CHICAGO (AP) — Drivers in St. Louis southern Illinois suburbs will soon see their top speed limit increased to 70 miles per hour.
The Illinois Department of Transportation says about 87 percent of interstate highways and 98 percent of rural interstates under its jurisdiction will be increased to 70 under the new law taking effect January 1st.
IDOT officials say crews will start installing 70 mph signs and removing 65 mph signs in early January.
Transportation officials urge motorists to obey posted speed limits. They say the 70 mile per hour speed limit will be in effect on segments of Illinois interstates that can accommodate the higher speed while maintaining safety.
About 28 percent of the Illinois Tollway's 286-mile system will be increased to 70 miles per hour.
Several new traffic laws take effect in Illinois January 1st.
The speed limit on rural interstates will go up from 65 to 70-miles-per-hour. Madison and St. Clair Counties can opt out on heavily congested highways. Penalties for speeding will get tougher. Driving more than 26 miles-per-hour over the speed limit will be a Class B misdemeanor. Exceed the limit by 35 miles-per-hour and is a Class A misdemeanor.
And the use of hand-held cellphones will be banned. Fines run from 70-to-150-dollars. Cause a fatal accident because of cellphone use and you could spend three years in prison. Bluetooth headsets, earpieces, and voice activated commands are still allowed.