Gov. Mike Rounds has signed a bill to raise the speed limit on some highways, sending the proposal to the South Dakota Transportation Commission for a final decision.
The legislation, which takes effect July 1, allows the 65-mph speed limit on rural four-lane highways to be raised to 70 mph. The Transportation Commission will decide if it is safe to permit drivers to travel faster than 65 mph on those roads.
Only divided four-lane state highways that are not part of the federal interstate system are affected by the measure – SB208. The speed limit now is 75 mph on most stretches of South Dakota’s interstate highways.
The roads affected include U.S. Highway 83 between Pierre and Interstate 90; U.S. 12 between Aberdeen and I-29; U.S. 37 between Mitchell and Huron; U.S. 50 between Yankton and Vermillion; and U.S. 79 between Rapid City and the Nebraska border.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Bob Gray, R-Fort Pierce, says anyone exceeding 70 mph on divided four-lane state highways would be subject to a $200 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
Speed limits on South Dakota’s rural interstates were increased from 65 mph to 70 mph in 1996, and from 55 mph to 65 mph on state highways.
According to The Associated Press, state records indicate that motorists have been steadily increasing their speeds on state roads since 1992. In 2003, the average speed was 74 mph on rural interstates and 65 mph on state highways.