Politics & Government

Kansas House slams the brakes on 80 mph speed limit

File photo
File photo File photo

It doesn’t look like you’ll get to drive 80 mph legally on the interstate in Kansas anytime soon.

The state House on Tuesday passed a bill raising speed limits in some rural areas, but overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would have bumped the speed limit on multilane divided highways from 75 to 80 mph.

Rep. John Bradford, R-Lansing, had proposed the increase. He said five other states have gone to 80 and Texas has raised the speed limit to 85 in some remote western parts of the state.

“This does not say everyone has to drive 80 mph. We do have the right lane” for slower vehicles, he said.

Several legislators came to the podium to argue that it would be unsafe.

Opponents said that if the speed limit became 80, it would raise the “buffer” to 90. Although motorists driving over 80 but less than 90 could be cited for speeding, the violation wouldn’t be counted against their insurance.

Rep. Les Osterman, R-Wichita, said he was especially worried about mixing slower truck traffic with high-speed cars, especially with young drivers who are prone to using cellphones and other distracting devices while driving.

“You’re looking for a disaster to happen, and it happens very quickly,” Osterman said. “I’m not going to have it on me that I raised the speed limit to cause more deaths in the state.”

The amendment was rejected 90-24.

The underlying bill, to allow the secretary of transportation to raise speed limits on rural two-lane highways by 5 mph, passed 106-19.

That could increase speed limits from 65 to 70 on state highways and from 55 to 60 on county and township highways.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas