Montana Lawmakers Work to Raise Speed Limit

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Lawmakers in Montana are working on a bill to raise the speed limit on Interstate 94 to 80 miles per hour or faster.

Montana could be the next state to adopt a speed limit of 80 miles per hour. State Sen. Scott Sales and House of Representatives-elect Art Wittich are drafting a bill to raise the daytime speed limit from 75 miles per hour to 80 or 85.

"I think for the Eastern part of the state especially where the roads are fairly straight, safe and flat." says Glendive Public Works director Jack B. Rice. "I think it would probably be a good idea."

Sales says he travels to the Bakken for work for six or seven months each year. If the bill passes, he says it will save him about an hour of driving each way. But some people in Glendive say it should be up to the regulators of the roads.

"If this is something that law enforcement is behind then I'm comfortable with it," says Wayne Murphy, who is the Principal of Dawson County high school. "If it's something that their not behind then. Then obviously I think we need to take a look at it."

"With higher speeds, that holds a potential for um more severe crashes," says Edward Hilbert, who is the Captain for District 5. "When a crash does occur, certainly speed itself may not cause a crash unless there bad roads or somebody coming to an intersection that's going too fast. And can't stop."

Hilbert says he's seen more accidents since the oil boom started. But if the speed limit goes up, some say drivers need to be more aware.

"And it's not going to involve people of their responsibilities," says Montana State Senator Scott Sales. "I mean just because the speed limit goes to 80 or 85 you need to drive according to the conditions."

Sales also says the bill has substantial support within the Republican caucus, and others in the House of Representatives. But the bill won't be voted on until the next legislative session.

Sales says the bill will probably be heard during the first two or three weeks of the next session. The bill must make it to the Legislature in 45 days.