Washington Officials ‘Chicken Out’ on Higher Highway Speed Limits
Unlike Oregon, Washington state officials don't believe time saving benefits will offset potential safety issues, so I-90 speed limit won't be going up.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, raising the speed limit from 70 to 75 along a 100 mile stretch between George, WA and the Spokane County Line would supposedly result in 1.27 more serious or fatal crashes annually. The DOT announced Wednesday the speed limit will be staying put.
The DOT had debated making the change, much like Oregon, where a widespread speed limit increase in rural areas has gone into effect. On selected Oregon state highways, and certain stretches of the Interstate, some went from 55 to 60, others 60 to 65 and part of the Interstate in Eastern Oregon went from 70 to 75. Most of them were in Eastern and Central Oregon.
According to the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission (WSTSC), raising the limit on that 100 mile stretch would only save motorists about 5 minutes, and based upon the total traffic, a time money value of about $3.6 million-also annually.
They say that's not enough to offset the potential for even one more fatal crash. Much of the opposition to the ideas was based upon the WSTSC Target Zero program, which is aiming to reduce the number of fatalities on our highways and interstates to -0- by the year 2030.
Oregon officials did not report any such data or studies, but instead increased their limits because the roads were found to be more than able to handle the increased speeds. They also included input from many business owners who transport goods and services, often on lesser used rural highway stretches.