UDOT Learns Narrow Lanes Save Lives, Proceeds to Install Wide Lanes

Almost as soon as UDOT finished widening the freeway and raising speed limits it discovered that exactly the opposite approach reduces serious accidents and fatalities.

A traffic jam on I15 in Salt Lake County.

A traffic jam on I15 in Salt Lake County. This traffic jam appeared to have been caused by a serious accident.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, serious accidents and fatalities went down during the recent massive construction projects:

Commissioner J. Kent Millington asked if serious accidents were reduced because people had to drive more slowly with construction.

“I think they drove more carefully because of more narrow lanes, and cars were closer together,” [UDOT engineer Ahmad] Jaber said.

Jaber’s statement is correct, though its so reserved and half-hearted that he seems not to have really accepted the lesson: narrower lanes force cars to travel more slowly, and slower cars produce fewer fatalities. (For additional reading, check out this page from the federal DOT.)

(It’s possible that Jaber had more to say but that his comments were edited out by the paper. I wasn’t at the press conference so I can only go on what’s printed.)

In any case, the ironic thing is that the construction zone existed in the first place so more cars could eventually travel faster in bigger lanes. So, in other words, the safer conditions were created in order to bring about more dangerous conditions. And the evidence indicates that more people are going to die as a result of this illogical approach to transit design.

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