For all the controversy over the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit, evidence continues to indicate the cutback has been a substantial reason for drastically – reduced traffic fatalities. For the first time since Congress passed the 55-mph speed limit, the annual highway toll increased in 1976 – but the total was still far below the figures before the speed limit reduction. Nationally, the record shows: 1973, 55,511; 1974 (after the 55mph limit went into effect), 46,402 ; 1975, 46,000; and 1976, 47,100. For the state of Utah, look at the last six years, compiled by the Highway Patrol, shows these figures: 1971, 337 fatalities ; 1972, 383 ; 1973, 361 ; 1974 (first year under the reduced speed), 229 ; 1975, 275 ; and 1976, 254. Statistics weren’t immediately available for Utah County for the pre-55-mph period, but a Highway Patrol spokesman confirmed that accidents, personal injuries, and fatalities all dipped markedly here when the slower speed limit was introduced. Congress took the action as a measure to save fuel. Undoubtedly a cutback in miles traveled plus a new public awareness were factors in the fatality drop, along with the reduced speed. The National Safety Council reports that total estimated miles traveled by American drivers rose slightly in 1976 over 1975. This might be a possible contributing factor in the increased traffic deaths last year. All in all, it’s pretty hard to dispute the safety impact of the reduced speed limit. Whatever other factors may be involved, the record indicates a big improvement in the fatality record under the 55-mph limit – an impressive benefit to mankind anyway you look at it. Sc They Say ”There’s a pre-war feeling about a bankrupt town. All the bad guys leave ’cause they can’t rip it off. Everything is wonderful here at the moment – especially the theatre.” – Actress Joan Hackett, during a visit to New York City, wondering why she ever left it for Los Angeles.