A safety planner for the Iowa Department of Transportation says fatal accidents were up on rural interstates in the first six months of the new 70 mile-an-hour speed limit. Scott Falb keeps track of the numbers. He says last year there were 47 fatalities on rural interstates — the highest number since 1973 when there were 48 deaths and the speed limit was 75.
Falb says they can’t say for sure the increase in deaths was caused by the increased speed limit — but he says there’s a likely correlation. Falb says there’s not a direct link to speed and fatalities. He says they have to look at the data and see that when speed limits are higher, fatalities are higher, and when the limits are lower, the deaths are lower.
Falb says it’s a trend he wants to keep an eye on. Falb says he wants three years of data to make a stronger link and he says every year of data after that makes you more certain about your conclusions. Falb says traffic deaths in 2005 overall hit 450, up from 388 in 2004.