Montana's Raising The Limit Again

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
montana s raising the limit again

Today’s young drivers don’t believe it, but before 1973 and from 1995 to 1998, there really was effectively no speed limit on Montana freeways. In 1998, in response to a traitor’s motorist’s decision to contest his “reasonable speed” tickets all the way to the Montana Supreme Court, a limit of 75mph was imposed.

That limit may be raised in short order.

Four Montana legislators are sponsoring bills that could raise the speed limit to 85mph. This would tie a Texas toll road for highest speed limit in the nation and would be the highest speed limit on public roadways. The rationale? Simply to save time for drivers covering long distances on lightly-trafficked freeways.

Should this occur, it will create a rather unique situation for those of us who own vehicles with late-Seventies speedometers. Given the fact that most speedos read a little high, you’ll be able to “peg” the dial on your 1980 Ford LTD without breaking the law. The times, they are a changin’!

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  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Dec 02, 2014

    Having been fortunate enough to drive both Montana and Germany from one side to the other, I am always amazed WE don't have the true high speed driving culture. Typical MT drive is a pickup at 90, or an older American sedan rolling along at 75-80. Cops do patrol, and I saw a few moving mode radar hits over very long distances-flat and line of sight, but before you could "make" the car. The cops and clerks apologize for the fine because there isn't a lot of money in Montana. I've "yuppie" relatives in Bozeman and between the two they just break six figures. Montana Salary Shock is the way they describe it, and unless you move there as a retiree from a right or left coast civil service job, you are scraping. Still, from the top of a ridge, with only two feet of fresh powder dropping off below you for a few thousand feet, there is no place nicer on the planet.....

  • Matt Foley Matt Foley on Dec 02, 2014

    Does anyone here believe the tired old argument that no matter how high you set the speed limit, people will always drive 5-10 mph faster? Ohio recently raised its freeway speed limit to 70 mph, and the only difference I've noticed is that the slowest cars on the road have sped up (which is great). The faster drivers don't seem to be going any faster. I'm guessing most folks in Montana won't suddenly drive 95, either.

    • See 6 previous
    • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Dec 08, 2014

      The thing is, at least where I am people tell me that Ohio state police are the strictest, and they do seem to patrol the OH Turnpike more than Indiana and Pennsylvania, so when I cross the border I knock it back to 75, which most other traffic seems to do.

  • Avatar77 Avatar77 on Dec 02, 2014

    I strongly urge against driving 85 MPH in a 1980 Ford LTD for any sustained period of time! If nothing else it will accelerate the rust.

  • Felix Hoenikker Felix Hoenikker on Dec 02, 2014

    Just got back from Italy. The speed limit on the A roads there is 130 km/h or 81 mph. And this is a small country with lots of small cars. Most drivers seemed to be going closer to 120 kph. Those with the BMWs, MBs and Audis liked to show off their ability to spend $8 per gallon for gas or $7.20 per gal diesel by going faster than 130. I was driving a Fiat Qubo 1.3L supercharged diesel five speed manual - not brown, but close to the TTAC ideal wagon. It had no trouble holding 130, but took a little time to get there. It also averaged 50 mpg on diesel for combined city/highway driving. The real fun was not on the A roads, but on the hairpins along the Amalfi coast. It was difficult to keep it in 3rd gear at 40 km/h on those hilly and twisty roads.

    • Quentin Quentin on Dec 02, 2014

      Amalfi coast is beautiful. I was on a bus back to the train station to head to Rome when a tiny Fiat smashed into the bus as it slid through a hairpin curve on the Amalfi coast. I'd love to go back.