Lower speed limit on WY 351 reduces crash rate
by Wyoming Department of Transportation
January 24, 2009
(Pinedale) – Aggressive enforcement of a reduced speed limit on an eight-mile section of WY 351 is proving to reduce the crash rate between milepost 4.5 and milepost 13.5, according to records.
In 2007, there were 22 traffic crashes reported between milepost 5 and milepost 13 on WY 351, with ten of those crashes resulting injuries to travelers and one fatality. According to Lt. Shawn Dickerson of the Wyoming Highway Patrol (WHP), Division T in Pinedale, many of the crashes resulted in hours of road closures, which affected both private and commercial travel and production in the area.
As the number of traffic crashes in the area began to increase, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) began researching a solution. WYDOT also received multiple letters from the public as well as a letter from the Sublette County Board of Commissioners requesting that some action be taken to reduce the number of traffic crashes on WY 351.
WYDOT Traffic Engineer Tory Thomas said the decision to reduce the speed limit was based on the type and amount of crashes in the area, as well as multiple engineering factors including minimum width, horizontal and vertical curvature, and narrow bridges. Taking all of these factors into consideration, WYDOT traffic engineers implemented a 55 mph speed zone between milepost 4.5 and milepost 13.5 on WY 351.
Since the implementation of the 55 mile per hour speed zone on WY 351 on Dec. 3, 2007, the WHP and the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office have taken a very aggressive stance on speed enforcement in that area. Citations issued in an area such as this with a reduced speed limit carry a stiffer penalty with significantly higher fines than a typical 65 mph speed zone. In 2008, WHP Troopers issued 464 speeding citations and 172 speeding warnings and Sheriff’s Deputies issued 157 speeding citations in that eight mile section of WY 351.
The combination of the lowered speed limit and the speed enforcement has resulted in a 77 percent reduction in the number of crashes on that section of WY 351. Compared to the 22 crashes in 2007, 2008 saw only five traffic crashes in that eight mile section of highway. Only one of those crashes resulted in personal injury.
A 77 percent reduction in traffic crashes saves lives, time, and money. This further demonstrates how WYDOT, which encompasses the WHP, is continually striving to fulfill its mission, "To provide a safe, high quality and efficient transportation system," said Dickerson.