Speed-limit increase hasn’t caused surge in tickets


GRANVILLE, Ohio — Ohio Highway Patrol troopers haven’t been writing as many tickets as they did when the speed limit was capped at 65 mph across Ohio.

The patrol wrote 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 during the last two years.

Compared with the five-year average from 2008 to 2012 during those months, though, troopers wrote about 500 more tickets this year.

Patrol officials say three months of data are too small a sample to draw conclusions, but advocates for speed increases are pointing to the numbers as proof that changes don’t turn highways into racetracks.

“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, patrol spokesman.

Troopers don’t just look at their radar to issue tickets, said Sgt. Mark Leach of the patrol’s Granville post in Licking County. They evaluate weather conditions, traffic density, and even the size of the road before they decide to flash their lights.

“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 spokesman with the Governors Highway Safety Association.

“Perhaps people are really taking it seriously.”

Lieutenant Ralston said that although it’s against the law to drive over the speed limit, highway patrol troopers strive to be consistent and fair to drivers.

A report released in January found that speed was the leading cause of fatal crashes in Ohio in 2011.