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The winners and the losers

Published: Saturday, Feb. 2 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Motorists drive along an 80 mph section of I-15 south of Nephi on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Winner: Weber State University enrolled its youngest student ever last fall, 15-year-old Jessica Brooke. As profiled in the Deseret News this week, Brooke has her sights set on a career in medicine, and she doesn't let her young age deter her from learning and competing with classmates. Her success is an example of how public school systems should allow students to move on when ready, not requiring them to sit through a certain amount of class time. A native of Arizona, Brooke skipped the eighth grade and all of high school, enrolling in a community college at age 12. She came to Weber State because the school offered her a scholarship. It seems the only thing her age has kept her from obtaining is a driver's license.

Winner: State lawmakers seem to have caught the spirit of higher speed limits through Utah's less populated stretches. A bill making its way through the House would add several 80 mph stretches to Interstate highways in Utah. Parts of I-15 through central Utah already are posted at 80 mph, with little affect on safety. Modern highways are built for safe travel at such speeds. Motorists tend to drive fast through these stretches anyway. Why not make it official?

Loser: While we're on the subject of highway speeds, a statement by the Utah Highway Patrol this week has us a little confused. Officials said troopers will keep an eye out for people driving too slowly in the fast lane. Even if someone comes behind them, clearly speeding, the slower driver has an obligation to move over and let the speeder pass. This is true even if the slower driver is, in fact, driving the speed limit. Tailgating can lead to crashes, or to incidents of road rage. Officials said troopers will begin pulling over the slower drivers and lecturing them about this. But ... what about the speeders and the tailgaters? Don't they deserve a lecture, or worse, too?

Loser: The concept is a good one: Send Amber Alerts about abducted children to every cell phone in the vicinity, giving authorities thousands of extra eyes on the lookout. But so far the idea hasn't worked so well. An Associated Press story this week says alerts in several states have sent high-pitched squeals to cell phones, whose users were startled and confused. The alerts themselves were missing information, such as license plate numbers or descriptions, that could help people know what to look for. The worry is that people will ask their providers to opt out of this system or just begin to ignore the alerts (hard to do if they come in the middle of the night). The alerts are coordinated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Perhaps officials there should retreat for awhile until they work out some of the bugs.

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