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The new Arizona Legislature has started its first session and with that comes the usual flood of legislation. One of the bills, which also was sponsored last year by Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, would give drivers basically a grace range of 10 mph over the speed limit before being cited. In Pinal County, where slow progress is being seen with widening Interstate 10 between Casa Grande and Chandler, the idea is more problematic than it is elsewhere.

Senate Bill 1127 basically would allow driving 75 mph in a 65 mph zone, or in the case of I-10, 85 instead of 75. The only citation that could be given for the lower range would result in a maximum fine of $15 for “waste of a finite resource.” More serious consequences, including a report to insurance companies or points on the person’s driver’s license, would not be allowed. And that quite likely would result in higher insurance premiums for everyone because insurers would not know as much about who the fast drivers were.

Now, on the four-lane part of I-10, traffic often backs up and effectively reduces the speed limit — at least for responsible drivers. Meanwhile, aggressive drivers pass on the right and weave in and out of traffic. Under SB1127, they would have more incentive to do that. The bill also would extend the lower limit of “criminal speeding” up to 96 mph on the rural freeways.

Many of Arizona’s roads are more crowded than they used to be, affected by population growth. Allowing drivers to go faster doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when highway deaths and injuries continue to be a major problem.

Law enforcement officers frequently use discretion and do not cite drivers for going a little over the posted speed limit. They are selective and tend to target those who pose the greatest risk, taking road conditions into consideration.

This bill is not in the overall best interest of Arizona drivers. For those who need to drive to the Valley from Pinal County, it could be deadly.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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