Nevada Senate endorses opening door to 80 mph speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/22/2015

The Nevada Senate has voted 16-4 to approve an amended bill to increase the speed limit to 80 mph on certain stretches of road. The bill awaits further consideration in the Assembly.

Sponsored by Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, SB2 would authorize up to 80 mph speeds for all vehicles on stretches of highway deemed appropriate by the Nevada Department of Transportation – up from 75 mph.

As introduced, the bill authorized up to 85 mph speeds but the top speed was changed to 80 mph in committee.

Gustavson, vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the change was made to reflect the top speeds in neighboring states.

Critics say that increasing the speed limit by 5 mph would likely result in travelers driving in excess of 85 mph.

Gustavson said during a recent committee hearing that he believes the bump in the speed limit can be made without drivers abusing the new speed. The former truck driver has 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.

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

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, has 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 echoes the sentiment about keeping car and truck speeds the same.

“The safest policy is one that provides for uniformity in speeds.”

SB2 is scheduled to be considered Thursday, April 23, in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Nevada, click here.

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