LIMA — Tony Smith said he thinks increasing the speed limit on Interstate 75 to 70 mph is a good thing, but he also makes a prediction.
“I bet the Ohio State Highway Patrol will be very strict on the 70,” he wrote on The Lima News Facebook page.
Local highway patrol officials would say Smith is right on.
“We will be out this week just to show our force, just having people more visible on the interstate so they can see us,” said Lt. Brant Zemelka, of the Lima post.
Beginning Monday, the speed limit moved from 65 to 70 mph on portions of six non-urban interstates around the state. Included is I-75 from outside of Toledo heading south to north of Dayton. It excludes the Findlay and Lima areas.
Drivers will have to maintain the current speed limit through Lima until they travel north of the Bluelick Road exit or south of the Fourth Street exit. There is no provision for a lower speed limit for large trucks or private buses.
Ohio Department of Transportation crews put up 317 new signs along 570 miles of highway around the state. Drivers spent the morning Monday still seeing the old signs in the region, but by mid-afternoon they were going up.
Thirty-five states have speed limits of 70 mph or higher. The new change isn’t the first in Ohio. The Ohio Turnpike began permitting drivers to go 70 mph in April 2011. Local drivers have wondered when it would go beyond the turnpike.
“About time Ohio catches up,” Michael Jordan said on Facebook.
As soon as all signs are up, state troopers will be on the lookout for speeders. Zemelka said the state patrol will take enforcement seriously.
“There is no grace period on this one,” he said.
How fast is too fast and will land a driver with a ticket depends on the individual trooper, Zemelka said.
“It is up to the officer’s discretion of what he wants to stop a vehicle for,” he said.
The biggest concern with the change is crashes from people driving too close to the vehicle in front, said Sgt. Kristina Bennett, of the Wapakoneta post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. She reminds drivers to increase their following distance.
“A lot of crashes on the interstate occur because people are following too close,” she said. “And now with an extra five miles an hour, this is going to be another few feet of stopping distance, so they will need to increase their following distance a little bit.”
The change comes during the week of the July 4th holiday; a time many people hit the roadways. Zemelka and Bennett both said there will be extra troopers out during the holiday.
A few readers said the change didn’t really matter much, including some who say they still try to use “back roads” as much as possible.
“The scenery is better and life is slower on the back roads, just the way it should be,” Missi Miller said.
“What is five mph faster going to do,” Craig Moore asked. “Get you there two or three minutes earlier.”
70 mph speed limit