Orem City Raises Speed Limits on Four Roads

Orem City Raises Speed Limits on Four Roads

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OREM, Utah (AP) -- What's a city to do when some motorists just insist on obeying speed limits while everyone else wants to go faster?

Orem is dealing with its non-scofflaws by raising speed limits on four roads -- but just on a trial basis. They will see if the speeding majority will be content with the new limits or will go even faster.

City officials say the law-abiding drivers -- whom they dubbed "grand marshals" -- incite road rage and reckless driving.

Councilman Stephen Sandstrom cited 800 East as an example.

"If you go 25 mph (the speed limit), cars start backing up behind you. Eventually, someone will just punch it and drive around you," he said, adding that he saw two young pedestrians narrowly escape injury in one such incident.

The council agreed to raise speed limits by up to 10 mph on sections of 800 East, 1600 North, 1200 West and 400 North.

Chris Tschirki, Orem transportation engineer, said 85 percent of traffic on those streets has been driving at or below the new speeds.

City officials said the current speed limits are artificially low and nationwide studies show raising them will not increase speeds and will make the roads safer.

Keeping the existing limits not only incites rage but also disrespect for the law, they said.

"We are sending a mixed message because the speed limits are posted, but police are not citing drivers unless they exceed the 85th percentile," Tschirki said.

Some residents disagreed.

"There's not any doubt that if you increase the posted speeds, that you will increase the speeds," resident James Taylor said.

To see if the traffic experts are right, the speed limits will be increased on a nine-month trial basis starting Sept. 15.

If actual speeds increase more than 3 mph during the trial, the council will take corrective action.

The city also will install traffic-calming devices in school zones at three elementary schools on the four streets.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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