Back in the mid-20th century, Nevada, like many other states, didn’t have posted speed limits. The law only stated that drivers stay at what the statute called a "safe and sane" speed. So as long as drivers in Las Vegas weren’t getting into auto accidents or acting treacherous or crazy, they couldn’t be pulled over for speeding by sheriff’s deputies that looked remarkably like Dennis Quaid.
But the federal government passed a law in the mid-1970s that restricted highway funds to states which didn’t institute a 55 mile-per-hour maximum speed limit. That law was so well-respected and revered by Americans that it was gutted in 1987 and then axed altogether in 1995.
Since then, many states have upped their maximum speed limits to 75 mph or higher. And soon, Nevada drivers may be permitted to drive at speeds as high as 85 miles per hour if a bill submitted by Republican state senator Don Gustavson of Sparks becomes law. Senate Bill 191 would only allow this to occur if the Nevada Department of Transportation determines that such a speed in safe on a particular stretch of road.
So now, you’re probably thinking, Great. If the speed limit is raised to 85, then what it really means is that people will drive 90 or 95.
Not necessarily. The neighboring state of Utah recently jacked up its maximum speed limit to 80 miles per hour. Cynics though that the average speed would be around 90 mph, but studies have revealed that it only inched up to 85 from 83 (when the speed limits were 75 mph).
Here’s the best part: Gustavson provided his reasoning for the bill to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Did it have anything to do with freeing up arbitrary restrictions on Nevada citizens? Not exactly.
Gustavson said, "Some legislators have expressed to me what a long lonely drive it is from Las Vegas to the state Capitol. Passage of this legislation could make them less lonely.”
Oh, so the law is intended to make politicians more comfortable. Frankly, that’s a more believable explanation.