Ohio sees more driving at excessive speeds

Published 9:58 am Monday, February 15, 2016

CLEVELAND (AP) — Each year, about 1,000 people are nabbed by Ohio state troopers speeding 100 mph or more and that number has been rising, according to an analysis of State Highway Patrol tickets.

Troopers caught more than 5,300 drivers who hit those speeds from 2010 to 2014, according to an analysis of Ohio State Highway Patrol tickets by The Plain Dealer. Statistics weren’t available for 2015.

The analysis highlights a spike in drivers speeding over 100 mph since 2011. Following a slight drop in 2010, the subset of drivers stopped for speeding 100 mph or more has climbed 23 percent, from about 940 in 2011 to 1,160 in 2014.

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In one 2013 case, a Kent man drove nearly 150 mph on the Ohio Turnpike before he hit a minivan, killing an elderly couple.

Ric Oxender, a lobbyist with the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs, advocates stiffer fines, a license suspension and even jail time for drivers caught driving 100 mph or more.

“I won’t jump up and down when someone is driving 75 on the turnpike,” Oxender said. “But at 100 mph, that’s a guided missile.”

Highway safety advocates are questioning what has caused so many people to drive faster than ever. Some have said that increased speed limits gave aggressive drivers the green light to speed even faster than normal.

Troopers wrote about 509,000 tickets in 2011, and two years later — after a speed limit increase on interstate highways went into place — they wrote nearly 600,000 tickets, according to the analysis.

Some drivers blame cars that ride so smooth they say they can’t tell they’re speeding, while others say they want to know how fast their cars can go when pushed to the limit.

“There is no need for anyone to drive more than 100 mph, unless in an emergency,” said Kara Macek, of the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The issue of speeding has gained attention throughout the state as the number of people killed in traffic crashes has ticked up. Last year, 1,094 people died in Ohio crashes — a 9 percent increase over the 1,008 fatalities in 2014. High speed is involved in about a third of the state’s traffic deaths, according to authorities.

“You are talking about really scary driving,” said Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virgnia. “All of the modern safety equipment built in vehicles is all for naught at those speeds.”