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Legislators Push to Extend Speed Limit to 75

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Washington lawmakers are pondering whether to increase the speed limit to 75 miles an hour on two stretches of Interstate 90. The two stretches include a 105-mile run from George east to the Spokane County line and 10 miles from Ellensburg east to mile post 120.

The bill received its first hearing late Monday afternoon (Monday) before the Senate Transportation Committee.

Shelly Baldwin from the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission testified a study done to support the state’s strategic traffic plan shows the faster drivers go, the more likely they are to be killed in an accident.

She says that was reinforced by a recent study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“They looked at the effect of raised speed limits from 1993 to 2013 in 41 states. The study concluded that for each five-mile-an-hour increase in speed limit, it results in a four-percent increase in fatalities," Baldwin said.

Captain Monica Alexander from the Washington State Patrol says her agency’s own studies support that finding. In 2015, 225 people from accidents on the state’s highways. That number increased to 240 in 2016.

No one testified for the bill.

This legislation comes two years after the legislature authorized the state transportation secretary to boost the speed limit to 75. After a study, the secretary chose not to do so. ?This version of the bill would take away the secretary’s authority to reduce the speed limit in the two segments.