Higher speed limit not causing issues

Almost a month into Ohio bumping up the speed limit to 70 mph in non-urban areas, officials with the Ohio State Highway Patrol said the change has not caused problems.

The change took effect July 1 on mainline interstate roads such as Interstate 70 and Interstate 75. That includes the stretch of I-70 that cuts through Clark County from Enon Road to Ohio 72.

The area sees an average of 55,400 vehicles daily, according to the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee. The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Springfield post reports they aren’t seeing a lot of speeders with the new limit.

Almost daily, motorists will see a trooper along the interstate with a radar gun, but that has more to do with routine traffic enforcement than higher speed limits. Lt. Matt Cleaveland said so far violations and traffic crashes are holding steady. However, he said that could change as more people become accustomed to the higher speed limits.

In Montgomery County, the majority of I-70 and I-75 were not impacted by the speed limit boost due to their proximity to urban areas. Near the Preble County border, the speed limit is 70 mph, but Lt. Mark Nichols said troopers aren’t seeing many violators.

“I think right now because the average driver is not used to being able to drive 70 mph, they’re hovering right around that 70 mph mark,” Nichols said.

However, overall vehicle fatalities are up in Montgomery County, at 31 deaths year to date compared to 23 during the same period last year. It’s unknown how many of those accidents involved speed, Nichols said, but he said there is a strong correlation between higher speeds and serious crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported speed is a contributing factor in 30 percent of fatal traffic crashes.

“Anytime you increase speed, whether that’s a posted speed limit or people just driving (faster), when a crash occurs the possibility of injury or damage obviously goes up as the speed goes up,” he said.

The highway patrol’s district headquarters in Columbus is expected to compile data on the impact of increased speed limits within the next few months.

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