April 1st, 2013

Speed Limit Amendments

Optimize Mobility, Strengthen the Economy, Zero Fatalities, by Kristen Hoschouer.
Northbound I-15 near Paragonah 80 mph speet limit sign

Existing 80 mph zone on northbound I-15 near Paragonah. Photo taken by Ming Jiang of the Traffic and Safety Division.

A number of bills passed by the legislature this past session affect Utah roads and highways. One of these bills was HB 83: Speed Limit Amendments. This bill expands portions of I-15, I-80, and I-84 where the Utah Department of Transportation may establish a posted speed limit that exceeds 75 miles per hour. These sections of freeway include, portions of I-15 from Santaquin to St. George and from Brigham City to the Utah-Idaho border. Portions of I-80 potentially affected will be from Grantsville to the Utah-Nevada border and I-84 from Tremonton to the Utah-Idaho border.

If the Department of Transportation chooses to increase the speed limit in these sections the department will evaluate the results and impacts of increasing the speed limit and will report the findings of the evaluation to the Transportation Interim Committee no later than one year after the speed limit is posted.

This bill continues a process which began a number of years ago to evaluate some of Utah’s interstates to determine if there are areas that could appropriately accommodate speed limits above what is currently posted.

Opponents of this bill feared that with an 80 mile per hour speed limit there would be an increase in accidents and that drivers would increase their speed beyond 90 miles an hour. Through the studies conducted over the past few years the department has found that this is not the case.

Beginning in 2008, studies were conducted on portions of I-15, where the speed limit was increased from 75 to 80 mph. The studies concluded that most drivers preferred to drive between 82 and 83 mph regardless of the posted speed limit. Accident rates on these stretches of freeway were also studied and concluded that the increased speed did not affect the number of accidents or fatalities.

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Responses to “Speed Limit Amendments”

  1. I would say keep it 75 till south of Nephi working for UDOT in maintenance I’m not real fond of cars flying by at 80 mph while on the interstate working, 75 mph is fast enough.

    Brandon Warenski at April 1, 2013 11:41 am
  2. The way it is now, I think most drivers in Utah already think the speed limit is 80 mph…everywhere. When I’m going down the freeway at 65, I get blown away as cars pass me like I’m standing still.

  3. Was there any valid explanation to these amendments. 75mph is fast enough as it is. I’d say keep it at 75.

  4. I realize that there are stretches of highway that are remote and less traveled, potentially making them good candidates for speed limit increases. However, the increased braking time needed to stop at that rate of speed is worrisome. The additional braking time required to stop a vehicle may be the difference between striking a deer crossing the highway, avoiding a piece of debris, or recovering from a dangerous roadway condition.

  5. @Andrew Shipley: I couldn’t agree with you more.

  6. I am an auto mechanic and cars are more efficient and safer than they were 20 years ago Utah law requires 2 seconds of space behind motorists I go down there and there is always 8 seconds between everyone not to mention hitting big game at even 45 mph can kill you and still go through your windshield. If you drive 40 mph you will be a danger to other motorists and get a ticket for impeding traffic. Every time time we get in our cars and drive we accept the risk that we might end up at the morgue or seriously injured. If you don’t like that risk don’t drive.

  7. Robert Hull, UDOT Director of Traffic and Safety, provided the following details to help answer your question. “In 2008, the Utah Legislature passed a bill that allowed the Utah Department of Transportation to establish a speed limit higher than the statutory limit of 75 mph for rural interstate roadways in a section of I-15 in the southern half of the state. UDOT completed crash data analysis followed by speed studies on several sections of I-15. Speed studies were completed only on sections where there were no significant speed related crash history. The speed studies found that the majority of the drivers were traveling at a speed higher near 80 mph which is higher than the posted 75 mph. As a result, 80 mph sections were established and have been monitored for the last four years. As is mentioned in the post, drivers continued to travel around 80 mph and there was not an increase in the number of speed related crashes. For this reason the legislature expanded the areas where the speed limit could be studied and considered to be higher than the statutory 75 mph speed limit.”

  8. We drive north to Idaho frequently. We cannot encourage this enough. It would likely not change very much speed-wise (as Robert Hull via Becky Parker mentioned), but would decrease the stress of either traveling at the speed limit and being passed all the time or traveling about the speed limit and worrying about being pulled over.

    I highly recommend this change!

  9. In Montana, just a two way highway has 75 mph (65 mph at night) limits and track has lower speed limit. I felt it was just fine with my SUV. While I was driving SLC – Las Vegas, it was creasy to switch 65 – 75- 80 and 70 mph on the way. this is nice that most of the boring straightaway road is now 80mph. However, I would feel uncomfortable at night with low beam headlight at speed of 80+. This is because of possible deer jumping in front of me. I also wondering why the trucks are allowed 80mph. Another scary thought is that I am going 80 mph and slow car or mainly a truck going 65 suddenly makes lane change and jumps in front of you.

  10. 80 mph on I-70??? From Colorado, to the base of Spotted Wolf Canyon??? Perhaps the top of Spotted Wolf across the swell??? From the bottom of the western end of the swell to Sr-10 interchange??? From Salina to the south US-89 interchange??? The last 10 miles to I-15??? We all know that 40 miles of the Pickle Parkway (Sr-130 toll) in Texas from near Austin to I-10 is posted at 85 mph, including trucks!!!

  11. Why, for the life of me, do people want to drive that fast?!?!?! I thought the 65 mph speed limit on rural Interstates was the more sensible speed to travel. Are we in THAT much of a hurry?!?!?! And for WHAT??? A portion of Interstate 95 in Maine was raised to 75 mph, and I make it a point to avoid driving on that portion of the road.

    Anthony Orenstein at September 19, 2014 5:05 pm
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