Pedal to the metal: higher speed limits in Utah


Next time you get in the car, buckle up because drivers might be speeding up, and it won’t be illegal. A legislative subcommittee unanimously voted for more 80 MPH speed limit test zones.

“We’re not increasing speed just for the fun of it,” said Representative Jim Dunnigan, who is leading the legislation. “You know, Utah is a big state. It’s a long state. By the time you travel from North to South in Utah you may have traveled through two or three or four Eastern seaboard states.”

UDOT is making their current I-15 test zones between Scipio and Fillmore permanent. The proposal wants to add test zones on I-80 out to Wendover and I-15 and I-84 in Northern Utah.

While some might wonder about the safety of higher speeds, one study showed that drivers were less likely to put their pedal to the medal past eighty miles an hour. The study found that Utah drivers typically drove around 80 MPH no matter what the speed limit was.

“We have had a series of speed studies over multiple years,” said David Hull, UDOT Director of Safety. “Speeds have remained constant. Even though we’ve raised the speed limit, speeds have remained about the same.”

The studies also found that there were up to twenty percent less accidents and fatalities in the zones.

“People kind of have their own comfort level or their own built-in speed limit,” said Dunnigan. “Even if you told them they could travel a hundred miles an hour, many people would not do that because they’re just not comfortable.”

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