Evaluation of Iowa’s 70 mph Speed Limit — 2.5 Year Update, 2009

(2009) Evaluation of Iowa’s 70 mph Speed Limit — 2.5 Year Update, 2009. Transportation, Department of


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On July 1, 2005, the State of Iowa implemented a 70 mile per hour (mph) speed limit on most rural Interstates. This document reports on a study of the safety effect of this change. Changes in speeds, traffic volume on and off the rural Interstate system (diversion), and safety (crashes) for on- and off-system roads were studied. After the change, mean and 85th percentile speeds increased by about 2 mph on rural Interstates, but speeding was reduced (the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph decreased from 20 per cent to about 8 per cent). Daytime and nighttime serious crashes were studied for a period of 14 and a half years prior to the change and 2 and a half years afterwards. Simple descriptive statistics reveal increases in all crash severity categories for the 2 and a half year period following the speed limit increase when compared to the most recent comparable 2 and a half year period prior to the increase. When compared to longer term trends, the increases were less pronounced in some severity levels and types, and for a few severity levels the average crash frequencies were observed to decrease. However, fatal and other serious cross-median crashes increased by relatively larger amounts as compared to expected random variation. The study also analyzed crash frequencies grouped into six-month periods, revealing similar findings.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Crash analysis, Crash severity, Highway safety, Rural highways, Speed limits
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Social impacts
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Research
ID Code: 20272
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 18 Aug 2015 18:18
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2015 18:18
URI: https://publications.iowa.gov/id/eprint/20272