PROVO, Utah (AP) — Utah transportation officials say traffic-related deaths have risen this year but newly raised speed limits are not the cause.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1KhZNvk) that Utah Department of Transportation officials are confident speed limit changes are not why traffic fatalities are up by 5 percent.
UDOT increased the limit on interstates last December to 70 mph and put up 80 mph speed limits in some rural areas.
The Utah Highway Patrol and AAA travel services companies were among those who initially argued the increases would lead to more crashes and injuries.
UDOT spokesman Jason Davis said late last week that not wearing seatbelts and distracted driving are the biggest contributing factors.
“We’re seeing increases on the lower-speed local collector roads and city streets,” he said.
A state law which makes failure to use a seatbelt a primary offense went into effect in May.
“We continue to see the lack of seat-belt use as a large contributor,” he said. “If folks were belted in on some of those — not all of them — they would be walking away or going home that evening instead of having to stay in a hospital or worse.”
The state also has a two-year-old law banning people from manipulating a phone by hand while driving, including changing music, dialing and texting.
Last year, a bill that would have banned drivers from using cell phones entirely failed in the Legislature.