Wyoming lawmakers advance, kill speed bills

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/8/2012

Two bills in the Wyoming Legislature that cover speed limit issues met opposite fates.

On its way to Gov. Matt Mead’s desk is a bill to allow motorists to speed while passing other vehicles. Senate lawmakers voted unanimously to advance the bill. House lawmakers already approved HB21 on a 27-2 vote.

Sponsored by Rep. Del McOmie, R-Lander, the bill would permit motorists to surpass the speed limit by as much as 10 mph to overtake trucks and other vehicles traveling below the posted speed on two-lane roads. The leeway 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.

The bill specifies that the Wyoming Highway Patrol report to lawmakers in one year about any problems with implementation of the rule or enforcement.

Meanwhile, the Senate Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee voted to kill a bill to increase speed limits for all vehicles from 75 to 80 mph.

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

The 80-mph speed bill would have authorized the state’s highway superintendent to sign off on the 5 mph increase in areas deemed able to accommodate the change. House lawmakers previously approved the bill – HB48 – on a 57-1 vote.

House Majority Leader Thomas Lubnau, the bill’s sponsor, has 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,” Lubnau, R-Gillette, previously told Land Line.

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

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