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AutoBlog: REPORT: Utah DoT admits higher speed limits has worked out to less speeding

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Filed under: Government/Legal

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When the Utah DOT raised the speed limit on two pieces of I-15 from 75 mph to 80 mph, it discovered that driving habits didn't change. When the limit was 75 mph, the Utah DoT found that drivers were going between 81 and 85 mph. And now that the maximum limit is 80 mph, it has found that drivers are going between 83 and 85 mph.

You can look at that as less speeding, as the UDoT has, or simply the fact that people didn't automatically start going 10 mph over the limit, having found a speed that satisfies 85% of them. This shouldn't be that surprising - even when Montana had stretches of highway with unlimited speeds, it was only a few folks, mostly out-of-staters, that raced at max velocity. And most folks on unlimited sections of the Autobahn aren't even going 150 mph.

According to the Deseret News, a UDoT official said that accidents haven't increased, either, nor did they expect an increase in fender benders. What he said has increased, though, is speed differential, which we don't quite understand. Apparently, the difference between the fastest and slowest vehicles has widened. We can only imagine he was speaking of the 2 mph difference between the slightly higher lower average speed of 83 mph vs the 81 mph from before. Even though one Utah legislator wasn't happy about the increased limit, saying speed kills, the proof appears to be... well, not necessarily.

[source: Deseret News | Image: Ken Lund via CC2.0]

REPORT: Utah DoT admits higher speed limits has worked out to less speeding originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Oct 2009 15:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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I think Utah is onto something important here. If the road allows for speeds up to 75-80 mph, then the speed limit should be that high as it is what people want to travel at.

On most rural highways there is not enough traffic to warrant using the fast lane at all times which helps greatly with people not choosing to go 80 staying in the slower lane.

In CA, where even I-5 is packed all the time, I don't think raising the speed to 80 would work out.

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There are some roads that just have a natural flow for a specific speed. There is a road near my house that is 25mph that has no business being that slow. 40mph is a more natural limit.

There are certain sections of the PA TPK where 65 is way too slow and others where it's too fast. I think they just picked 65 as an average.

edit: And doing a roadtrip on the PA TPK right after being able to do 130mph on the Autobahn is maddening!

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The pennapike has some scary low bridges too if you are in a truck.

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The pennapike has some scary low bridges too if you are in a truck.

It's been a while since you've been here. They've almost all been removed. There's been a 3 year project to replace all of the bridges going over the TPK.

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I think Utah is onto something important here. If the road allows for speeds up to 75-80 mph, then the speed limit should be that high as it is what people want to travel at.

On most rural highways there is not enough traffic to warrant using the fast lane at all times which helps greatly with people not choosing to go 80 staying in the slower lane.

In CA, where even I-5 is packed all the time, I don't think raising the speed to 80 would work out.

Hm, I've never had a problem flying up the grapevine.

Anyway, go to LA. Not during the worst of rush hour, but when the freeway is "full" but not jammed, you can still quite frequently go 75-80. No problem.

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They raised our interstate speed limits to 70 from 65 a few years ago, but most still seem to go 75-80. Over in Nebraska though, interstates are 75 and most do seem to go 75-78. I was out that way last weekend doing about 78 and very few passed me. I would say that 75-80 is a safe and comfortable speed for most; anything beyond that and your fuel economy is severely drained.

The only downside to high speed limits are the trucks also want to be going that fast, and there is nothing worse than a loaded truck barreling down the left lane and then slowing to 65 every time it has to go uphill.

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I wish that Ontario would end its disingenuity, the posted speed limit is 100 km/h (62 mph) but it has been revealed by several auto writers that the real limit that our police are told to ticket above is 117 km/h. I wish they would just change the limit to 120 km/h (75 mph) and enforce it.

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I wish that Ontario would end its disingenuity, the posted speed limit is 100 km/h (62 mph) but it has been revealed by several auto writers that the real limit that our police are told to ticket above is 117 km/h. I wish they would just change the limit to 120 km/h (75 mph) and enforce it.

I've seen the way Ontarioians drive. They should be handing all of you a set of keys to mopeds.

Edited by ShadowDog
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Some of this article is screwy...

When the Utah DOT raised the speed limit on two pieces of I-15 from 75 mph to 80 mph, it discovered that driving habits didn't change. When the limit was 75 mph, the Utah DoT found that drivers were going between 81 and 85 mph. And now that the maximum limit is 80 mph, it has found that drivers are going between 83 and 85 mph.

This part indicates speed differential went from 81-85 (4 mph) to 83-85 (2 mph)... therefore the speed differential narrowed, which is good... speed differential has long been considered the root cause of accidents in scientific studies.

According to the Deseret News, a UDoT official said that accidents haven't increased, either, nor did they expect an increase in fender benders. What he said has increased, though, is speed differential, which we don't quite understand. Apparently, the difference between the fastest and slowest vehicles has widened. We can only imagine he was speaking of the 2 mph difference between the slightly higher lower average speed of 83 mph vs the 81 mph from before. Even though one Utah legislator wasn't happy about the increased limit, saying speed kills, the proof appears to be... well, not necessarily.

This part is saying the speed differential has WIDENED... but that doesn't jive with the first part. Sounds like either the interviewer or the interviewee got confused.

In any light, this is good... I wish other states would raise limits to reasonable numbers. Even in the northeast, where roads are tighter and have much obsolesence... crashing into a concrete barrier at 70 is virtually as deadly as doing it at 80... regardless the 45 mph limit... but it would be nice to eliminate some of the 35 mph speed differential.

Of course, with the economy kicking states in the nuts, speeders are footing more of the state budget lately, and I don't think safety or fairness will ever trump greed in the political sphere.

Edited by SAmadei
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