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Increase in speed limit may prove dangerous for drivers

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Thanks to new transportation legislation, Ohioans may soon be able to push their automobiles to speeds they never dreamt possible – 70 mph.

The measure, which will raise the speed limit from 65 mph to the more rounded 70, is just part of the transportation budget, which among other things aims to accommodate Governor John Kasich’s $1.5 billion Ohio Turnpike bond sale plan.

This slight boost of the speed limit is certainly nothing drastic, as it merely puts Ohio on par with the 34 other states that already post a 70 mph maximum. Furthermore, the law excludes urban beltways, which will remain 65 mph, and the limit on congested urban interstates will be set at 55 mph.

While it has been a highly requested change among many in the buckeye state, the speed limit increase is not without its objectors.

Many fear that a faster speed limit will lead to more accidents. This sentiment is something which research supports, and is the reasoning behind Anne McCartt’s opposition to a 70 mph maximum. As senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, McCartt feels there are obvious dangers of bumping up speed limits.

“When speed limits go up, people go faster, and eventually that results in more crashes and more deaths,” said McCartt. “We think there’s a pretty predictable safety trade-off.”

However, those who favor the increased speed seem to view it as only a slight change. They also point out that some roads in Ohio already have 70 mph maximums. Speaking to the media, Steve Faulkner, the press secretary for the Ohio Department of Transportation, played down the significance of the higher speed limit.

“It’s 5 mph higher,” said Faulkner. “Other states already have a 70 mph speed limit in certain areas. The Ohio Turnpike has a posted 70 mph.”

As insignificant as 5 mph may seem, handling an automobile safely at this higher speed can be more difficult than motorists may expect.

When the 70 mph limits were posted on the Ohio Turnpike, the number of accidents went from 184 a month to 214. Further research has also pointed out that an increased likelihood of fatal accidents occurs when speeds are bumped up.

The Transportation Research Board, which conducted the study, found that when speeds were increased from 55 to 65 mph, the chance of dying was increased by 24 percent, and when increased from 65 to 75, that probability was at 12 percent.

Despite this possible danger, most Ohio motorists may be confident enough in their abilities to compensate and to not mind the potential insurance rate increases for the sake of joining the list of states already in the fast lane.

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