ODOT wants permission to adjust speed limits depending on weather, traffic

Posted at 10:12 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-23 15:19:41-05

The Ohio Department of Transportation wants lawmakers’ permission to lift a restriction on the number of variable speed limit areas in the state, and replace the familiar aluminum road signs with the digital kind most often seen at construction sites.

The trade-off would allow the department to lower speed limits at any time in response to changes in weather, traffic and construction, then raise them to a normal level once circumstances change. Current law only allows speed limits to be temporarily lowered in school and work zones.

"What we're talking about is applying it where we have construction projects and we have also known safety issues such as white-outs or other issues impacting traffic, impacting safety of our traveling motorists," ODOT director Jack Marchbanks told the Dayton Daily News.

According to ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning, implementing variable speed limits on Interstate 90 in Lake County reduced crashes by over 50 percent. He said the span has seen no fatal crashes and only one serious injury since the change in 2017.

Although the adjustments could theoretically go up or down, Marchbanks isn’t interested in raising any speed limits above current levels.

“People are driving too fast already,” he said.