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Committee Passes Bill To Boost Max Nevada Speed To 80 MPH

Photo Courtesy Nevada Dept. of Transportation

The current maximum speed limit on Nevada rural highways is 75 mph. A bill to increase the speed limit to 80 mph is making its way through the state legislature.

Photo Courtesy Nevada Dept. of Transportation

UPDATED 7 A.M. (AP) - A Senate committee has passed a bill that would allow a higher maximum speed on some Nevada highways.

The Senate Transportation Committee unanimously passed SB2 on Tuesday. It now heads to the Senate floor.

The bill originally called for a top speed of 85 mph, but Republican bill sponsor Sen. Don Gustavson asked that the limit be lowered to 80 mph because some people were uncomfortable with the higher speed.

Existing Nevada law allows a top speed of 75 mph. Gustavson said raising speed limits would help truckers and cut down on travel fatigue for all drivers.

A number of police agencies and the state transportation department testified against the bill and said it could increase fatal crashes.

Only Utah and Texas have speed limits exceeding 75 miles per hour.

*Correction: The original headline for this article has been changed to reflect changes approved by the Nevada Senate Transportation Committee to the original bill. 

March 18, 12 A.M. A Nevada Senate committee voted unanimously Tuesday to let the Nevada Department of Transportation increase maximum speed limits to 85 miles per hour in rural areas of the state.

The Nevada Department of Transportation says the higher proposed speed limit would apply to rural areas on highways like I-80. Republican Senator Dan Gustavson is sponsoring the bill. His district is rural.

“Traffic generally drives about 80-85 anyway. Between 80 and 85 and a large percentage of them do and it is done safe,” Gustavson says.

0318-nv-speed-meetingA Nevada Senate committee Tuesday voted to let the Nevada Dept. of Transportation raise the speed limit on rural highways to 85 mph. (Ky Plaskon / Capital Public Radio)

But drivers like Marjeana Lampson say people will just keep pushing the speed limit. “If you raise it to 85, they will be going 95. At that point and that is dangerous.”

Lampson says rural highways hold hazards like horses and high winds. Central Lyon County Fire Protection District Chief John Gillenwater, says boredom is another problem. “People day dream and then drift off the road and then they overcorrect and they end up crashing,” Gillenwater says.

And getting off the boring road faster is why some drivers like Tracy Hutmen support a higher speed limit. “Just because it is so rural out here and it takes so long to get anywhere,” Hutmen says.

He trusts NDOT to increase speed limits where it makes sense. But NDOT’s Sean Server says the only “positive” to the bill is that the agency gets to decide when and where to increase the speed and right now it does not have an a appetite for more speed. 

“We think it sends the wrong message of if we are out there preaching safety, that if we are in favor of the bill, raising the speed limit goes opposed to our philosophy,” Server says.

If the speed limit increase does pass, The Department will study if, and, or where drivers might be able to safely push the pedal closer to the metal.