When Rep. Brian Gosch snuck the 80-mile-an-hour speed limit into the 2015 $85-million road tax hike, I pointed to research that suggested higher speed limits mean higher highway death rates. Early but limited data last year suggested to Seth Tupper that higher speed limits had indeed coincided with more fatal wrecks.
Now Jonathan Ellis looks at 2016 data and finds tickets up 45% but fatalities still going down:
The number of speeding tickets issued by state troopers has risen sharply since the new speed limit went into effect. In the nearly two years before the speed limit increase, troopers wrote 12,585 speeding tickets on interstates and state highways. In the same period following the April 1, 2015 increase, they wrote 18,227 citations, according to an… analysis [by that Sioux Falls paper] of speeding data….
Nationally, highway traffic deaths were up in 2016 for the second year in a row, according to the National Safety Council. But South Dakota has gone the other direction, even with the increase to 80 mph on much of the state’s interstate system. Fatalities last year were down to 115, the lowest since 2011 and the second lowest since 1960. As recently as 2003, there were more than 200 reported fatalities in the state [Jonathan Ellis, “Speeding Tickets Surge After Change to 80 MPH Limit,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.03.24].
So maybe 80 is o.k…. or maybe I’ve just adopted Brian Gosch’s own bias as I enjoy the three-hour run from Aberdeen to Sioux Falls. But keep your eyes on the road, if not for me, then for Smokey and his itchy ticket finger!