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Utah drivers' speeds keep creeping up

Utah drivers' speeds keep creeping up



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The snow might be slowing people down on the freeways Monday, but highway patrol troopers say Utahns keep pushing the gas pedal to see how fast they can go and not get a ticket.

UHP Sgt. Jeff Nigbur says over the past 10 years he's been on the job, he's noticed the speeds creeping up on Interstate 15.

"I think it just keeps going up a little bit more every year when it comes to the general public on the freeway," Nigbur says.

One of the latest speed studies was done in the recently wrapped up construction zone along I-80 through the Salt Lake Valley. It showed the average speed at 72 miles per hour, even with the speed limit posted at 55. Nigbur says in non-construction zones the average speed he sees is around 75 miles per hour where it's posted 65.

He says, "We can't have a trooper visible every couple of miles you go down the roadway. We really need the public's support and help, and also accountability in letting off that gas pedal and actually going the speed limit. A lot of people are going way too fast."

Nigbur says 55 people died in speed-related crashes in 2008 on Utah roads, and he says speed is one thing every driver has control over.

A Utah Highway Patrol safety report says for every 10 miles per hour over 50 miles per hour, the risk of death in a crash is doubled.

The highway patrol is also not keeping up with the population when it comes to troopers on the road. Nigbur says the manpower they have today is about the same as it was in the 1970s.

"Roadways have gotten bigger, population has increased and continues to increase," said Nigbur. "We're just doing the best job we can with the manpower we have.

The Utah Highway Patrol says speeding adds an element of danger to crashes in the following ways:

  • Magnifies drivers' errors;
  • Extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle;
  • Increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a situation;
  • Reduces a driver's ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway;
  • Decreases the effectiveness of vehicle design features, such as air bags and seat belts;
  • Reduces the stability of the vehicle structure;
  • Increases the number of crashes;
  • Increases the severity of crashes. For every 10 MPH over 50 MPH, the risk of death in a crash is doubled.

UHP wants to remind drivers that the speed limits are designed to protect everyone: drivers, passengers and pedestrians. The posted speed limit is the law. Slow down and obey speed limits.

E-mail: rjeppesen@ksl.com

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Randall Jeppesen

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