Nevada Might be Next With 85 MPH Speed Limit


Travel times might be reduced soon in parts of Nevada if a new bill proposing an 85 mph speed limit becomes law.

On Monday, Nevada State Senator Don Gustavson introduced the bill, saying it would pave he way for a speed people driving in rural Nevava “are already doing out there anyway.” The top speed on Nevada’s rural highways is currently 70 mph, or 75 mph on interstates. Utah and Texas are currently the only two states with limited over 75 mph.

SEE ALSO: Texas Toll Road Gets 85 MPH Speed Limit

“Utah’s statistics show that the fatality rates in those areas with higher speed limits have actually gone down,” he told the Los Angeles Times. They thought that once it went up, the death toll would go with it. But the average speed under the lower limit was 82 before, and now it’s 85.”

Texas decided to raise its speed limit to 85 mph, albeit on a toll road while lowering the limit on neighboring roads to 55 mph.

[Source: LA Times]

1 Comment

Steve Doner says:

To the Editor:

With several states
increasing speed limits recently, there has predictably been a fair amount of
discussion and debate on the topic, much of it laced with uninformed claims and
silly clichés like “speed kills”. Like
the lies of a politician, most of these claims contain just enough truth, logic
or emotional appeal to fool many people into listening.

There are bigger issues
to tackle in this world, but this is one of the few laws that touch the life of
nearly every citizen every day. Most of
us will never be charged with breaking a law, except on the road. We complain about various forms of government
ineptitude, but we actually feel it on
a daily basis when we get in our cars and drive on roads with under-posted
speed limits. What a shame and what a
great opportunity for politicians to get some easy points with citizens by
simply requiring that speed limits be based on sound traffic engineering
principles as they once were before the much-hated 55 limit came along forty or
so years ago.

Studies have long shown
that speed limits have little effect on how fast people actually drive on open roads
and any traffic engineer, and many state police departments, will explain that
85th percentile speeds are the proper way to set limits. This is the maximum speed at which 85% of
traffic actually flows when unencumbered.
A quick internet search will show that this is widely accepted as the
best way to set speed limits. The
National Motorists Association, the Michigan State Police and the Louisiana
State Police are among those that pop up in a web search.

So if people drive fast
anyway, why waste money changing the signs?
Good question, but there are some important reasons. Artificially low limits do not slow down the
faster traffic but do cause several types of dysfunction which make the roads
more dangerous, for example:

Variance: slower traffic will tend
to flow at or near the posted limit. When
limits are too low, the speed differential between the fastest and slowest
traffic increases. This is a leading cause of road rage, particularly
when slower traffic does not keep right and yield to faster traffic.

Drivers: people multi-task when
driving does not demand their full attention.
Dumbed down limits tend to increase distracting activities further
contributing to impaired drivers and road rage as slower traffic lumbers along
in the passing lane chit-chatting on the phone, too busy to notice someone
wants to pass.

Use of Less-Safe Roads: when a
shorter or cheaper two-lane route carries the same speed limit as an interstate
highway fatalities can go up simply because people are not motivate to use the
safer roads which sometimes carry tolls and are often less direct (but faster
if speed limits allow it).

Speeding Penalties: some
states, like Georgia and Illinois, have instituted so-called “super-speeder”
laws. For going 30 over the limit a person can go to prison in
Illinois. Most of metro Chicago is still posted at 55, so 30 over the
limit is not unusual when the roads are clear.
Most reasonable people would agree that 85 is not such an unreasonable
speed, in modern cars in clear daytime weather, that offenders should go to
jail. These same roads were posted at 65
or 70 forty years ago when cars were junk wagons compared to modern vehicles
with anti-lock brakes, stability control, etc.
Before 55, Nevada and Montana had no daytime speed limit at all.

of Respect for All Traffic Laws: when limits are set at 55/65 on interstates,
the government inadvertently teaches its citizenry that it is clueless about
establishing proper traffic laws. This
then leads drivers to disregard limits on roadways where 55/65 may be an
appropriate speed…including construction zones, etc.

of Resources on Tickets and Processing: in a busy world and an
age of runaway government costs why bother will all the ticketing and
processing costs unless it is necessary to make the roads safe (and it’s not).

So why do we still have
crazy-low speed limits on our interstates nearly 20 years after the national
speed limit was finally lifted? Two big

insurance companies like low speed limits which trigger more violations. The insurance surcharges (for points on
license) are the primary reason that P&C insurance companies push to
keep limits low – it enables them to charge higher rates without higher risk –
it’s all profit. This is true of AAA as
well. AAA is an insurance company
pretending to be a motor club and is perhaps the motoring public’s most
formidable foe.

Bureaucracy: during the 55 years states lost federal
highway funds if they did not enforce the law that even police hated and
laughed at. As a result, more troopers
were hired and infrastructure was added to process all the tickets. Now, we have a bloated bureaucracy trying to
preserve itself and which gladly teams up with the insurance lobby to harass
and oppress motorists.

Some have cited the fact
that fatalities dropped when limits were reduced from 75 to 55 forty or so
years ago. While true, they never seem
to mention the fact that limits continued to steadily drop when limits started
going back up. States which have
increased limits, by and large, have experienced declines in fatality rates
because of reduced speed variance and road rage as well as diversion of traffic
onto safer (and faster) roads. The fatality rate even decreased in
Montana which for some years had no daytime limit following
the end of the 55mph national speed limit in 1995.

One last point should not be
overlooked – traffic congestion increases when speeds are lower. Heavy
traffic can only move as fast as the slowest car and the slowest car will be
going the speed limit. Like water through a hose, you can increase the
flow rate by using a bigger hose or by increasing the flow rate. Slow
down the flow of the main line and all the feeders back up. Lower limits
mean more gridlock. Higher limits allow
us to get more efficiency out of our existing infrastructure reducing the need
to widen roads.

Artificially low limits have nothing
to do with safety. They are about politics and enrichment of insurers. Please tell the elected representatives that you
want limits to be set based on the 85th percentile rule, especially
on interstate highways.

Steve Doner

Former Illinois State Chapter

National Motorists Association