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Update: Off Again/On Again - Higher Speed Limits in Idaho to 80 MPH Scheduled for August

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New laws adopted by the Idaho Legislature were due to take effect in Idaho increasing the speed limit in certain rural areas to 70 mph for truckers and 80 mph for passenger cars on I-84, I-86 and I-15, however, shortly before the laws were to go into effect, the Idaho Transportation Department (IDT) announced a decision to delay the implementation of that decision. Last Friday, the IDT reversed itself and decided to go forward with implementing the plan to increase highway speeds on the interstate from 75 mph to 80 mph on sections of I-84, I-86 and I-15.

Accordingly, the current 75 mph speed limits in place will remain in effect until the IDT implements the installation of new speed limit signs increasing the speed to 80 mph which is now scheduled to commence sometime in August.

There has been considerable debate regarding whether the increase in speed limits will result in an increase in the number of injuries and fatalities in Idaho as a result of the increase in the speed limit on the highway. A vehicle traveling at 80 mph is traveling at a speed of 117.336 feet per second; a semi-truck traveling at 75 mph is traveling at a speed of 100.0025 feet per second. As such, as of July 1, a passenger car will be able to travel legally the distance of a football field in just 2.56 seconds; a semi-truck traveling at 75 mph in 2.73 seconds. That’s right. In less than 2 3/4 seconds, trucks and other traffic will be driving distances of approximately the size of a football field in the time it takes to sneeze or yawn and refocus a driver’s attention on the road.

The faster a driver decides to drive, the less time the driver has to respond to a hazard on the road whether the hazard is created by road or weather conditions or another vehicle changing lanes. The fact is the faster a vehicle is going down the highway, the less time the driver has to react to hazards existing on the road. Driving faster increases the risk of harm to oneself and to others.

So why did the Idaho legislature decide to compromise the public safety in making the collective decision to increase highway traffic speeds to 80 mph? The answer lies in the hands of the lobbyists and the corporate clients they work for and the legislators who succumb to the special interests who stand to benefit from this legislation. After all, time is money, and the faster a trucker is able to drive, the more money the trucking company makes. Also, insurance companies hope to reduce liability they incur by claiming that their insured drivers that are driving within the speed limit and should be exonerated from the consequences they create. But driving the speed limit alone doesn’t exonerate a driver from driving inattentively, following another vehicle too closely or the consequences of driving on an icy road and losing control of the vehicle so says the Idaho Appellate Courts.

Another factor to consider as you are driving on Idaho highways is that the faster one drives, the greater the consequences once impact occurs. The faster you drive, the harder you hit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated the economic cost to society for speeding-related crashes at $40.4 billion a year, $76,865 per minute, or $1,281 every second. Notwithstanding the cost associated with high speed related crashes, those seeking higher speed limits contend that people want higher speed limits. Regardless of the motive, higher speed limits are here to stay in Idaho for the time being. But, consider this, the speed in which you choose to drive remains up to each individual driver. Driving responsibly is the choice every driver has when getting behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle.

Understanding the risks associated with driving at high speeds may make a driver reflect upon the choices the driver has rather than just getting into the cab of the vehicle and putting the pedal to the metal. Accidents are for the most part caused by the decisions of one or more drivers. Bad choices are the source of dire consequences. People who drive negligently and create harm to others should not escape personal responsibility for the choices and decisions they make. Higher speed limits do not exonerate drivers from personal responsibility for inattentive driving or violation of other safety standards.

IF you or a loved one have been injured as a result of the negligence of another, you should contact an experienced trial attorney for a free initial consultation. Boise Personal Injury and Auto Accident Attorney Alan Morton has over 31 years of experience in helping victims of personal injury and auto accidents in seeking compensation for personal injuries and wrongful death due to auto and truck accidents. Mr. Morton is available to meet with you at his office or your home, workplace, hospital or any other convenient location to discuss your legal rights and remedies or answer any questions you may have. You may contact Mr. Morton at 208.344.5555 or toll free at 888.716.8021 or by completing the online contact form. Mr. Morton has operators standing by 24/7 to take your call. Do not hesitate to give him a call. You may also wish to review the testimonials of his former clients at http://www.mortonlawyers.com/testimonials.cfm. Mr. Morton understands your concerns and fears and is available to discuss any question or concern you may have to help you better understand your legal rights and remedies.

Category: Auto Accidents

Alan Morton
Advocate for Justice/Trial Lawyer

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