70 mph limit blamed in increase of Iowa highway deaths

Highway deaths are on the rise in Iowa since the state raised its speed limit from 65 mph 70 mph in 2005, the Des Moines Register reports.

State records show that fatalities on rural interstates have increased 10 percent even as the number of traffic deaths on the rest of the Iowa’s road network have dropped to levels not seen since World War II.

An aide from the office of Gov. Terry Branstad told the Register there are no plans to change the limit, but the chief of the Iowa State Patrol says it is working with planners at the Department of Tansportation to target problem areas for enforcement, an effort hampered by budget cuts have trimmed the number of troopers from 455 in 2000 to 396 today.

According to the Register, a 2009 report from the American Journal of Public Health found that since the 1995 repeal of the national speed limit, deaths related to higher speed limits increased 3 percent nationwide and 9 percent on kind of rural interstates cited in the Iowa statistics.

Senior vice president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Russ Rader told the Register, “the bottom line is that when speed limits go up, deaths go up. When speed limits go down, deaths go down,” Rader said.