Motorists will be able to drive a little faster on many Ohio highways starting today.
The speed limit will climb from 65 mph to 70 mph on portions of six interstates.
Ohio lawmakers earlier had approved raising the limit in non-urban areas, with the change taking effect July 1.
The Ohio Department of Transportation will put up 317 new signs this morning along 570 miles of highway alerting drivers to the change.
The following sections will allow 70 mph travel:
• Interstate 76: From outside Akron going east to the west of Youngstown.
• Interstate 77: From outside of Canton south to the West Virginia border.
• Interstate 71: From the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge in southwest Ohio to south of the Cuyahoga-Medina county border, excluding the Columbus area.
• Interstate 70: From the Indiana border to outside Wheeling, W.Va., excluding the Dayton, Columbus and Zanesville areas.
• Interstate 75: From outside of Toledo heading south to north of Dayton, excluding the Findlay and Lima areas.
• Interstate 90: From outside of Cleveland east to the Pennsylvania border.
Nationwide, 35 states now have a speed limit of 70 mph or higher.
Zachariah D. Lowe, 20, a student at the University of Akron, said he’s looking forward to the change, noting that surrounding states already have 70 mph limits.
The new limit also will allow him to get between Akron and his hometown of Cortland a little quicker. He’s not concerned about highways being any more dangerous.
“People will be stupid drivers no matter what the speed limit,” Lowe said.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute in Arlington, Va., says studies have shown that traffic crashes and fatalities increase when the speed limit goes up.
“There always is a trade-off,” said Russ Rader, a senior vice president with the group. “It’s popular to raise speed limits. It gets people to their destinations faster but it doesn’t come without a cost. There will be more crashes and more deaths as a result of raising speed limits.”
He also noted that motorists typically drive 5 to 10 mph over the posted speed limit anyway so people will be driving even faster than 70 mph.
“Instead of raising speed limits, what states should be doing is vigorously enforcing the speed limits they have because speed is a major safety problem on the roads,” Rader said. “One-third of all fatal crashes involve speeding. If we could control speeding, we could have a significant impact on the death toll on the road.”
The 70 mph limit isn’t new to Ohio. Motorists have been permitted to drive 70 mph on all 241 miles of the Ohio Turnpike since April 2011.
“That change has not resulted in any significant changes in accidents or fatalities on our road,” turnpike spokeswoman Lauren Hakos said. “That’s certainly a positive.”
There were nine fatalities on the turnpike in 2009, seven in 2010, six in 2011 and seven last year.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.