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Montana lawmakers propose raising speed limit on interstates


Montana is a big state, and most Montanans are used to driving long distances. When traffic on rural highways is light, a person can save a lot of time by driving fast. Four Montana state legislators are now working on separate bills that would increase the daytime speed limit on interstates in Montana to 80 m.p.h. and in the case of one stretch of road, 85 m.p.h.

But speed comes with a price, in the form of increased risk of a car accident. The chief of the Montana Highway Patrol declined to comment on the proposals until he sees the actual language of the bills, but he did express some concerns. He noted that higher speeds mean shorter reaction times, and a harder impact if there is a crash. A data specialist for the Patrol noted that higher speeds mean a greater distance is needed to stop.

Whether the proposed speed increases will become law is anybody's guess at present. Most Montana drivers are responsible and will drive at the higher speed limits in a safe manner. But there are some who will take an 80 m.p.h. speed limit as a license to go 85 or 90. When these drivers cause a crash, they can face liability not just in criminal court, but in a civil lawsuit brought by any injured victims.

Speed is only one of numerous factors that can lead to an auto accident. But speeding, or driving too fast for road conditions regardless of the posted limit, is negligence. Those who are injured by a negligent driver can explore their options by meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: Billings Gazette, "Some lawmakers want to increase interstate speed limit to 80 mph," Charles S. Johnson, Nov. 29, 2014

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