A police officer is using a handheld RADAR gun to target a vehicle coming off a bridge. Getty Images.
The following article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
Ohio lawmakers may increase the speed limit from 55 to 60 mph on all state routes and county roads, but two-lane roads could potentially get up to 65 mph.
Unless stated otherwise, highways in the state have a speed limit of 55 mph. Robert Dennison thinks most people see that as a suggestion.
“Most people are going those high speeds anyway,” Dennison said.
Ohio lawmakers have proposed raising the speed limit from 55 to 60 mph for all highways outside of a municipal corporation, which would be county roads and state routes. This applies to each qualifying road that doesn’t already have a different statutory limit.
The bill also gives authority to ODOT to raise the speed on two-lane state routes to 65 following an engineering study.
“It will reduce the number of tickets, but insurance rates are going to go up,” Dennison said.
Since people are already going five to ten miles per hour over the speed limit already, getting an additional five is going to increase all speeds, he added.
Is a 5 mph increase a big deal? AAA says yes
A 2021 study by AAA found that even an additional five miles per hour has a dramatic increase in the risk of severe injury or death, going from a 60% risk at 50 mph to 80% at 55 mph.
Pro Driving School’s training manager Mary Kaye Speckhart believes this will increase.
“You have to pay attention the faster you go,” she said. “Speed kills. Most crashes happen because of being too close… [people] have to increase their following distance.”
OCJ/WEWS reached out to AAA to see if they had studied the impact of 60 mph, but it didn’t. However, Legislative Affairs Director at AAA East Central Theresa Podguski confirmed Speckhart’s concern.
“We know that higher speed limits cancel out the benefits of vehicle safety improvements,” Podguski said. “We can’t stress enough how big of an impact speed plays in a crash.”
The faster a driver is going before a crash, the less likely it is that they’ll be able to get down to a survivable speed, even if they have a chance to break before impact, she added.
Good and bad
The legislation has good qualities, Dennison said, understanding that raising the speed limit will get people to their destinations faster.
“It may get you there a second faster than somebody else, but sometimes is it really worth that second?” Speckhart asked. “A life is worth more than getting somewhere faster.”
The Senate transportation team told OCJ/WEWS that townships and counties will have the ability to lower the speed limit.
With all of these changes, Speckhart wondered who is going to pay for the brand-new street signs all over the state.
The Ohio Department of Transportation could incur additional costs for replacing/updating signs on applicable highways, the Legislative Service Commission said.
ODOT’s primary funding sources are federal and state gas taxes — so it’s likely drivers will be paying for the signs.
The bill will continue to be heard next week.
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