Bill to increase Ohio speed limits passes state panel

A bill that would raise speed limits on Ohio Interstate highways to 70 mph passed a state House committee last Wednesday with bipartisan support. The increased speed limit would apply to both cars and trucks. The Ohio Turnpike, which is run independently, raised its speed limit to 70 mph in April.

A provision in the bill that would have limited the use of the left lanes to drivers exiting or passing slower vehicles was stripped from the bill before passage because the State Highway Patrol expressed concern about enforcement, according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch.

Thirty-five states — including West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky, which border Ohio — all have speed limits at or exceeding 70 mph on some segments of their highways.

“For people driving through Ohio, I think it’s an unfair burden for them to have to drop their speed and then go to another state, and it goes back up,” said Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Hamilton, chairman of the House committee that introduced the bill.

A recent poll showed 66% of Ohioans support a speed limit of 70 mph or higher, Combs said. “I expect that when it goes to the full House, it will pass,” he said.

The Ohio Trucking Assn. has opposed the bill, citing concerns such as safety and fuel consumption. However, statistics from the Ohio turnpike and other states don’t show a noticeable change in accidents and injuries when speed limits increase, Combs said.

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