Using extreme caution, you merge onto a Florida interstate highway where the maximum posted speed limit is 70 miles per hour. You opt for the far right lane, set your cruise control at that "maximum speed," but aren't a bit surprised to see other vehicles blow by you like a scene from the movie "Fast & Furious."
The Florida Legislature is working to address the dangerous problem of flagrant speeding by ... you guessed it, raising speed limits.
Oddly, no one will say exactly why. About the only reason we've heard is that some other states did it and drivers will get places in less time.
How much less time? Assuming a 20-mile commute, going 75 instead of 70 will get you to your destination 1 minute and 8 seconds sooner.
Hardly a reasonable trade off for what will surely be -- based upon real crash data from other states -- an increase in speed-related deaths and injuries.
Have our legislators forgotten that Florida already has a reputation for death and destruction on our roads?
While we still have so much that needs to be done to address the serious public health issue of traffic injuries and deaths, can we afford to go back in time on a topic as basic as speed limits?
The facts argue against it. In 2012, the latest year which complete statistics are available:
2,430 people died on Florida roads WITH the 70 mph limit in place.
On average 46 people die in Florida each week from traffic crashes.
361 of those traffic fatalities were related to excessive speed.
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for Florida's children.
476 pedestrians, 122 bicyclists and 491 motorcyclists were killed.
Bradenton had 49 deaths and 4,480 crashes in 2012 (both up from 2011).
Numbers don't lie. Are all these deaths so acceptable that we have room for more?
That's a gruesome average of 46 funerals a week every week of the year just from traffic deaths in our state. Let's ask the thousands of grieving family members if raising the speed limit is what we need to do.
The legislation speeding through committees doesn't just apply to interstates. It also allows increased speed limits on non-interstate highways in our rural areas where traffic-related deaths, injuries and crashes represent a significant percentage of the statewide total.
The Federal Highway Administration noted that "fatal injuries" increased when speed limits went up from 60 to 65 and from 70 to 75. That should be an "end of discussion" statement.
And let's not forget that in most circumstances Florida already gives motorists a 5-mph "warning cushion."
Also congestion, weather, smoke and other factors often render the current maximum limits "too fast for conditions" and, thus, unsafe.
When these bills get to the House and Senate floors -- and there appear to be no roadblocks to that happening very soon -- our state representatives and senators should not take lightly the consequences of their votes.
And should they ignore the death and serious injury toll and decide that faster is better, Gov. Rick Scott should use his veto pen to stop this bad idea in its tracks.
Kevin Bakewell, is senior vice president and chief public affairs officer for AAA-The Auto Club Group in Tampa/St. Petersburg, the second largest AAA club in North America serving more than 8 million members throughout the Southeast and Midwest and whose mission includes improving traffic safety.