Wyoming House approves 80 mph speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Wyoming House has given the thumbs up to a bill to increase speed limits for all vehicles from 75 to 80 mph. Another bill halfway through the statehouse could soon result in some vehicles traveling 90 mph to pass slower vehicles.

House lawmakers voted 57-1 on Tuesday, Feb. 28, to advance a bill to the Senate that would authorize the state’s highway superintendent to sign off on the 5 mph increase in areas deemed able to accommodate the change.

Currently, the Wyoming Department of Transportation can only lower the speed limit.

House Majority Leader Thomas Lubnau, R-Gillette, said his bill does not mandate the superintendent to authorize the higher speed limit.

“We now have variable speed limits that can only be varied down. This just allows those variable speed limits to be increased as well as lowered,” Lubnau recently told Land Line.

Lubnau said he believes the switch could improve safety on roads. He referred to research collected from Utah and Texas that shows highways posted at 80 mph have fewer accidents.

“I don’t know why that is, but the only variable in that equation was the change in the speed limit.”

The bill – HB48 – now awaits assignment to committee in the Senate.

Also approved by the House is a bill to allow motorists to speed while passing other vehicles.

Sponsored by Rep. Del McOmie, R-Lander, the bill would permit motorists to surpass the speed limit by as much as 10 mph to pass other vehicles traveling well below the posted speed on two-lane roads. HB21 would apply only to roads with speed limits of at least 50 mph.

Construction zones are not included.

Supporters say it is a safety hazard for vehicles to get caught behind a slow-moving vehicle. They say the bill would help to keep traffic flowing.

Motorists found to be traveling in excess of the 10 mph leeway provided would face the same penalties as normal. The revenue would be deposited in the local county school fund.

McOmie’s bill is awaiting consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee. A year ago, the same effort died in the Senate panel.

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

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