Any time speed limits are raised, it should be based on good information from studies and other investigations rather than on emotion or politics, the president of the National Safety Council said Friday.

The 55-mph speed limit saved many lives on the nation's highways, and since the limit was increased to 65 mph, traffic fatalities have increased, said T.C. Gilchrest, Chicago. He spoke during the annual Utah Safety Council meeting in the Red Lion Hotel.Gilchrest said the 65-mph speed limit on interstate highways in rural areas went into effect in many states in May 1987, and in the next five months traffic fatalities increased 23 percent over the same period in 1986. In Utah during that period, traffic fatalities increased 60 percent, he said.

In response to a question about a 65-mph speed limit being safe in the "wide open spaces of the West," Gilchrest said traffic fatalities in all of the states surrounding Utah, except Colorado, increased after the higher speed limit was adopted.

Gilchrest also talked about a new five-year National Safety Council Safe Kids Program designed to prevent accidents that claim the lives of 8,000 children annually. He said these accidents include automobile crashes, drowning and fires.

He said the national council has evolved from a safety-on-the-job organization to a health and safety organization dealing with all types of problems that occur 24 hours per day. It now is centering its efforts on AIDS education, hazard communication rules and highway speed.

During the awards portion of the program, Robert F. Parenti, Utah council director, honored Mountain Fuel Supply Co., Phillips Petroleum Co., Hercules Aerospace and Jack B. Parson Construction Co. for having three million hours of work without a lost-time injury or death.

Norman B. Maxfield, retired manager of safety for Utah Power & Light Co., and Lee F. Nix, director of fleet safety for Jack B. Kelley Co., were honored for individual achievement in safety.

Jack R. Woundenberg, a driver for ANR Freight Systems, received the long-haul safe driver award, and Howard A. Pierson of Transcon Lines, received an award for short-haul driving safety.

Rebecca A. Severson, a bus driver for Wasatch County School District, and Ramon Orgill, a bus driver for Granite School District, were named safe school bus drivers of the year.

Seven people were recognized for completing requirements for the national council's advanced safety certificate. They are Robert Allen, Delbert Buckley and Cornie Lanting of Amalgamated Sugar Co.; Joseph Bingham and Roy Passey of Utah Power & Light Co.; Randy L. Cooper, Utah Safety Council; and T.R. Lewis, Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.

Utah Public Safety Commissioner John T. Nielsen received an award on behalf of his organization for its contribution to community and civic safety programs.

G. Michael Stevenson, manager of employee relations for UP&L, was elected president during the meeting.

Other officers are A. H. Hanssen, manager of safety at Kennecott Utah Copper, president-elect; Steven W. Wait, superintendent of D&RGW Railroad, first vice president; Evan D. Ginn, manager of administration and personnel at Eastman Christensen, second vice president; and Linn C. Baker, retired, treasurer.