Nevada bill could increase highway speeds to 85 mph

Feb. 27, 2013

A bill introduced by Nevada State Sen. Don Gustavson would allow the state Dept. of Transportation to increase the maximum speed limit in Nevada to 85 mph where the agency determines that speed is safe. On rural highways in Nevada, the top speed is 70 mph. On interstates it’s 75.

“My first concern is safety, but studies have revealed fewer mishaps on highways where speed actually increased,” Gustavson said in a Las Vegas Review Journal report. “This is likely due to the fact that many travelers were already going these speeds and are now observing what’s ahead of them instead of concentrating on their rear-view mirror ticket-bearing troopers.”

Transportation Department spokesman Scott Magruder said the agency determines speed limits on three factors, whether there is limited access to road, whether a road is a divided highway with two, four or more lanes and on the “85 percent rule.”

That rule determines the average speed driven by 85% of the motorists. On Interstate 80 in Northern Nevada, the average speed is 79 mph where the limit is 75 mph.

NDOT said highways likely to see limits higher than 80 mph are the 360 miles of I-80 from Fernley to West Wendover in Northern Nevada and 72 miles of I-15 from Craig Road to Mesquite.

Gustavson said he has widespread support for the speed limit increase.

“Yes, I do think it will pass, (but) I haven’t talked to the governor yet,” Gustavson said.

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