Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Some rural Oregon speed limits went up today; safety advocates fear a rise in traffic fatalities

Speed limits on major rural hughways in Central and Eastern Oregon were raised to 70 mph in some areas and 65 mph in others today, Eliot Njus reports for The Oregonian. The limits went from 65 to 70 for passenger vehicles and from 60 to 65 for trucks on some interstates and US 95, and from 55 to 65 for passenger vehicles and to 60 for trucks on some other highways. Traffic engineers "are studying whether to increase some speed limits to 75 mph." (Oregon Department of Transportation map: Speed limit increases; click on it for a larger version)

"Safety advocates say raising speeds might amplify a recent increase in traffic fatalities," Njus writes. "The spike in road deaths comes as people are driving more in response to a stronger economy and lower gas prices, and the increase in Oregon was one of largest in the country.  Ken Kolosh, who heads the nonprofit National Safety Council's statistics department, told The Oregonian, "Even with safer automobiles, the increased speed does increase the severity of crashes when crashes do occur. The roads with higher speed limits are most at risk for fatal crashes. It's really just a question of physics." (Read more)

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