Cars speed ahead on I-70 East in Columbus, Ohio. In 2013, some stretches of highway in Ohio saw a speed limit increase from 65 to 70 mph, now correlated with higher crash rates.

Ohio departments alter highway speed limits after an uptick in traffic accidents

by Sophie Yang, ’19

report released by the Ohio Departments of Public Safety and Transportation on Nov. 16 revealed crashes have increased 24 percent on highways where the speed limit was raised to 70 miles per hour in 2013.

As a result, Ohio’s State Highway Patrol is targeting speeding on three stretches of highway in Licking, Ashland and Union County. A $100,000 ad campaign is also in the works, promoting messages like “Stop Speeding Before it Stops You” and “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.” In six months, the state will re-measure data on crashes and examine whether safety has increased.

Notably, the Department of Transportation indicates that speed limits are set not to slow traffic, but to standardize it.

“When the speed limit is set at a level that drivers consider reasonable, the speed of vehicles is more uniform. It is considered safer to have all the vehicles traveling at [about] the same speed,” its website reads.

Junior Nathan Swords, who received his license this August, concurs with the website’s statement.

“People are always going to speed regardless of what the speed limit is,” Swords said. “I don’t think increasing the speed limit by 5 miles per hour is causing the accidents. Maybe they can investigate some other reasons [like] drunk driving.”

The State Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation noted that the speed limit may be temporarily decreased to 65 miles per hour.