Ohio turnpike commission extends discounts, raises truck speed limit

| Friday, February 24, 2006

It might be a few days late, but officials with the Ohio Turnpike have decided to give a great big Valentine to truckers traveling through the state.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, the Ohio Turnpike Commission voted to keep the speed limit for trucks at 65 mph – the same speed as four-wheeler traffic on most areas of the turnpike, and 10 mph faster than truck speeds on all other roads in the state – despite a report given by the Ohio Highway Patrol that found a correlation between higher truck speeds and an increase in truck crashes.

According to the patrol’s report, speed increases led to a 24-percent increase in total crashes, and a 40 percent increase in truck crashes. However, turnpike officials said the patrol’s report compared incomparable time periods to produce inflated statistics, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

The commission also voted to continue an 18-month pilot program in the state that reduces the toll rate for trucks. Originally, the program was scheduled to end in July; now, it will extend to the end of the year, according to the Plain Dealer.

The raised speed rule originally took effect Sept. 8, 2004. Another rule, which cut the turnpike’s share of diesel sales revenue to enable fuel stops along the route to offer diesel up to 11 cents a gallon cheaper than nearby stations, went into effect in September of the same year.

State lawmakers introduced the incentive program as a way to steer truck traffic back onto the toll road, after an 82 percent toll increase in 1999 drove truckers off onto overloaded two-lane roads.

“By moving trucks to the turnpike, we will reduce the truck traffic on these smaller routes, improve safety and shrink congestion levels that often gridlock many of our northern Ohio communities,” Gov. Bob Taft said in a written statement in 2004.

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