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A recent change in state law increased the speed limit to 70 mph on more than 800 miles of interstate highways in Wisconsin. Although speed limits may have increased in some areas, the Wisconsin State Patrol is reminding drivers that there are still many situations when they legally must slow down below the posted limits.
• State law requires drivers to adjust their speed to what is “reasonable and prudent” based on traffic and road conditions. Factors such as severe weather, road construction or heavy traffic require reduced speeds. A violation for driving too fast for conditions costs $213.10.
• The state’s Move Over Law requires drivers to shift lanes if possible or at least slow down when approaching a law enforcement vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, highway maintenance vehicle or utility vehicle on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing. Violations can result in a $263 citation.
• When encountering road construction and maintenance projects, speed limits may be reduced in work zones to protect motorists and workers. Fines for speeding and other traffic violations in work zones are double the usual amounts when workers are present. Posted work zone speed limits are still in force even when workers are not present.
During summer months when traffic fatalities generally spike because of more vehicles on the road traveling at higher speeds, exceeding the posted speed limit is inherently dangerous.
“Driving just 5 mph over the limit puts drivers, their passengers and everyone else on the road at a greater risk of a serious crash. Stopping distances increase and reaction time decreases at higher speeds,” says Wisconsin State Patrol Lieutenant Adrian Logan of the Northwest Region-Eau Claire Post.
Speeding can be expensive as well as dangerous. Under state law, the costs of speeding citations range from $175 to $893 along with three to six demerit points.
Despite the dangers and expense of speeding, too many drivers willingly exceed posted limits. Speeding is by far the most common traffic conviction, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Last year in Wisconsin, there were more than 140,000 speeding convictions. Approximately one out of five traffic convictions last year was for speeding.