Kansas bill would open door to 80 mph speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, January 22, 2016

A five-year-old state law in Kansas that permits driving at 75 mph on some stretches of highway could soon be updated to accommodate faster travel.

State law now authorizes speeds of 75 mph on about 800 miles of highways around the state. Affected stretches include almost all of the Kansas Turnpike as well as most of Interstates 35, 70 and 135; and U.S. Highways 69 and 81.

An effort led by Rep. Jan Pauls, R-Hutchinson, would again boost speeds for all vehicles by 5 mph to 80 mph on divided, multi-lane highways.

During the 2011 regular session, state lawmakers said they approved a bill to increase speeds from 70 mph to 75 mph in order to make Kansas more competitive with nearby states.

Advocates say it makes sense to again increase speeds because many drivers already cruise along at the higher rate. Others say it is good for the state’s economy.

Six states – Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, already permit all vehicles to travel at 80 mph on certain highways. In Montana, motorists are allowed to drive at 80 mph while trucks are limited to 65 mph.

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.

He added that “they are also a contributing factor to increased congestion and inefficiencies with local, regional, and national goods movement.”

The bill, HB2450, awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee.

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

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