedal-to-the-metal, I-can't-drive-55 set. And notably, it will require the signature of Gov. Rick Scott in order to become the law of the land, or at least the state.

And in an election year, yet!

So there's Florida for you. If this unnecessary, pandering and potentially dangerous change flies in Tallahassee — if it's what passes for getting something done around here — we're probably close to winning that coveted state title yet again.

75 mph: Full speed to the state of absurdity 11/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 7:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man crashes into parked cars, gate at the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque

    Crime

    A Tampa man intentionally drove his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Shaun H. Urwiler, 42, was arrested July 16 for intentionally driving his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November

    Blogs

    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  3. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  4. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system

    Testing

    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. Tampa Bay woman, 11-year-old boy had sex up to 20 times the year their baby was born, detectives say.

    Crime

    TAMPA — A woman sexually battered an 11-year-old Brandon boy, got pregnant and raised the baby for three years before a tip led to her arrest, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

    Marissa Mowry, now 25,  had sex as many as 20 times in 2014 with a boy who was 11 when he impregnated her, Hillsborough County detectives allege. [Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]