Rural Minnesota drivers praise speed limit hike, safety experts worry

Many rural drivers are applauding Minnesota for pushing the speed limit to 60 mph on most two-lane state highways, a move that's also been met with criticism from road safety experts.

Posted: Jan 25, 2019 2:44 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Many rural drivers are applauding Minnesota for pushing the speed limit to 60 mph on most two-lane state highways, a move that's also been met with criticism from road safety experts.

More than two-thirds of rural highways slated for the increase have already posted the new limit, and the rest should be completed this year, according to state traffic officials. Rural residents pushed for the change, but some national safety experts fear the 5 mph bump will lead to more fatalities, the Star Tribune reported.

"Raising the speed limit never comes without a cost," said Russ Rader of Virginia-based nonprofit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Rader said raising the speed limit reduces a driver's ability to quickly brake and survive a crash. Rural two-lane roads are more risky because of hazards including ditches and trees, Rader said.

People often drive faster than the posted speed limits, said Kara Macek of the Governors Highway Safety Association, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

"It's the buffer zone," she said. "People don't think they're going to get caught if they drive 5 or 10 miles over the speed limit."

The Minnesota Department of Transportation examined roadway geometrics and hazards along 7,000 miles (11,260 kilometers) of rural, two-lane state highways before determining where the 55 mph speed limit could be increased, according to a five-year study released this week.

When the speed limit was 55 mph, Minnesota traffic officials found that people frequently drove between 63 mph and 65 mph, said Brad Estochen, a state traffic safety engineer. With a 60 mph speed limit, people often drove between 64 mph and 66 mph, he said.

The change merely decriminalizes what people were already doing, said Republican Sen. Torrey Westrom, who pushed for the speed limit increase.

"No one liked the idea that they were breaking the law and being subject to expensive tickets," he said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12456787
Ramsey4911228
Dakota238291
Stearns237119
Anoka2241109
Nobles16696
Olmsted112915
Washington111440
Mower9522
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Clay58738
Kandiyohi5731
Blue Earth4792
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Todd4012
Carver3811
Sherburne3175
Lyon3162
Freeborn2920
Watonwan2340
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Benton2173
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Martin1695
Nicollet16912
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Goodhue1318
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Pine1050
Le Sueur1031
Chisago1001
Otter Tail951
McLeod920
Carlton870
Dodge870
Polk822
Chippewa791
Unassigned7837
Isanti730
Waseca680
Douglas650
Itasca6412
Murray640
Meeker611
Morrison591
Becker560
Faribault560
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pipestone522
Pennington510
Renville352
Mille Lacs342
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Brown312
Rock310
Beltrami300
Fillmore300
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Houston260
Swift221
Wilkin213
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Redwood180
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Big Stone150
Koochiching151
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Kanabec141
Grant120
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Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen91
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Hubbard70
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 31670

Reported Deaths: 722
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6638179
Woodbury325244
Black Hawk230158
Buena Vista171411
Johnson13148
Linn129482
Dallas128029
Marshall104919
Scott81510
Story7793
Pottawattamie73612
Wapello70830
Dubuque70222
Crawford6772
Muscatine64344
Sioux4770
Tama46529
Wright3861
Louisa36213
Jasper32517
Plymouth3225
Warren2901
Dickinson2663
Washington2439
Webster2292
Hamilton1891
Cerro Gordo1821
Boone1481
Clay1340
Clarke1322
Allamakee1314
Mahaska11617
Shelby1140
Clinton1121
Poweshiek1068
Carroll991
Pocahontas971
Bremer946
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Franklin900
Emmet880
Henry863
Cedar841
Taylor790
Hardin770
Monona770
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Floyd732
Marion700
Benton691
Guthrie664
Jefferson640
Sac640
Osceola620
Jones610
Butler572
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Humboldt551
Hancock540
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