Speedier highways: Governor promises 70mph stretches by year's end

news-70mphinterstates2McDonnell made speed part of his run for governor. (The red stretches will remain 55-65mph.)

Governor Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday that a majority of Virginia's stretches of Interstate highways will be posted at 70mph speed limits by year's end. The October 20 announcement follows passage of enabling legislation, which McDonnell signed into law in March, as well as safety studies using crash records and land-use data.

Perhaps that explains why most of I-64 through Albemarle County will remain at 65mph.

Already, 89 of Virginia's 1,119 miles of Interstate (38 miles of I-85; 24 miles of I-85, and 27 miles of I-295) bear the higher limits. The move will raise the proportion of Virginia's Interstates posted at 70mph to 61 percent. [pdf]

McDonnell hails the move for safety and efficiency, but the enabling legislation, SB 537, was decided on a mostly party-line vote. Of the Charlottesville-area legislators, Democratic Senator Creigh Deeds joined fellow Democratic Delegate David Toscano in voting against it; Republican Rob Bell voted for it.


After reading the article and the posts here, I have come to the conclusion I will "drive it like I stole it" in the new areas that will allow me 75mph...:)

I quote the latest link Oscar posted... "time is money and it can sometimes be worth spending more to get somewhere faster."

While I don't own any of the cracker boxes in the link, one of my vehicles is a Ford Explorer (same thing as a Mercury Mountaineer). If I am going to Waynesboro or Staunton tonight to shop, I'll take the 17.8 mpg at 75 mph rather than the 23.8 mpg at 55 mph. Driving 55 mph on Interstate 64 is extremely difficult. I would even say it's downright unsafe. :)


You're free to drive at 55 if you want to. Just please stay out of the left lane.

Agreed! Slower drivers move right, please!


Thanks for providing an updated study with information on 2010 model year vehicles. Every vehicle returns less miles per gallon at 75 mph than it does at 65 mph. And for that matter, every vehicle tested also gets better mileage at 55 than either 65 or 75. It would appear that the majority of current cars, if not all, are significantly less efficient at 70 mph.

I wouldn't place much faith in old mileage comparisons done on vehicles older than 2007 to 2011 models. Nowadays there's 4 speed automatics with overdrive, 5 speed transmissions and 6 speed transmissions that would put an older 3 speed transmission to shame.

One of the links posted above is useless, it compares some cars as old as 1988.

I will admit I was basing my statement on what we citizens were told back in the 70's during the gas "crisis". The speed limit went to 55 on the interstate back then if memory serves me correctly. I realize fuel efficiency has improved since then. So now I am off to read the Wikipedia articles.

OK, can someone explain to me why the trends in that graph tend to be bi-modal (i.e. there are often two peaks in fuel efficiency at around 25-30 mph and 55 mph)? Something to do with different gears?

LOL at the poster saying radar detectors should be allowed. Don't radar detectors only exist so people can speed and then slow down when a patrolman is around? Think about that a minute.

And how does my car get better gas mileage at 75 than 70? My RPMs are higher as my speed increases. If the engine's spinning faster wouldn't that increase fuel consumption?

I found this:


I feel vindicated since the fuel economy difference between 55 and 75 is pretty impressive (unless I was in a hurry and read the results wrong :-) ).

I agree with you that there is no gas shortage. What I was referring to was the need to become less dependent (for our energy needs) on countries who have large populations that want to destroy us.

If it turns out that I am right about the extra fuel burned at those higher speeds then the dam* politicians are not working in our best interest. But why should that surprise me.

Now it may be true that the big rigs get better mileage at higher speeds.

Re: Better mileage at higher speeds. Quick wikipedia search turns up a Federal Highway Administration study looking at 1988-1997 vehicles showing that mpg starts for the sample set of vehicles peaks around 55 or before and is in pretty strong decline in the 65-70 range.

Graph here:

Can anyone cite a more recent study that would demonstrate this trend has changed since then?

On another note, one item that wasn't covered in this article, but the Washington Post mentions that Virginia law defines anything over 80 mph as reckless driving. The 10-over rule of thumb puts us in dangerous enforcement territory.


Repeal the ban! We have a right to receive radio waves.

Cars get better gas mileage up to 75mph....it's not wasting gas, its saving it.

Oscar, I think it depends on what engine you might have. I have a 10 cylinder in one of my SUVs that gets much better gas mileage while doing 70 to 75 mph as opposed to going 60 and 65 mph.

And, by the way, now that gas prices hover between $2.50 to $3.00 a gallon, there is no shortage of gasoline. Those profiting from the oil industry don't want you to conserve a single drop. And when gasoline jumps to $4.00 a gallon, we will have large tankers sitting in line offshore just waiting to be unloaded.

I love reading radar detector debates. Radar detectors are next to useless with today's radar. The cop doesn't even activate the radar beam until you're already in his/her view. By then it's too late for a radar detector to warn you! :)

I guess this is why the other 49 states don't see the need to outlaw them.

The Virginia State Police used to use radar detector detectors. This was where they were making their money, detecting a radar detector illegally in use. I assume they still have radar detector detectors in use, I'm not sure though.

Kevin, I like your plan, but lets make sure the law requires those convicted drunk drivers to be armed too if we want the highways to be really safe.

So out of one side of the mouth our leaders tells us they want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and on the other side of their mouth they tell us it is okay to go faster and waste more fuel. Gotta wonder....

Hey loogey,
Since, "Radar detector users are less likely to drive intoxicated.. " maybe judges should require convicted drunk drivers to have radar detectors installed! After all, "studies have shown..."

@Downing Smith re: The use of radar detectors. Sir, indipendant studies have shown, drivers who use radar detectors are more astute and safer drivers. Radar detector users are less likely to drive intoxicated too. Did you know that?
The reason for the ban is purely for revenue. The commonwealth wants your money. Not you.

Welcome to the "Commonwealth".....

Downing, why do other states not have a ban on radar detectors?

People should be arming themselves anyway.

And it has nothing to do with traffic laws or speeding.

The only reason to have a radar detector is to break the law. It is interesting that these folks object because they want to speed. Why don't we get rid of speed limits, state troopers, and all traffic laws. Then we can arm ourselves and play Road Warrior.

The interstates and cars were made to go at an average of up to 75 mph (most effective speeds for fuel efficiency) It wasn't until the Carter administration that the speeds were reduced all the way down to 55, and were then slowly raised to where they are today. I'm glad the speeds are being raised, traffic is bad enough as it is so hopefully people can pick it up a notch. There will definitely be a much higher number of tickets in the red areas though! Ugh. No need to hate on the Republicans for this idea, it's a good one. And the cost of signs question is pretty stupid...it's about as relevant as me saying that this will create new jobs.

It's all a conspiracy to issues more speeding tickets & generate more income for localities. How can driving faster be safer???

I'm with Gasbag...they'll do 75 now...

Hooray for faster highway speeds, and agreed on ditching the radar ban which only makes us look nutty when no else has it.

As you may know, Virginia is the only state that bans the use and sale of radar detectors. There is no evidence that the radar detector ban increases highway safety. Our nation’s fatality rates have fallen consistently for almost two decades. Virginia’s fatality rate has also fallen, but not any more dramatically than it has nationwide. Research has even shown that radar detector owners have a lower accident rate than motorists who do not own a detector.

Maintaining the ban is not in the best interest of Virginians or visitors to the state. I know and know of people that will not drive in Virginia due to this ban. Unjust enforcement practices are not unheard of, and radar detectors can keep safe motorists from being exploited by abusive speed traps. Likewise, the ban has a negative impact on Virginia’s business community. Electronic distributors lose business to neighboring states and Virginia misses out on valuable sales tax revenue.

Radar detector bans do not work. Research and experience show that radar detector bans do not result in lower accident rates, improved speed-limit compliance or reduce auto insurance expenditures.
• The Virginia radar detector ban is difficult and expensive to enforce. The Virginia ban diverts precious law enforcement resources from more important duties and this ban may be ILLEGAL.
• Radar detectors are legal in the rest of the nation, in all 49 other states. In fact, the first state to test a radar detector ban, Connecticut, repealed the law ââ?¬â?? it ruled the law was ineffective and unfair. It is time for our Virginia to join the rest of the nation.
• It has never been shown that radar detectors cause accidents or even encourage motorists to drive faster than they would otherwise. The Yankelovich ââ?¬â?? Clancy ââ?¬â?? Shulman Radar Detector Study conducted in 1987, showed that radar detector users drove an average of 34% further between accidents (233,933 miles versus 174,554 miles) than non radar detector users. The study also showed that they have much higher seat belt use compliance. If drivers with radar detectors have fewer accidents, it follows that they have reduced insurance costs ââ?¬â?? it is counterproductive to ban radar detectors.
• In a similar study performed in Great Britain by MORI in 2001 the summary reports that "Users (of radar detectors) appear to travel 50% further between accidents than non-users. In this survey the users interviewed traveling on average 217,353 miles between accidents compared to 143,401 miles between accidents of those non-users randomly drawn from the general public." The MORI study also reported "Three quarters agree, perhaps unsurprisingly, that since purchasing a radar detector they have become more conscious about keeping to the speed limit..." and "Three in five detector users claim to have become a safer driver since purchasing a detector."
• Modern radar detectors play a significant role in preventing accidents and laying the technology foundation for the Safety Warning System® (SWS). Radar detectors with SWS alert motorists to oncoming emergency vehicles, potential road hazards, and unusual traffic conditions. There are more than 10 million radar detectors with SWS in use nationwide. The federal government has earmarked $2.1 million for further study of the SWS over a three-year period of time. The U.S. Department of Transportation is administering grants to state and local governments to purchase the SWS system and study its effectiveness (for example, in the form of SWS transmitters for school buses and emergency vehicles). The drivers of Virginia deserve the right to the important safety benefits that SWS delivers.

Please sign this petition and help to repeal this ban and give drivers in Virginia the freedom to know if they are under surveillance and to use their property legally:


This sure will make the trooper's jobs in Albemarle County much easier. People will be traveling at least 75+ mph if the speed limit is 70. And if they maintain this 75+ speed when entering Albemarle County, it will be like shooting fish in a barrel for the troopers! They can get their monthly quota in just a few hourts most likely! :)

Finally. Can we use radar detectors too?

So does it get all the way to 124? Or does it stop at Keswick?

So what are we supposed to get from a 5 mph increase?
Won't all the speed limit signs need to be replaced? and who will pay for replacing the signs?

Yay! Now we can get to all the new liquor stores quicker.

Republicans have strange priorities.

I am in no way condemning anyone for the speed they drive. I always drive 5mph over the speed limit because that is the way I have done it for almost 40 years and I have received 1 (knock on wood) speeding ticket (doing 40 in a 25 zone, missed the sign, not that that is an excuse).

What I do condemn is politicians telling us they want to make Virginia the energy captical of the east coast and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources and then do something like this. But then again, I just don't like politicians :-) .