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Letter: 80 mph zones unsafe, unclean
First Published Feb 07 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Feb 07 2014 01:01 am

Lee Davidson appropriately raises the question of safety in 80 mph zones, which would be expanded under HB80 ("UDOT testimony wrong about no fatalities in 80 mph zones," Tribune, Feb. 5).

An equally important concern is the amount of carbon dioxide that would be released by vehicles driven at higher speeds. Are legislators aware that beyond 55-60 mph, driving faster speeds spews more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? Do they care that the heat-trapping effect of this greenhouse gas lasts 100 years or more?

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How much more carbon dioxide would drivers release in Utah going 80 mph vs. 70 mph?

The Federal Highway Administration reported that in 2011, vehicles went 9.2 billion freeway miles in Utah. If 20 percent of those miles are driven at 80 mph, these cars would consume 14 percent more gasoline, and spew 227,718,400 more tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, compared to 70 mph.

Most states set their maximal speed limit at 65-70 mph. Except for a few counties in Texas, Utah is the only state with 80 mph speed limits. What is the hurry? Is heating up the planet worth the half-hour we save driving from Salt Lake City to St. George?

David S. Folland, M.D.


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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