Ohio bill would raise speed limit to 70 mph

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/17/2012

Truckers and other drivers traveling Ohio’s interstates could soon travel the same speed as they do on the Ohio Turnpike and in neighboring states.

Rep. Ron Maag, R-Salem Township, introduced a bill that would increase the speed limit on the state’s interstates from 65 mph to 70 mph. Left-lane use would also be restricted on affected roadways.

Speeds were last altered on Ohio interstates in 2009. At that time, truck speeds were increased from 55 mph to 65 mph – the same speed as other vehicles.

A year ago, the Ohio Turnpike raised speeds for all vehicles from 65 mph to 70 mph. Turnpike officials credit the 5 mph increase for an improved safety record on the 241-mile roadway.

Critics question whether it’s a good idea to increase speeds on interstates to enable drivers to get to their destination earlier. They are also concerned that drivers will travel even faster.

Maag said the interstates are designed to handle vehicles traveling at 70 mph. He pointed out that neighboring Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia already use the 70 mph limit.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer noted that the Ohio bill would set the posted limit at the speed most vehicles already travel.

“The majority of travelers drive at a speed they believe to be prudent and safe. For truckers and other drivers, that equates to traveling at about 70 mph,” he said.

Another provision in the bill is a requirement for vehicles to stay to the right on interstates, except to pass a slower vehicle or to exit the freeway. Road users would also be allowed to merge left to make way for vehicles entering the roadway.

Vehicles in the left-hand lane would be required to “return to the right-hand lane or, if available, a center lane as soon as traffic and road conditions make it safe to do so,” Maag wrote in the bill.

Maag’s bill – HB395 – is awaiting assignment to committee.

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