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Which States Have the Highest Speed Limits?

In 1974, Montana was the only state without a set speed limit after a sweep across the nation enacted an Emergency Energy Highway Act signed by President Richard Nixon, designed to save oil in the country. This mandated a 55-MPH speed limit on highways across the county, except in this lone state where a nighttime speed limit of 65 MPH was enabled. Soon, Montana followed suit with the rest of the country and enacted the same speed limits for drivers. The rest, as they say, is history and since the time drivers have obeyed speed limits or paid the price, which includes potential accidents, fines, time in jail, and suspension of driving privileges.

An Autobahn in California?

The Autobahn in Germany is a stretch of highway in Germany that allows drivers to drive as fast as they want. Unheard of in America, right? Everywhere you go in the U.S., be it a big city or a small town, speed limit signs are posted about the highways and roadways. Break the speed limit and you’re subject to tickets, accidents, and other mishaps.

But, now that California Senator John Moorlach introduced a bill to introduce the same Autobahn concept in the state, drivers may one day be able to head out on the highway at any rate of speed they choose, at least if he has his way. Despite what the naysayers tell us, Moorlach believes in his Autobahn plans, even stating that he doesn’t feel that it will affect the safety of drivers or anyone else, for that matter.

It’s not likely that California will flourish in the Autobahn development any time soon, however. Although the 1974 bill was designed to save oil, it was also seen as a safety measure that protected drivers. The National Safety Council says they regularly conduct studies that show speed is a major factor in car crashes. Furthermore, speed influences the severity of the crash.

The NSC says that allowing unlimited speed on California roadways (or anywhere else, for that matter) would only increase accidents and fatalities -and many people agree. Even though an Autobahn may not happen anytime soon, some states do allow drivers a bit more freedom in their speeds. Some states and cities are more generous than others with their speed limits.

Speed limits are set by each jurisdiction in America and are usually set in 5-MPH increments. Some speed limits are as low as 25 MPH on roads with high volumes of traffic and in town and as high as 85 MPH on interstates and highways, although the latter number is quite unusual. There is an exception to this rule, where one US territory has a posted 15-MPH speed limit. Throughout the United States, the average speed limit if 55-MPH.

Highest Speed Limits in America

Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? Right. Highway 130, a rural route in the state, boasts the highest speed limit in the U.S. with a posted 85-MPH speed limit. But, it’s not only the largest speed limit that Texas lays claims to. It also has the greatest top speed allowable on rural interstates and other limited-access roads, as reported by the Governor’s Highway SafetyAssociation. The average speed limit in Texas is 78.3 MPH.

Drivers in Idaho are treated to an 80-MPH speed limit, as well as drivers in Wyoming, Texas, and Utah. Interstate 95, just north of Bangor, Maine, has a 75-MPH speed limit.

There are approximately 600-miles of highway in Michigan with a 75-MPH speed limit as well. States in the western part of the U.S. also oftentimes share the 75-MPH speed limit. Altogether, a total of 12-states offer drivers a 75-MPH speed limit. Those states are those mentioned, as well as Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Nevada.

22 states in the U.S. have a 70-MPH speed limit. Those states include North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. The remainder of the states in the U.S. have 60-MPH or less speed limites.

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