New 70 MPH Speed Limit on I-90 Segment in Northwest Suburbs Now Matches Segment from Elgin to Wisconsin


The Illinois Tollway board has approved a new speed limit of 70 MPH for passenger cars for Interstate 90 between Mount Prospect Road and Randall Road in Elgin. The 24-mile segment of tollway between Mount Prospect Road and Randall Road in Elgin was re-assigned a speed limit from 55 mph to 70 mph late Tuesday March 27, 2018. For buses, the speed limit will be 65 mph, and for commercial trucks the new limit will be 60 mph.

Passenger Vehicles 70 MPH
Buses 65 MPH
Commercial Trucks 60 MPH

The speed limit change is also approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the state legislature’s Joint Commission on Administrative Rules.

The increased Speed Limit for the 24-mile long segment of Jane Addams Tollway (Interstate 90) follows a widening and redesign project that was completed in 2017. The new limit for the 24-mile segment now matches that of the remainder of I-90 between Elgin and the Wisconsin border.

A study that reviewed the volume of traffic, traffic congestion, the frequency of access points like interchanges and oases, and the prevailing speed determined it was appropriate to raise speed limits for the 24-mile segment of I-90, according to tollway spokesman Dan Rozek.

Traffic safety experts said the increased speed limit could have both beneficial and dangerous side effects. Drivers have already been frequently observed ignoring the posted 55 mph limits, authorities admitted.

The new speed limit should reduce the difference between speeds on the road between drivers staying in the speed limit and drivers driving illegally, which should make travel less dangerous. However, if a large amount of driver break the new speed limits at even higher speeds, the problem of a high difference of speeds of motorists will continue.

Increased speed tends to decrease the reaction time necessary to take evasive action to avoid a collision. People with slower reactions (longer reaction times) could be at higher risk of causing a crash.

Increased speed in crashes also result in higher forces that can cause more severe traumatic injuries, and some traffic engineers are worried the increase in speed would lead to an increase not only in the number of crashes but also in their severity. Firefighter/paramedics from Elk Grove Township, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates would be most impacted by the change. These fire agencies cover the 24-mile segment of tollway, and are generally assigned to the area. Not only might they see an increased number of severe crashes, they may be exposed to greater risk of injuries from vehicles intruding into the crash safety zone where they are working.

Traffic safety expert Gary Hutter also explained that hydroplaning on wet surfaces becomes a bigger concern for vehicles at higher speeds. Hutter explained that higher speeds mean less reaction time and greater chances of hydroplaning … with all those factors conspiring to expose a motorist to a situation where there’s more likely to be accidents.

“During the gas crisis of the 1980s when the government reduced speed limits, there was a huge side effect of fewer accidents, and the ones there were, they were less severe,” “When the speed limit is 55, people are typically going 65. When it’s 70, they’re going 80, and when they want to pass someone it’s even faster.”

— Gary Hutter, Transportation Safety Expert and Expert Witness at Meridian Engineering & Technology Inc. (Glenview)

The 2018 Illinois Rules of the Road recommends a stop a Three-Second Rule Distance when following another vehicle. A vehicle traveling 55 mph moves 81 feet in one second. A vehicle traveling 70 mph moves 103 feet in one second. Drivers traveling 70 mph should hold back 309 feet behind the vehicle in front of their vehicle.

Stopping Distance Illinois Rules of the RoadSOURCE: Illinois Rules of the Road 2018.

Driving too fast or too slowly can create a dangerous situation. Regardless of the posted speed limit, weather and traffic conditions may make it necessary to drive more slowly. A driver should adjust a vehicle’s speed for the conditions and to match the flow of traffic, as long as it does not surpass the maximum posted speed limit. Doubling a vehicle’s speed quadruples the vehicle’s stopping distance.

Drivers should consider the following when deciding vehicle speed:
• How quickly they can react physically and mentally.
• Type and condition of the roadway.
• The size of the tires — large, wide tires with good tread will stop a vehicle faster than small, narrow tires with little tread.
• The condition of the brakes — newer brakes stop a vehicle more quickly than older, worn brakes.
• The direction of the wind and how fast is it blowing — a strong tail wind can make it very difficult to stop.
• The type of vehicle — vehicle design, weight distribution

See also …
Illinois 2018 Rules of the Road

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