At the August 30th Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) workshop, the concern regarding the current speed limits was brought up. Two ITD staff were explicit in stating this current Targhee Pass project did not include adjusting the speed limits. They went on to state that it has been shown that higher speed limits are actually safer.
This notion of higher speed limits being safer is based on the supposedly proven fact that no matter what speed limit is set, "human behavior" cannot be changed. The "human" will indeed continue to speed over the limit. The suggestion that if the speed limit was set lower then the "human" would speed above that but be more in line with a lower speed was rejected. According to ITD staff that doesn't work, which isn't necessarily correct. Well if that were true, then why set speed limits at all. Why not set limits to 100 since the "human" ignores the limit anyway?
But the truth is, higher speed limits result in more injuries and deaths. Research proves this, and ITD uses nothing but "best practices" and statistics to validate their decisions. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2016, "...increases in speed limits over two decades have cost 33,000 lives in the U.S. In 2013 alone, the increases resulted in 1,900 additional deaths...". IIHS also states crashes are more likely because of time it takes to slow down or stop, making collisions more deadly.
Idaho raised the speed limit to 80 mph in 2014. According to ITD's own report in 2015, crashes and injuries increased from that point in time (pgs 9-12). That is just one year of data. There is no association between increased speed limits and crashes? Of course there is. Fatalities increased 16.1%. Their own report states, "...higher average speeds tend to increase the number of fatalities and injuries." Did the two ITD staff even read their own reports?
Another question was raised about methods to thwart excessive speeding. Again, according to ITD, none of them really work, you can't change "human behavior". However, there are more methods used than people realize, radar, laser, VASCAR, aerial, and speed cameras. Statistics show these various methods can be successful. There are cities that use some of these methods, why can't Island Park create a similar ordinance?
In spite of their claim that the Idaho Transportation Board (ITB) sets speed limits, and it takes so much time to do the proper studies for submission to ITB, this is not completely accurate. It is the Idaho state legislature that defines how the ITB performs their duties, and it was the legislature who actually created legislation this year that gave us the ability to increase our speed by 15 mph when passing. Scary thought, from 80 mph to an allowed 95 mph to pass on freeways, or even from 70 mph to 85 mph on highways. The federal government can even play a role in setting speed limits.
ITD has forgotten they are state employees, hired by state departments which were created to represent us. When the community is stating they want slower speed limits it is ITD's obligation to listen and do what is necessary to comply with the citizens, it is not the other way around. Get a clue ITD, research shows higher speed limits are dangerous and certainly do not contribute to reductions in wildlife vehicle collisions or the destruction caused by them. Include lower speed limits in your arsenal of solutions instead of overpasses.
Contact your state representative, the ITD, and both Senate and House Transportation Committees, and advise them that a lower speed limit is requested and needed in Island Park.
Sign the Petition to stop all wildlife overpasses in Island Park on Hwy 20. If you are using a mobile device the link has not been working, please try on a PC, laptop, or iPad. It might also be affected by a weak wifi connection, try again with a stronger connection.
"...if they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population".
This is a quote from old Scrooge himself in the classic tale, A Christmas Carol, published in 1843. It is the story of a wealthy, miserly man who comes to the realization that life is a gift. Questions about the world being overpopulated have existed for decades, even 174 years ago when this book was written.
The initiatives, which are the driving force behind getting wildlife overpasses built, are very focused on the world being overpopulated, expressing concern about the numbers being several billion higher in just a few short years. That is part justification for scrambling to place very piece of dirt and animal into conservation for "future generations", restricting growth, and controlling land use. But they haven't thought of anything unique when it comes to overpopulation, that fear previously existed with other individuals.
One such individual was Thomas Malthus (1766-1834). "He argued that increases in population would eventually diminish the ability of the world to feed itself and based this conclusion on the thesis that populations expand in such a way as to overtake the development of sufficient land for crops." Initiatives, NGOs, and other individuals believe the same, development will overtake the land and must be stopped for wildlife survival, but not food production.
This is predicated on the belief that survival of wildlife is under pressure from land development by humans which necessitates placing as much land as possible into some form of conservation for the wildlife. For land that is already developed and not in conservation status, restrictive regulations must be put into place to protect remaining land from further development and force humans to use current developed land as if it were in conservation status.
The caveat here is Malthus was warning about potential famine, land would not be available for crops, while the current agenda is taking land for wildlife preservation. At what point will this thesis spread to the idea that land for wildlife cannot be used for human food production? Or that wildlife itself cannot be used for food by humans? If their prediction is true, that humans will continue to force wildlife out of their habitat unless it is conserved, what concerns are expressed over the loss of that land to food production? Cattle have long been targeted for elimination, reduced grazing, and alleged contribution to climate change. Farmers have also been impacted in their ability to grow crops.
Overpopulation has been an irrational fear by an infinitesimal number of individuals over time, each having their own twist on solutions. If we were to believe Malthus, we would have all starved to death by now. Just as the current population has not expanded to the point of overtaking land for crops, land development has not taken over wildlife in Island Park either. The Island Park community should make decisions about their own land regarding wildlife, and not base those decisions on the earth's assumed overpopulation in 20 years as do the initiatives.