AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — The Virginia Senate recently passed a bill that would increase the reckless driving threshold from 80 to 85 miles per hour, and people we spoke with today had mixed opinions about the idea.
It would amend the section of the Code of Virginia on excessive speeds to read "A person is guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of 20 miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of 85 miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit."
Some people like the idea, saying they already see people going close to that speed on Virginia interstates.
"There's people on the highway now that speed, and they're not doing the speed limit the way they should anyway," Cathy Wheeling said.
Horace Douty was traveling to Washington, D.C. along Interstate 81 on Wednesday. He said he supported the change as well, since he often has to speed just to keep up with traffic.
"I have to drive close to 80 just to stay in the traffic lane, and many times people are passing me," Douty said.
However, others who stopped at the Mount Sidney rest area on Wednesday had safety concerns about the increase. A concern we heard several times was that people would just drive even faster.
"81 is a thoroughfare from north to south," Michael Lemn said. "And there's a lot of people people traveling that the faster they can go, the faster they can get to wherever they want to go."
Others felt drivers were too distracted to be going that fast on the interstate.
"People are distracted in their cars, by their phones and so on, so I just think it makes it possible you could have a greater catastrophe," John Gumpf said.
The bill would still have to pass the House of Delegates and be signed by the governor before becoming law.
In Virginia, a reckless driving ticket is a misdemeanor and comes with a mandatory minimum fine of $250 if convicted, according to the Virginia code. Right now, it can be charged if any driver is going more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on any Virginia road (going 45 mph in a 25 mph zone, for instance) or if going over 80 mph. The speed limit on many parts of I-81 is 70 mph.