Freeway speed limit may increase to 80 mph in Utah

Posted at 6:23 PM, Sep 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-20 02:42:02-04

A study by the Utah Department of Transportation suggests raising the freeway speed limit from 75 to 80 miles per hour may be a good thing -- at least on some stretches of interstate.

When the speed limit went up on four stretches of road between Nephi and Cedar City, accidents went down by 20 percent, according to the three-year study by UDOT.

The findings were somewhat unexpected, but it appears drivers tend to comply to higher speed limits.

“Everyone naturally goes 75 to 80 miles an hour anyways. So it's that comfortable speed limit as most people drive on the freeway,” said driver Kyle Taylor.

The House Transportation Committee discussed its findings Wednesday and showed interest in putting more 80 mile per hour zones throughout the state.

“This was designed to be a test. Let’s see how it works and now it's time to perhaps take it to another level,” said Rep. James Dunningan, R-Taylorsville.

Not all 75 mile per hour zones are going to change to 80. UDOT is looking for ideal locations, specifically where it is straight and there is less chance of an accident.

"Maybe north on I-15 or I-80 out to the Wendover area," said Carlo Braceras, UDOT's deputy director. "So, it's kind of a wait and see what happens."

Rep. Dunnigan plans to present a bill this legislative session.