March, 2017 speed limit news roundup

There is a good amount of speed-related legislative activity this spring.

The Arkansas legislature quickly approved HB 2057, intended to raise freeway speed limits to 75 and two lane speed limits to 65. It is unclear if freeway speed limits will actually increase. The Highway Commission already had authority to raise speed limits and did not use it.

Also in Arkansas, the City of Damascus has been formally accused of being a speed trap. Under state law, a city is a speed trap if it gets more than 30% of its revenue from speeding tickets. Damascus, population 385, is a strip of scattered development along a five lane section of US 65 where the speed limit drops from 60 to 45. According to press coverage, most ticketed drivers continued close to the old 60 mph speed limit after crossing into the city.

The governor of Idaho signed a bill allowing drivers to exceed the speed limit by 15 mph while passing on a two lane road. Also, Idaho DOT has finally increased the speed limit to 70 mph on the divided highway section of US 20 east of Idaho Falls. 70 is the maximum allowed by law on highways other than Interstates.

The Illinois legislature is considering SB 2036 to raise speed limits to 75 on Interstates outside the Chicago area, and to 60 on rural two lane roads.

Maine reduced the speed limit on the south half of I-295 after raising it in 2014. The reduction is in response to news media reports blaming crashes on the speed limit.

The Maryland House passed three speed-related laws. HB0332 authorizes Montgomery County to lower speed limits to 20 mph outside of residential areas. HB0333 expands the aggressive driving law. HB1451 reserves the left lane of some highways for passing.

Minnesota DOT continues to increase rural speed limits from 55 to 60, as required by a 2014 law. DOT policy is designed to set speed limits 5-10 mph too low, but is an improvement over the old system.

The Ohio DOT director requested and will be granted the authority to temporarily lower speed limits on Interstate highways. The plan is to reduce speed limits around Columbus during heavy traffic.

In Oregon, HB 3339 would increase the speed limit to 65 on Route 138.

In Nevada, AB 329 and AB 334 would prohibit left lane blocking. Meanwhile, the DOT still refuses to comply with a law raising the state speed limit to 80.

In Virginia the Senate passed SB 1409, increasing the reckless driving threshold from 81 to 86, but it died in the House. Many people are concerned that the difference between the 70 mph legal speed and the 81 mph jailable speed is too low. Also, two bills authorizing speed cameras died.

In Washington, SB 5053 would require the DOT to increase the speed limit on much of I-90. The DOT refused to implement a previous speed limit increase because it was not mandatory.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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