Study leads to speed limit increase on Pennsylvania Turnpike

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 3/17/2016

After a nearly two-year study showed “no relevant statistical increase in crashes,” the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission voted Tuesday, March 15, to increase most of the toll road’s speed limit from 65 mph to 70.

The change, which will also apply to commercial trucks, is expected to go into effect in the late spring, Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

In July 2014, a pilot study increased a 100-mile section of the turnpike in central Pennsylvania by 5 mph to 70.

“We’ve been collecting data on speeds and crashes for nearly two years,” DeFebo said. “Analyzing that data, what we’re seeing is no significant increase in speed and hardly any change at all in crash data.”

Actually, the first six months of the study revealed a decrease in crashes. After extending the study, there still wasn’t an increase in crashes with the increased speed limit.

DeFebo indicated that millions of dollars of improvements to the turnpike in the past 15 years that included a modern design and six-lane interstate have helped make it much more conducive to faster speeds.

Motorists should note that while the majority of the 450-mile turnpike will increase to 70 mph, areas currently marked at 55 mph — mainline toll plazas, tunnels and tunnel approaches — will remain at 55.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is conducting studies on parts of Interstate 80 and Interstate 380 to see if a similar increase in the speed limit is warranted.

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