SALT LAKE CITY — The speed limit on two long stretches of interstate in the Top of Utah would be increased from 75 to 80 mph as part of an expansion of high-speed zones outlined in a measure approved by a House transportation committee Thursday.
The affected areas would include Interstate 84 from Tremonton to the Idaho border as well as Interstate 15 from Brigham City to the border of the Gem State.
State Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, a lieutenant with Utah Highway Patrol, recommended the areas be added to the new high-speed zones.
Other suggested high-speed zones include the possibility of expanding areas of I-15 south of Santaquin to the St. George border and an area of Interstate 80 west of Salt Lake City.
HB 83, sponsored by Rep. James Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, received a favorable recommendation from the committee and will now advance to the House for further review.
State officials implemented higher speed limits in 2009 in some areas along I-15 in Southern Utah and found that the higher speed zone didn’t necessarily translate to higher speeds or more dangerous driving.
Dunningan said 85 percent of the motorists in the affected area only raised their speed by an average of 1 mph. There have been no fatalities in the test area in four years, he said.
Carlos Braceras, deputy director with the Utah Department of Transportation, said the data showing no increase in accidents in the high-speed area over four years is an indication that UDOT’s criteria for selecting the high-speed zones is working.
He said officials closely monitor the numbers in the high-speed areas.
Michael Rapich, of UHP, said the higher speeds haven’t translated into more dangerous scenarios for drivers.
He said the way to increase safety on Utah highways is to get more people to buckle up. Approximately 10 percent of Utah drivers don’t use seat belts, he said, but 50 percent of the fatalities involve people not wearing their safety devices.
He did recommend that officials look at making seat belt use mandatory in high-speed areas.