Drivers Slow their Roll in Hopes of Saving Animal Lives

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Drivers Slow their Roll in Hopes of Saving Animal Lives

Sydney LaPine

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Park City’s Department of Transportation changed the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph on the stretch of SR 224 past the McPolin Farm, more commonly known as the White Barn, in early October.  They are aiming to reduce the number of animal and vehicle collisions.

 

Despite the new speed limit aiming to save animal lives, students at PCHS are frustrated with the change. 

 

“It’s pretty stupid, I don’t understand the point of it honestly, and it’s annoying and no one follows it,” said Senior Gabe Sherman.

 

Over the past five years, over 70 wildlife collisions, or about one per month have been recorded by the department of transportation, and that’s not including smaller incidents that didn’t get reported. 

 

Last January, two elk were victim to a car vehicle collision on the stretch.  They had to be cut-up in order to be transported away from the scene. The hope is that encouraging cars to travel more slowly, especially in the winter, will prevent any future collisions with Park City’s beloved wildlife. 

 

Phil Kirk, Park City’s Police Captain, said that law enforcement will be increasingly present on that stretch of highway to help ensure that drivers are mindful of the change. However, officers will be resorting mainly to warnings rather than tickets until drivers get used to the drop in the speed limit. 

 

Junior Brayden Drury has experienced the consequences of increased law enforcement on the stretch. 

 

“I got pulled over going 55 past the white barn on my way to school but I only got a warning,” said Drury. “It’s just a way for Park City Police Department to make more money off of speeding tickets, there seems to be no safety aspect of it.”

 

He also said that he thinks it would have been a smarter decision to build a fence on both sides of the road rather than reducing the speed limit. 

 

The 45 mph is consistent with the speed limit on the highway as drivers approach and leave the area near the barn, which should help drivers adjust. 

 

Despite the change affecting only a small section of the highway, students said that the change is causing them to be late to school.  

 

“I hate it because I have to leave my house earlier to go to school, it’s just inconvenient,” said Senior Annie Sunderland.

 

Many students are finding that community members are unwilling to comply to the reduced limit which creates conflict amongst drivers.

 

“It’s annoying when people drive past you, or honk, or drive right behind you because there’s a sign right there that says 45,” said Senior Savannah Volmrich. “I feel like most people drive the same speed anyway.” 

 

Senior Alyssa Garcia agreed with Volmrich. “I think it’s stupid because everyone, including me, goes 50 or like 60 on it and it makes everyone go slow which is irritating,” she said. 

 

Due to the open space on both sides of the road, which is home to farm animals, deer, elk and moose, officials think the change is worth the annoyance for drivers. 

 

The Department of Transportation first came to City Hall officials about potentially reducing the speed limit in spring of last year and are glad to see it finally changed.  

 

Some parents are also happy about the slower speed limit. 

 

“The speed limit is safe for students driving in icy conditions in the winter and it gives new student drivers more time to react to animals in the road,” said PCHS parent Samantha Ball. “The amount of force exerted on an animal from a car traveling at 45 mph is much less than the force exerted from a car traveling at 55mph.”