Increased Speed Limit Coming to Pennsylvania Turnpike This Spring

March 30th, 2016

Turnpike Commission will increase the limit in 65-mph zones to 70 mph

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission voted recently to increase the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on most of the Turnpike.

The upcoming increase, which will take effect at some point this spring, follows an 18-month study on a 100-mile stretch of the Turnpike between Morgantown and Blue Mountain. According to the Turnpike Commission, the increase from 65 to 70 mph in the test area did not result in a significant increase in the actual speed of vehicles on the highway. Rather, the new speed limit matched the speed at which motorists were already driving.

As speeding is a significant contributing factor in accidents, we hope drivers will respect the new posted limits.  Our concern as accident attorneys is that some drivers might see the increase to 70 mph as a free pass to go even faster.

The increase to 70 mph only affects areas of the Turnpike that presently have a 65 mph speed limit. Areas that have a 55 mph posted speed limit – such as tunnels, certain toll areas and construction zones – will remain at 55 mph.

While the Turnpike will be the first road in Pennsylvania to have a 70 mph speed limit, it may not be the last. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is conducting similar studies on parts of Interstates 80 and 380.

Safety concerns motivate increase in speed limit

According to the Turnpike Commission, which voted on the measure March 15, the goal of the increased speed limit is to close the gap between faster and slower vehicles. Having motorists traveling at different speeds on the same road leads to an increased risk of accidents, such as rear-end collisions. The new speed limit should help to decrease deadly high-speed accidents by keeping the flow of traffic at a consistent speed.

Because the Turnpike is part of the interstate highway system, it is often used by out-of-state drivers passing through Pennsylvania. Several neighboring states already have 70 mph speed limits, and this change will create continuity for drivers coming from those states, including commercial truckers. Again, that should help keep all traffic on the highway moving at a consistent speed and keep the Turnpike safer for every motorist.

The danger of an increased speed limit is that some drivers will think they have “wiggle room” to drive even faster. At very high speeds, drivers have less time to react to obstacles and avoid collisions, and with the additional force involved, each car accident becomes more dangerous.

However, the results of the Turnpike Commission’s pilot program indicate that the increased speed limit shouldn’t result in motorists’ driving faster. The onus is now on motorists to respect the new speed limit and drive in a way that does not put others at risk.

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