Our Northwest

Idaho may lift speed limit to 80 mph

Friday, March 14, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane reports that the speed limit on some stretches of Interstate 84 in southern Idaho could jump to 80 mph.
   That's crazy, I thought, knowing that statistics show increased fatalities accompany higher speeds. Yet I learned that Utah freeways already allow 80 mph. In fact, Utah studies showed that motorists drove 82 to 84 mph on I-15 regardless of whether the speed limit was 75 or 80.
   "People are driving at the speed at which they feel comfortable, and they're doing it safely and prudently," said the director of Utah's Department of Transportation.
   I was unaware of Utah's 80-mph limit. But I did recall reading in 2012 about Texas setting a limit of 85 mph on a stretch of freeway between Austin and San Antonio, and remote freeways in western Texas are set at 80 mph.
   So I dug around a little and learned that, aside from our Pacific Coast states, the Western U.S. observes 75-mph speed limits, except for Utah's 80-mph limit. Idaho already drives at 75 mph. Washington and California observe 70 mph, while Oregon remains the lone Western state with a 65-mph limit.
   Idaho's House narrowly passed the 80-mph legislation on a 34-31 vote. The measure now rests with the governor. Read the Spokesman-Review article.

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