When cruising down the highway, most people typically go within 5 miles of the speed limit – more or less – until you hit big city areas, such as Houston, Texas, where a speed limit sign means absolutely nothing. In areas like that, many people tend to just go with the flow of traffic, which sometimes might increase safety risks for people trying to obey the law.
Pennsylvania Speed Limits
Top speed limits along the interstates in Pennsylvania currently sit at 65 miles per hour. The Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have been conducting studies over the last year on a 97-mile stretch of the turnpike, attempting to figure out how big of an impact raising the Pennsylvania speed limit 5 miles per hour would have on the drivers and the area. PennDOT spokesperson, Rich Kirkpatrick, said they “picked these pilot areas after reviewing information, such as best practices, from other states and analyzing speed and traffic data.”
According to the data gathered, 85% of people were already driving around 70 MPH before the study began, and afterward, 85% began driving up to 75 MPH.
Safety on the Roads
Kirkpatrick warns that lower speeds don’t always equal greater safety for motorists. As previously mentioned, if you’re driving down the Houston highway at the posted speed limit while cars are zooming around you going 10-15 miles over the speed limit, you are potentially in just as much danger as if you were speeding. He explains, “An industry standard is to post speeds within 5 mph of what roughly 85 percent of the traffic is doing, or lower.” The higher-limit went into effect around the second week of August in 2014, on Interstate 80 – from Du Bois in Clearfield County to Clinton County – and a 21-mile section of I-380 in Monroe and Lackawanna counties. According to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, not everybody is on board with the raising of the Pennsylvania speed limit. Two safety advocates warn that while travelers might save a few minutes on the roadways, they might just pay for it in crashes and fatalities.
70 MPH Problems
The main worry of the department of transportation is that by increasing the Pennsylvania speed limit just 5 miles per hour, they are also increasing the speed limit for those that already speed over the legal limit. Jim Runk, president of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, told the Post-Gazette last year that he was concerned for the safety of commuters on the turnpike, and also mentioned the cost of fuel adding up, saying that while truckers might save a few minutes, they also would burn more diesel fuel which would add up considerably.
Although the rise in speed limit is still only a pilot test, many think that they can look forward to a more permanent increase in speed in the near future. There are already rumors of other speed limit increases throughout the area after this evaluation is complete.