Watermeier Says Speed Limit Study Includes Actual Drivers

LINCOLN – State Sen. Dan Watermeier says a proposal to increase maximum highway speeds is based on the 85 Percentile Principle.

Under this method, engineers consider the speed at or below what 85 percent of drivers actual travel.

The principle was part of testimony before the transportation committee on LB1009  that proposes a speed limit increase of 65 mph on rural highways, 70 mph on super highways and 80 mph on the Interstate.

The state asked for speed study in 2005.


Watermeier: “The department gathered information on approximately 4,000 miles and found that 75% of the study locations recommended an increase from 60-65 mph based on driver expectations and actual usage.”

He said the transportation department reported that speeds are posted at 60 or 65 mph on segments of roadways that are fundamentally the same.


Watermeier: “Therefore, LB 1009 was introduced to bring consistency and uniformity to the system.”

Watermeier said opponents stressed that speed is a factor in an increased number of accidents and on the severity of accidents.


Watermeier: “Advocates testified that research has shown that fatalities increase by 4% on highways and 8% on Interstates and freeways for each 5 mph increase in the speed limit.”

He said the trucking industry noted that it takes a truck and loaded semi-trailer two football fields to stop at 65 mph.

It was estimated that if the speed limit were to increase by 5 mph on the Interstate, a commuter from Lincoln to Omaha would save approximately 2 minutes.

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