By a 15-6 vote, the Senate on Wednesday approved legislation raising Nevada’s highway speed limit from 75 to 85 mph.
Sponsor Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, said the bill leaves the final decision on which, if any, roads see the higher limit to the Nevada Department of Transportation. It would only be for roads with two or more lanes in each direction and in rural areas, he said.
“You won’t see this through the Spaghetti Bowl,” Gustavson said.
Prime candidates would be freeways such as Interstate 80 across Northern Nevada, he said.
Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, was one of the six no votes, saying she was concerned about elderly drivers or teens being on the road next to a truck going 85 or 90 mph.
Sen. Pat Spearman, D-Las Vegas, said she thinks studies indicate that as highway speeds rise, so do fatalities.
But Gustavson said the studies he has show nearly half of fatalities occur in the 45 mph range and that they go down as speeds go up. When Utah raised its limit to 80, the number of accidents actually went down, he said.
Sen. Breg Brower, R-Reno, said the average speed would probably only increase a couple of mph given that many drivers already exceed the 75 mph limit.
Senate Bill 191 was forwarded to the Assembly for consideration.