Nebraska, other states pursue speed limit changes

April 13, 2018

Keith Goble


A deal is near completion in Nebraska to change posted speeds on many highways. State legislators in the state are not alone in their pursuit this year to enact speed changes.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says roadways are safest when all vehicles are permitted to travel at the same rate of speed.

Legislators in the one-chamber statehouse voted 44-1 on Tuesday, April 11, to give final approval of a bill to increase vehicle speeds from 65 mph to 70 mph on four-lane expressways. Two-lane state highways would see an increase from 60 mph to 65 mph.

The bill, LB1009, now moves to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ desk for his expected signature.

Sponsored by Sen. John Murante of Gretna, Neb., the bill mandates that before any speed changes could take effect the Nebraska Department of Transportation would need to study the issue.

Advocates, including the governor, say the proposed changes would be good for business and tourism.

“This approach to speed limits addresses the many concerns we’ve heard about inconsistencies with the current system” Ricketts said in previous prepared remarks.

Murante has added that the increased speeds would bring into line the state with the 85th percentile speed – the speed at or below which 85 percent of vehicles travel in free-flowing traffic.

Other actions to address vehicle speeds are under review in multiple statehouses.

The House Judiciary-Civil Committee has voted to advance a bill that attempts to bump up speeds on toll highways.

State law was amended in 2014 to permit 70 mph travel on rural four-lane highways and the Illinois Tollway. The tollway, however, raised maximum speeds for motorists to 65 mph and 60 mph along certain stretches. Truck speeds were capped at 60 mph.

Sponsored by Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, the bill calls for raising the speed limit for motorists to 70 mph. Truck speeds would be required to be set within 10 mph of 70 mph.

The Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) would be exempted from the speed increase.

HB5054 awaits further consideration in the House. If approved, it would head to the Senate.

Two bills are halfway through the statehouse to amend rules on speed limits.

Oklahoma already permits all vehicles to travel at 75 mph on four-lane divided highways, including interstates. A 2016 state law, however, permits higher posted speeds after a state Department of Transportation engineering and traffic investigation.

The House voted 84-3 to advance a bill to revise the speed rule. Sponsored by Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, HB3395 specifies that 85 mph would be the maximum speed allowed on affected highways.

Senate lawmakers voted 38-6 to increase speeds for motorists on turnpikes. SB1385 would set the speed at 85 mph – up from 75 – on the Turner Turnpike, Indian Nation Turnpike, H.E. Bailey Turnpike, and the Cimarron Turnpike.

Sponsored by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, the bill calls for keeping truck speeds at 75 mph.

Advocates for keeping trucks at the current limit say that truck tires are not designed to handle speeds in excess of 75 mph. They point out that tire manufacturers say traveling faster than 75 mph can cause tires to blow out, creating safety issues.

Both bills await committee consideration in the opposite chamber.

Multiple new laws revise maximum speed limits for motorists on certain highways.

SB466 and HB73 authorize increases in posted speed limits from 55 mph to 60 mph on U.S. Route 301, all of U.S. Route 17, and state Routes 3 and 207.

U.S. Route 17 already permits 60 mph travel between the town of Port Royal and Saluda.

HB684 increases posted speed limits from 55 mph to 60 mph on state Route 3 between the town of Warsaw and the unincorporated area of Emmerton.

HB55 raises the speed limit from 55 mph to 60 mph on U.S. Route 501 between the town of South Boston and the North Carolina line.

The changes are set to take effect on July 1.