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MN Speed Limits Could Be Going Up - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

MN Speed Limits Could Be Going Up

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For those tired of speed limits slowing you down, we have some promising news for you.  Minnesota leaders are considering increasing as many as 6,000 miles of state highway speed limits. It's a modest increase, but as Valley News team's Eric Crest reports many welcome the potential change.

It was just last year when Minnesota state highways 59 and 75 jumped from 55 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour. Sure it's just a modest hike but people noticed.

"I actually thought it was all right. When it was 55 no one drove 55 anyway's so it was nice to see it match what everyone was driving," says Josh Kain who lives just off of highway 59 in Detroit Lakes.

But today the Department of Transportation is going to begin looking at the other six thousand miles of state highway in predominately rural areas. To see if those limits should be increased too.

"We actually go out with radar devices and take 50 different shots at different locations to find out what (speed) people are actually driving," says MN DOT Traffic Engineer Tom Swenson.

MN DOT will look at crash data, average speed and geography of a location to determine whether the speed should be increased by five miles per hour within the next five years.

"In most communities where the speeds were already reduced from 55 miles per hour I don't expect anything to change there. They were reduced for a reason," adds Swenson.

But some who frequent the recently changed highways say an increased speed helps the traffic move along. Plus it makes a busier road safer.

"You got one person going 55 and everybody trying to go 60. And having that 2 mile long stretch. Now everything is stretched out," says Kain.

But not everyone sees an increase in speed as a way to make roads safer. One study out of Indiana found that when the speed limit jumped from 55 to 65 miles per hour. The fatality rate from car crashes increased about 24 percent.

"If you have a speed limit closer to what they want to drive they're less likely to pass. And a passing maneuver be unsafe too. If speeds are too low you run the risk of more people passing which might not generate a good result. But by in large I don't expect a big change from a safety stand point," says Swenson.

A rough estimate of the study and change of speed limits on state highways could cost Minnesota as much as $700-thousand dollars. It will take about five years before that money is spent and the study is complete.
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