Gov. Quinn Vetos Raise In Tollway Speed Limits

70 MPH signBack at the end up May, the Illinois General Assembly finished passing Senate Bill 2015.

The vote on a bill to increase the speed limit on Illinois Tollways to 70 mph wasn’t even close–in fact the votes were veto proof.

In the Illinois Senate the vote was 48-6. In the House of Representatives it was even more of a blowout with 111 members for and four votes against.

But despite the overwhelming support, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed the bill this past Tuesday.

“Recent evidence shows that drivers already travel at excessive speeds on Illinois toll highways,” said Quinn in a letter explaining his veto. “The THA (Toll Highway Authority) conducted a study of drivers on I-94 in Lake County in 2013 and found that 71% of drivers sampled exceeded the posted speed limit by more than 15 miles per hour. A second, more thorough study conducted by the THA measured speeds on seven different toll highway segments and found that between 91 and 98% of drivers exceeded posted speed limits by rates ranging from 11 to 15 mph during off peak hours.”

This bill, sponsored by State Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), was meant to clarify language in an original bill that was intended to increase the speed limit on expressways across the entire state to 70 mph. While Quinn did sign the original bill, his office interpreted the law to apply only to areas outside the greater Chicagoland area.

At the time, Oberweis accused Quinn of misunderstanding the bill.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway Authority both declined to increase area speed limits despite evidence most drivers were already traveling at speeds far above the 55 mph limit in place.

As the original sponsor, Oberweis got clarifications in the bill to essentially force the Illinois Tollway to increase speed limits to 70 mph or prove there’s a legitimate reason for keeping speed limits at 55 mph.

Speed limit reform activist Steven Doner doesn’t believe Quinn’s veto will stand after the General Assembly reconvenes for a veto session in November after the election.

“The bill passed by veto-proof majorities in both houses – over 90% so Quinn’s veto accomplishes nothing except maybe to ingratiate himself to those in the speeding ticket revenue stream (insurance companies, traffic attorneys, the court system, police agencies, etc),” says Doner. “The bill was intended to clarify legislation passed last year. The original bill already applied to the entire Chicago metro area. Under the new bill (which will now pass in spite of Quinn) puts the onus on the Tollway to prove that a 70 mph speed limit would be unsafe if they want to post a lower limit.”

In other words, wait until November’s veto session.

Doner is excited at the prospect of the bill finally passing this October.

14 Responses to Gov. Quinn Vetos Raise In Tollway Speed Limits

  1. Jeff says:

    Quinn seems not to understand that he has lost control of his own party in the General Assembly. You would think he would have figured this out, after his proposal to extend the 70% state income tax increase went down in flames. Quinn may face a series of embarassing overrides of his veto in November, on the speed limit issue, ride share regulations, and other issues.

  2. Bob says:

    Quinn was never in control of his own party in Madiganistan :)

    But he vetoes it FOR THE CHILDREN!

  3. .Q says:

    I find it amusing that Quinn’s comments regarding the THA study, by stating that “between 91 and 98% of drivers exceeded posted speed limits by rates ranging from 11 to 15 mph”, lends credence to 70 already being the de facto speed limit on the roads with am existing 55 legal limit.

  4. saucexx says:

    I’m not sure what the rational is here. The legislature clearly supports it and polls clearly support it. As Q explains the de facto speed limit is already 70. They clearly don’t even realize what they’re saying when they make a statement like “between 91 and 98% of drivers exceeded posted speed limits by rates ranging from 11 to 15 mph”.

  5. Jeff says:

    The new math under Governor Quinn:

    70 MILES AN HOUR — speed limits shouldn’t go that high, even though most tollway drivers are there already

    70 PERCENT STATE INCOME TAX HIKE — perfectly OK to raise taxes this high, in the middel of a recession, rather than cut waste and fraud out of the state budget

  6. Steve Doner says:

    Thank you Expired Meter for an accurate summary of the history.

    If safety is really the goal, the governor would see to it that speed limits are set in accordance with sound engineering practices at the 85th percentile speed for all traffic (trucks too). Speed limits established to maximize safety would be set at 75 to 80 in rural areas and 70 in most urban areas with a few deep urban zones at 60 to 65 (with truck limits the same or, at most, 5 mph lower). Even two lane highways should be posted at 65 in rural areas (as they were before 1973).

    I fear this may never happen because there is so much revenue at stake. The governor, IDOT, the police and especially the insurance lobby, including AAA, (which earns billions in profits from ticket surcharges on mostly safe drivers) would rather keep dangerously low speed limits than jeopardize their revenue streams. The two largest auto insurance companies in the world are based in Illinois. I fear that no Illinois governor will ever risk going against that powerful lobby. Hopefully our house and senate will display the same courage in the veto-override session that they did when passing the original bill in 2013 and the new bill which clarifies the intent of the original bill – ALL Tollways should be posted at 70 mph.

    Independent studies always reach the same conclusion unless they have been funded by groups like the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Higher Surcharges) or others with a connection to the revenue stream. The science has not changed in 70 years. What changed is we had a failed national experiment with speed prohibition (55 national limit) which accomplished none of its goals and led to widespread disrespect of the law. It has been 40 years now and we are still inching our way back to the limits that were in place decades ago when cars were junk wagons by comparison to today.

    So much debate over something that should be black & white:
    – Engineers say 85 percentile speeds are safest
    – All metro Chicago Tollways, and most IDOT expressways, have 85th percentile speeds of 70 or higher
    – Therefore set the limits at 70 which is the statutory max.

    Steve Doner
    Life Member and Former
    Illinois Chapter Coordinator
    National Motorists Association

  7. Steve Doner says:


    When speed limits are increased or decreased by as much as 15 mph, actual speeds driver rarely change by more than 1 – 2 mph. This has been proven over and over again across the country…and in our own back yard. When the southern leg of I-355 had its limit raised from 55 to 65 a few years back, the 85th percentile speed changed by about 1 mph according to Tollway engineers. Therefore…


    What does happen is that those few well-meaning folks who actually obey the letter of the law begin to travel with the flow of traffic and safety is thus improved for all.

  8. Steve Doner says:

    I think the veto override session is in November after the election. Here is a link to the bill and the voting record. Let’s toss out anyone who voted against the bill (along with Quinn of course).

  9. Greg says:

    Has anyone thought this out here?

    So there is data saying 70 MPH is a safe limit.

    There is data saying it is very common for people to drive 10 – 15 MPH over the limit on Chicago expressways.

    The limit is 55 in most places.

    That means it is very common for people to be driving 70 MPH on Chicago expressways.

    Maybe that knowledge is why the posted limit is being kept at 55.

    Because if the limit is raised to 70, drivers will be driving 85 MPH…

    I know conspiracy theories are much more fun to throw around, but maybe there actually is some common sense going on with this issue.

  10. B says:

    Greg, put 85th percentile method into your favorite search engine.

    After 20 years I am tired of explaining it to people. The idea that people always go X over the speed limit has been a known falsehood for 70 years or more. They only do X over because the speed limit is grossly underposted and they think they won’t get a ticket until X+5.

    The reason the speed limit is 55mph is money. MONEY for the state. Money for the traffic ticket lawyers. We now have a situation on I-294 where 81mph, just keeping up with traffic in some instances, carries jail time. I wonder how many people have gone to jail or lost significant sums because of Oberweis not thinking his bill out properly and making a fool’s trade?

  11. Jeff says:

    Steve Doner:

    Great informative posts here about the reality of speed limits and our highways. Thank you!

  12. Jared says:

    Quinn is an asshole. I hope that he takes a beating on Election Day.

  13. Jeff says:



    - a 70 % state income tax increase in the middle of a recession

    - scandal after scandal involving illegal political hiring, the fraud in the anti-violence project, etc.

    - a state with rock bottom credit rating and crushing debt

    - state budget proposals based on smoke and mirrors

    - approving speed cameras and other anti-motorist laws

    Illinois voters have a lot to complain about Quinn. Hopefully that translates into an election day protest vote,

  14. Jeff says:

    So long Governor Potato-Head.

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