The speed limits on even more Ohio roads could go up to 70 miles per hour this year.
The Ohio Senate Finance Committee has suggested raising the top speed limits on some state freeways “built to the standards and specifications of the interstate system” from 65 miles per hour to 70 mph, and from 55 mph to 60 mph for other state routes. The change was included as an amendment to the state budget proposed by committee members last week.
The speed limit hike would add to the 570 miles of Ohio rural interstates that will go from 65 mph to 70 mph under a new law passed earlier this year. That change will take effect next month.
The latest proposal does not yet specify which roads would be impacted. But Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said it would apply to rural state and U.S. routes with four lanes and divided highways.
Among the roads that could fit this criteria in the Miami Valley: U.S. 35, Ohio 4, U.S. 68 and U.S. 127.
Faber used U.S. 30, which runs across northern Ohio through Lima and Canton, as one of the “prime examples” of roads that would be impacted, and said state senators had always intended for U.S. and state routes to be included in the speed limit hike.
“If you can tell me what the difference is between U.S. 30 running across the state and (Interstate 75) running across the state… It’s arguably better to drive 70 on U.S. 30 because it’s less congested,” Faber said.
“If it’s limited access and safe to do, then we want the speed limit raised,” said Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester Twp., vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
The Ohio Insurance Institute opposes the last speed limit hike, and it opposes this one too, said President Dan Kelso.
Kelso said increasing speeds on state routes poses even more risk than on interstates because some state routes have cross traffic.
“The less safe the structure of the road is, if you increase the speed, you’re going to have as a practical matter more accidents. And because people are traveling faster, they tend to be more severe accidents,” Kelso said.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol wasn’t involved in developing the Senate’s proposal and is still reviewing it, said spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston.
While he didn’t know which roads the Senate has in mind, Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Faulkner said ODOT designates some state routes as “interstate look-alikes,” which means the road has entrance and exit ramps without “definite stopping” intersections with stop signs or stoplights.
When asked if ODOT has concerns about the proposed speed limit hike, Faulkner said: “We’re talking to the legislature to see what kinds of provisions would be the most appropriate to keep the motoring public of Ohio the safest.”
The speed limit amendment within the state budget is among dozens the Senate Finance Committee proposed last week.
Also tucked into the senate finance budget is another amendment that will be of interest to drivers: a proposed 2 percent hike to the state portion of annual vehicle registration fees. Most noncommercial drivers would as a result pay another 62 cents, bringing the total cost to $35.12.
The Legislative Service Commission, the nonpartisan research arm of the state legislature, has not yet calculated how much money the fee hike would raise. The new revenues would to go to local BMV deputy registrars, said agency spokeswoman Lindsey Bohrer.
The final list of budget amendments is scheduled to be unveiled this afternoon, with a finance committee vote held on Wednesday and a vote from the full state senate on Thursday.
MORE INFORMATION ON SPEED LIMITS
We asked readers on our Facebook page what they think of plans to raise Ohio's speed limit to 70 on some U.S. and state routes. Here's some of the responses:
Jennifer Ireland Slone: After driving back from Washington Court House last evening and seeing cars/trucks whiz past my little Altima going 80-90mph, I don't want the faster limits.
Brett Kottmann: I love it but there should not be any "short strips" where the limit changes every 2 miles. That's just a speed trap.
Michael Owings: As vehicles get better, it makes sense that speed limits should rise.
Vicky Williams: They drive 15 mph over already. This will make 85 ok. Trucks need to b 55 always!
Brad Clark: They are just acknowledging what people are already doing, so I have no issue with it.
Ann Johnson: No one is talking about the fact that a higher rate of speed decreasing your fuel economy. People must have money to burn.
What could change
Proposed changes by the Ohio Senate to non-interstate highways that are built to interstate standards and specifications:
- Increase the speed from 65 mph to 70 mph for vehicles weighing 8,000 pounds and less and commercial buses.
- Increase the speed limit from 55 mph to 70 mph for vehicles weighing more than 8,000 pounds when empty and noncommercial buses.
- Increase the speed limit for all vehicles on roads built to interstate standards and specifications with current speed limits of 55 mph to 60 mph for all vehicles.
Source: Ohio Legislative Service Commission
Timeline of Ohio’s speed limit laws
1908: First speed limit of 20 mph outside municipalities established.
1941: Increased to 50 mph
1958: Increased to 60 mph daytime, 50 mph at night.
1963: Increased to 70 mph for cars, 55 mph for trucks and tractors on interstates
1974: 55 mph for all vehicles on interstates
1987: 65 mph for cars on 900 miles of rural interstates
2004: Ohio Turnpike speed limit increased from 55 mph to 65 mph
2010: Turnpike speed limit increased to 70 mph
2013: Speed limit increased on most rural highways to 70 mph effective July 1.
source: Ohio Insurance Institute, Ohio Historical Society