A Utah Senate panel has approved a bill that includes
provisions to allow drivers to travel faster and more safely.
The Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and
Technology Committee voted 5-0 to approve a bill that would increase the speed
limits by 5 mph on state highways and interstates.
Truckers and others traveling on rural interstates and other
limited access routes would be cleared to drive 80 miles per hour - up from the
current 75 mph limit. The speed limit along urban interstates and other roads
would increase from 65 mph to 70 mph.
Another provision in the bill is intended to combat
aggressive driving on multi-lane highways by keeping most motorists out of the
far left-hand lane. Large trucks already are restricted to the right lanes of
highways that have at least three lanes of traffic traveling in the same
The proposed change to state law would require vehicles
traveling in the left lane to move right, when practical, when they are about
to be overtaken by another vehicle.
Sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, the bill also
would require that people traveling on highways adopt a two-second rule.
Jenkins wrote in the bill that drivers must "follow at a
distance so that at least two seconds elapse before reaching the location of
the vehicle directly in front of the operator's vehicle."
It also would require that drivers preparing to turn right
or left must signal their intentions for at least two seconds. Existing law
requires a three-second heads up for other drivers.
One other provision in the bill is intended to address the
increasing problem of distracted driving. It would create a new category of
tickets for "careless" driving. Any person found guilty of two or more moving
violations or one moving violation while being distracted by one or more
activities not related to the operation of the vehicle would be considered to
be driving carelessly.
The bill lists five examples of distracting activities while
driving. They include using cell phones, eating, drinking or applying makeup.
Jenkins' bill - SB17 - is headed to the Senate floor for
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor