Troopers have written fewer tickets on some stretches of Ohio highways where the speed limit was bumped to 70 mph earlier this year, according to State Highway Patrol numbers reported by a newspaper.
The patrol says it issued about 19,000 speeding tickets in July, August and September on the 12 sections of rural interstate where the speed limit was increased on July 1. That’s fewer than troopers wrote during the same period in the past two years, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
However, compared with the five-year average from 2008 to 2012 during those months, troopers wrote about 500 more tickets this year.
Officials say three months of data are too small a sample to draw any hard conclusions, but advocates for higher speed limits point to it as evidence that the change doesn’t mean more people will be speeding.
“To look at anything in an in-depth manner and draw any conclusions about it, (we) normally want two years of data,” said Lt. Anne Ralston, the patrol spokeswoman.
Nearly one-third of the citations issued in July, August and September this year were on the section of Interstate 71 between Delaware and Medina counties. That 96-mile section is one of the two largest in the state to have the speed limit increased.
The National Motorists Association supports higher speed limits because drivers tend to travel at speeds at which they feel safe, which increases average speeds in areas where the limit is too low. The association said it expects citations to drop when speed limits increase because many drivers already travel at the higher speed.
“People tend to think there’s a cushion – that 5 to 10 (mph) cushion – so we’re always wary of increasing speed limits because we’re worried people will increase their expected cushion,” said Kara Macek, a spokeswoman with the Governors Highway Safety Association. “Perhaps people are really taking it seriously.”
A report released in January found that speed was the leading cause of fatal crashes in Ohio in 2011.
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