by MOLLY MOSER
The Senate Committee on Transportation discussed whether Nevada is ready for drivers to put their “pedal to the metal” by increasing the maximum speed limited on Nevada Highways to 85 mph.
Senate Bill 191 would increase the speed limit on Northern Nevada’s Interstate 80, and Southern Nevada’s Interstate 15. Currently, states such as Utah and Texas allow vehicles to travel between 75 and 85 mph on longer highways. Senator Donald Gustavon, who introduced the bill, said the Nevada Department of Transportation has deemed the proposed speed increase safe. Gustavon said that studies show that the increased speed would help ease fatigue in drivers, reduce travel time, and lower accident rates. It’s because of these studies that Gustavon said the phrase “speed kills” is a myth.
“Maybe the opponents who will argue against giving NDOT on what is safe, it’s one phrase – that ‘speed kills’,” Gustavon said. “Those who argue for lower speeds are the ones who create safety hazards.”
The Nevada Law Enforcement Association is in favor of the bill. President of the association, Ron Cuzze, said that according to an unofficial survey, 47 percent of Nevada citizens would like to see speed limits raised to 85 mph on highways.
However, not everyone in attendance during the committee meeting testified in favor of the bill. The opposing side expressed their concerns regarding the chance for increased numbers of fatalities because of the fast speed. Mary Pierzynski, a representative of AAA auto club, said that studies have shown that about 10,395 fatalities were caused by increased speeds on highways throughout the country in 2010.
“The increased speed limit also increases the risk of a crash,” Pierzynski said. “When crashes occur with the same speed limit, injuries are tougher and there are more fatalities.”
Cheryl Blomstrom of the Trucking Association also opposed the bill. She said that increased speeds would be putting trucks and other large vehicles at risk on the road.
“The decision to oppose to this bill is unanimous,” Blomstrom said. “There was not a person who spoke in favor to raise the speed limit to 85 mph, not one.”
Senate bill 191 is supported by the following Senators: Donald Gustavon, Tick Segerblom, Kelvin Atikinson, Greg Brower, Barbara Cegavske, Moises Denis, Pete Goicoechea, Scott Hammond, Joseph Hardy, Mark Hutchinson, Justin Jones, Ben Kieckhefer, Ruben Kihuen, Mark Manedno, Michael Roberson and James Settelmeyer.