The American autobahn is gone.
Montana’s freewheeling status as the only state without a daytime speed limit evaporated a half-hour before sunrise today. Now the state’s top speed is 75 mph on interstates, day or night.
The new law takes effect on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend, 3 1/2 years after Congress repealed federal speed limits and the signs came down along Montana’s highways.
That’s when Montana began operating under the so-called basic rule, a law requiring motorists to drive in a reasonable and prudent manner based on traffic, road and weather conditions.
In 1997, the Legislature quickly killed a speed limit bill. But that year wound up as the most deadly on Montana roads since the early 1980s, with 265 people killed in traffic accidents, a nearly 34% increase that led the nation.
Support grew for reviving speed limits. Then, in December, the Montana Supreme Court threw out the last vestige of a daytime speed limit by declaring the basic rule unconstitutional.