It’s now up to Governor Gary Herbert now to decide if more of Utah highways should be considered for 80 mile per hour speed limits.
Senators voted Friday to send HB80 to Herbert for his signature. The bill already passed the House. It frees the Utah Department of Transportation to decide whether to open more of Utah’s 935 miles of Interstate highways to higher speed limits. Around 400 miles of Utah’s highways already allow drivers to go 80 miles per hour. Supporters say the legislation won’t mean more air pollution or fatal crashes. Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, says it’s what the public wants.
“I just want to say its been a fun bill to run,” said Jenkins, the bill’s Senate sponsor. “And it has been met with a tremendous outcry of happiness and appreciation from the public. I’ve had very few say we shouldn’t do it.”
The bill requires UDOT to study the engineering and safety of divided highways throughout the state before raising the speed limit.
Rolayne Fairclough represents AAA of Utah. She’s says drivers don’t save that much time with the higher speeds. But they do face increased risks.
“I just wanted to raise the awareness that 80 miles an hour is very fast,” she said after the bill passed. “We are the only other state besides Texas that raised our limit to 80 miles an hour, and when you have the higher speeds you have greater forces in a crash. So, the crashes are more severe and lead to more severe injuries and deaths.”
Democratic Senator Luz Robles of Salt Lake City cast one of four ‘no’ votes against HB80. She says the speed limit legislation should have been paired with a bill to enforce the state’s seat-belt law.