Speed, safety

Kansas motorists should keep safety and gas consumption in mind when some speed limits rise next month.

On July 1, the speed limit will increase from 70 mph to 75 mph on many freeways in Kansas. Almost all of the Kansas Turnpike — from the Kansas-Oklahoma border to the Kansas Highway 7 junction in Wyandotte County — will be 75 mph, as will most of Interstates 70 and 35.

In all, 807 miles of roadway will have a 75 mph speed limit.

Proponents say the change will help commerce and tourism because truck traffic and vacationers will enjoy the higher speeds and the ability to arrive at their destinations more quickly.

The routes were picked by a task force made up of Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas Turnpike Authority officials. They decided to keep Kansas Highway 10 at 70 mph.

Legislation to raise the limits was passed and signed into law this year. The measure received little, if any, public opposition.

But two concerns remain, and it will be the responsibility of individual motorists to address them.

The first is safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cites studies that show states with increased speed limits also saw an increase in traffic fatalities. The slower the speed, the easier it is to react and avoid a collision.

Also, a 75 mph speed limit doesn’t mean you should drive 83 mph. It is a violation in Kansas to speed as little as 1 mph over the posted limit. However, speeding violations of 10 mph or less in 55 to 75 mph zones don’t go on a person’s driving record as a moving violation, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Second, driving faster costs more. If you are willing to drive 75 mph, know that each 5 mph over 60 mph is the equivalent of paying an additional 30 cents per gallon of gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

So, be a smart, safe and courteous driver. Enjoy the freedom to drive 75 mph, but be mindful of fuel consumption and safety as you watch the Kansas scenery fly by.