For a while, the speed limit in Montana.

After the repeal of the federally mandated 55 mph speed limit, Montana changed their speed limit in December of 1995 to what they called the "basic rule"... cars and light trucks were to drive in a careful and prudent manner based on road conditions. What it did was effectively remove the speed limit for automobiles driving on the interstate during the daytime.

Speed Limit signs read (it was really cool to see this):

              SPEED LIMIT
     -----------------------------
     Day   -- Reasonable & Prudent
     Truck -------------------- 60
     Night --- All Vehicles --- 55
On May 28, 1999, Montana brought back the speed limit to 75 on the interstate (65 in urban areas), and 70 on other highways. The reason for the change was due to the increase in percentage of traffic accidents that were fatal (note that the number of accidents did not go up, just the % that were fatal), and because most people could not be trusted to drive in a reasonable OR prudent manner.

Governor Marc Racicot remarked on the passage of the new speed limit bill, "Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, no numerical daytime speed limit on major highways was interpreted by some as no speed limits at all. Perhaps they were reading too fast too. Whatever the reasons, such misinterpretations posed potential threats to safety."

Actually, most states have a reasonable & prudent speed limit. Only it is in conjuction with a posted speed limit. So you could actually get a speeding ticket for going below the speed limit if your speed is too high for conditions.

Most of the time, however, the real "reasonable & prudent" speed is that of the traffic, no matter what the speed limit. Yes, if you collide with a vehicle head-on, you are more likely to die if you go 70 rather than 55. However, on a divided highway, that type of accident will rarely, if ever, happen. Most of the accidents are going to be with other cars going in the same direction as you. Therefore, it is the relative speed that will determine the severity of the accident. If you are going within 5 MPH of the rest of the traffic, your bumper will be able to absorb the impact with no damage. If you are going 55 while everyone else is going 75, the result will be sort of like those crash tests...

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