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October 28, 1942 – Utah imposes Patriotic Speed Limit

During WWII Americans were subject to many rations, which included gasoline and rubber, making it nearly impossible to get new tires. In an effort to reduce consumption the State of Utah imposed a “Patriotic Speed Limit” of 35 mph on this day in 1942, following a call by the federal government for a nationwide “Victory Speed Limit” of the same speed the previous May. The lower speed limit helped reduce tire wear and save gasoline. It was found that a vehicle tires wore half as fast when traveling at 35 mph opposed to 60 mph.

The speed limits were imposed for safety reasons as well, since new tires could not be distributed. A study by the National Safety Council, in conjunction with the Utah Highway Traffic Advisory Committee, found that 46 percent of cars driven by war workers had at least one tire with one tread worn smooth and 11 percent had at least three bald tires. There was a 5 percent increase in motor vehicles in Utah from 1941 to 1943, yet there was a significant decrease in accidents and auto related injuries, which is attributed to the lower speeds increasing highway safety. Accidents decreased 35 percent from 1941 to 1943 in Utah and fatalities dropped by nearly half.

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