Higher speed limits soon could be law in Louisiana

| 6/16/2006

A Louisiana House panel has approved a bill to authorize speed limits to be increased on the state’s interstates and other highways if traffic safety isn’t compromised. A similar version of the bill also is in the House.

The House Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee voted 6-5 June 14 to advance a bill that would give the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development authority to conduct traffic safety studies to determine if higher limits can be safely implemented.

Sponsored by Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, the bill would let the department increase the speed limit for all vehicles to 75 mph – up from the current 70 mph. The speed limit on some other four-lane roads could be increased from 65 mph to 70 mph. Some two-lane roads could have speed limits increased from 55 mph to 65 mph.

“This simply authorizes them to raise the speed limits where they think it is proper to do so,” McPherson told The Times-Picayune.

The measure – SB158 – now heads to the House floor for consideration. If approved there, it would go back to the Senate for approval of changes before it could be sent to Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s desk.

A similar effort to increase speed limits recently won passage in the Senate. That version of the bill would authorize the changes without the requirement of doing safety studies. The bill – HB240 – is awaiting House approval of changes made in the Senate.

Both efforts include a provision that would allow drivers of passenger vehicles impeding the flow of traffic to drive on the shoulder of a highway or interstate until the other vehicles pass. The rule would apply only on highways with paved shoulders.