From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Six Months Into Speed Limit Increase, Driver Fatalities Down Observers Say

In this Aug. 16, 2013 file photo, vehicles pass a 65 mph speed limit sign along Interstate 64 in O'Fallon, Ill. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into a law a bill allowing motorists to drive 70 mph on rural interstates.

In this Aug. 16, 2013 file photo, vehicles pass a 65 mph speed limit sign along Interstate 64 in O'Fallon, Ill. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into a law a bill allowing motorists to drive 70 mph on rural interstates. (Jeff Roberson/AP

Six months after state law increased interstate highway speeds from 65 to 70 miles per hour, transportation officials say there have been fewer fatalities on the road.  

Opponents of the bill said the increase in speed would lead to an increase in accidents.

Priscilla Tobias, state safety engineer with I-DOT, says while numbers are down, it's hard to discern whether the number is a trend.  As of Monday, Tobias said there's been 341 vehicle fatalities this year.

"As of yesterday we had 74 fewer fatalities than last year.  But, you know, it's still too early for us to get any crash data in as far as with the speed related type of things," Tobias said. "And, again, with the winter the way it was, that has a bearing on things too."

Tobias said  the law that increased the speed limit is still in it's infancy and there's still not enough information to see whether the decline is an anomaly.

The 70 mile-an-hour speed limit brings Illinois in line with its neighbors in Indiana, Iowa,  Michigan and Missouri.

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