85 mph speeds headed to Nevada?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/7/2015

A Nevada state lawmaker is trying again to increase the speed limit to 85 mph on certain stretches of road.

Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, has filed a bill for consideration during the regular session, which opens in February, that would authorize up to 85 mph speeds for all vehicles on stretches of highway deemed appropriate by the Nevada Department of Transportation – up from 75 mph.

Gustavson, vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, offered an identical bill during the last regular session. The 2013 bill advanced from the Senate only to die in the Assembly without getting a floor vote.

If signed into law this time around, Nevada would join Texas as the only states that authorize drivers to travel 85 mph.

Critics say that increasing the speed limit by 10 mph would likely result in travelers driving in excess of 90 mph.

Gustavson previously said that he believes the bump in the speed limit can be made without drivers abusing the new speed. The former truck driver cited research collected in Utah.

Utah law authorizes 80 mph speeds on rural stretches of interstates and limited-access highways throughout the state.

Addressing concerns about higher speeds, Utah officials have noted that 85 percent of drivers on a test section of I-15 posted at 80 mph since 2009 now drive 83 mph – up from 82 mph before the change.

Truckers have voiced concern that higher speed limits result in a wider disparity between the posted speed and how fast many speed-limited trucks can travel.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association say that roadways are safer when all vehicles are permitted to travel at the same rate of speed.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, said that differential speed limits create more interactions between cars and trucks, which can potentially lead to an increase in the number and severity of accidents.

Gustavson’s bill, SB2, awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee for the session that begins Feb. 2.

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