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.