Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Utah proposes raising more speed limits to 80; studies show increases lead to more fatalities

Utah Department of Transportation photo
The Utah Department of Transportation has proposed raising speed limits on more rural highways to 80 miles per hour, Lee Davidson reports for The Salt Lake Tribune. In other areas limits would be raised from 65 to 75 mph for all vehicles except large trucks.

Robert Miles, UDOT director of traffic and safety, said agency conducted studies in proposed areas "show that 85 percent of motorists often are traveling faster than the posted limit," Davidson writes. He said lower speed limits leads to safety concerns with faster cars trying to maneuver around slower cars, while higher speed limits will lead to more traffic traveling at similar speeds and increase safety.

Reports show that when Utah previously raised speed limits highway fatalities increased, Davidson writes. Miles said the increased deaths were not from highways, but "occurred on arterial roads and city streets," not freeways.

An April report by by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) showed that nationally increasing speed limits led to 33,000 traffic deaths from 1993 to 2013, including 1,900 deaths in 2013. Utah has some of the nation's highest speed limits. In 2014 Utah has 222 fatal crashes leading to 256 deaths, 125 of them in rural areas, according to IIHS. (IIHS map: Highest speed limits, as of January 2013)

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