Montana lawmakers on Friday heard the session’s fourth proposal to increase highway speed limits.
Republican Rep. Art Wittich proposed a ballot referendum Friday for voters to decide whether to raise highway speed limits by 5 mph.
Wittich said the proposal would make Montana’s speed limits consistent with those in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.
“We live in a great state with good roads that are well maintained,” Wittich said. “We have long distances to travel, we like a little bit of freedom.”
Opponents, including three individuals and representatives of truckers and state highway patrol, said people’s desire to get places faster doesn’t outweigh safety precautions.
Wittich said he is open to amending the measure to exclude curved or otherwise unsafe portions of highway.
James Moody of the Montana Highway Patrol said increasing speeds by 5 mph, which would bring various segments to 65, 70 or 75 mph, dangerously widens the discrepancy between passenger vehicles and large trucks.
The highway patrol has opposed two other bills to increase highway speeds this session. Both died.
The patrol is only supporting Senate Bill 375 that includes a safety evaluation and increased speeding fines in addition to a 5 mph increase. That bill is awaiting a vote by the Senate as a whole.
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