UDOT considers more 80 mph zones

Posted at 8:07 PM, Apr 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-02 00:00:18-04

GRANTSVILLE, Tooele County -- The Utah Department of Transportation is looking at expanding zones where it can increase the speed limit from 75 to 80 miles per hour.

The Utah State Legislature recently approved a bill allowing for a series of zones to become permanent, as well as expanding them in other places around the state. UDOT began a study on Monday to place more zones on rural parts of I-15, I-80 and I-84.

The areas under consideration, UDOT said, are on I-80 from Grantsville to Wendover, on the Utah-Nevada border; I-84 from Tremonton to the Utah-Idaho border; I-15 from Brigham City to the Utah-Idaho border; and I-15 from Santaquin to Parowan.

"We'd only do it in a situation that would make sense: flat, straight roadways," said UDOT spokesman John Gleason.

When the legislature debated the issue, opponents suggested it might lead to an increase in speed-related crashes. UDOT had experimental 80 mph zones near Scipio, Cove Fort, Kanosh and Paragonah.

"In those three years we've conducted those studies, we haven't seen an increase in speed-related accidents or fatalities," Gleason said. "It's actually been the opposite. There have actually been less fatalities and less speed-related crashes."

UDOT said one reason for that is most people tend to psychologically feel comfortable going no faster than 82 or 83 miles per hour.

UDOT will begin studying the issue and present it to the Utah State Legislature in the interim before deciding whether or not to make the new 80 mph zones permanent.