Toll road speed limits are commonly higher than other stretches of highway, especially in Texas, which made national news this year for approving an 85-mph stretch between San Antonio and Austin. Now Montana is preparing to hit the 85 mph mark, too—but on all of its public interstates.
With the large distances to cover and long-straight stretches in much of the west, it makes obvious sense to cut the time needed to travel them. On the other hand, as Montana Highway Patrol Col. Tom Butler pointed out to the Missoulian, higher speed limits shorten reaction time and extend braking distances.
That’s not stopping Montana state representatives and senators from pushing for daytime speed limits as high as 85 mph on the interstate system. The current speed limit is 75 mph—itself an increase over past limits, which has seen no issues since its implementation. If the 85 mph limit proves too high to gain legislative support, however, there’s a fall-back position for an 80 mph limit.
Long commutes to remote work sites affect many Montana drivers, a point noted by State Senator Scott Sales, who told the Missoulian that he could have saved an hour driving between Bozeman and the Bakken oil patch.
Senator Jonathan Windy Boy makes an even simpler case: “Once in a while it helps to get from Point A to Point B a little quicker.”