January 31st, 2012|
A 34-year-old Lorain father of four (4) died on the Ohio Turnpike when his vehicle “lost control,” hit a guardrail, and then collided with a semi-truck. Unsafe speed – defined as driving too fast for road and traffic conditions – is usually the reason for a driver losing control of a vehicle.
Last April, the Ohio Turnpike Commission increased its speed limit to 70 miles per hour. The Ohio Trucking Association, along with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol, opposed the increase. The Ohio Trucking Association’s President Larry Davis indicated that cars going faster result in more weaving in-and-out of traffic, making the roads less safe. According to Mr. Davis and members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, greater speed results in more injuries and fatalities.
Ohio lawmaker, State Representative Ron Maag, wants to increase speed limits from 65 mph to 70 mph for all of Ohio’s interstate freeways. Yet, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety crash statistics, unsafe speed and failure to control are the two primary contributing circumstances for traffic fatalities.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data shows that Ohio’s roadway fatalities increased from 1,022 fatalities in 2009 to 1,080 fatalities in 2010, a 5.4% increase. While official data has not yet been compiled for 2011, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that traffic fatalities for 2011 are likely to be in line with 2009’s statistics. A steady annual decline in traffic fatalities should be a prerequisite before lawmakers decide to increase highway speeds.
Ohio should not celebrate the idea of increasing interstate speed limits. We should pause to educate our lawmakers, our loved ones, and ourselves about the benefits of slowing down and planning ahead to allow for more realistic travel times. Driving habits should not change if you are driving alone versus driving with family members in your vehicle. Driving faster than road conditions allow may result in your own fatality or injuries to other motorists, and is certain to cause emotional harm to those you leave behind. We all need to be reminded to take it slow. Let’s not wait to be reminded by another death on our roadways.