Life in the fast lane

Those traveling between Belpre and Marietta on Ohio 7 can now shave some travel time off their drive.

This year’s second round of speed limit increases in Ohio-the result of legislation passed earlier this year-went into effect Sunday on some rural divided highways, rural expressways, and rural freeways.

The four-lane portion of Ohio 7, which runs south from Marietta, saw a jump in speed from 55 mph to 60 mph. And while not all drivers who live or reside near the affected road have noticed the change, those who have seem to be enjoying the faster ride.

“For me, I like it because when I’m on the road I’m always in a hurry,” said Doug Lang, owner of Lang Outdoor Power Equipment just off Ohio 7.

While Lang does not see the change affecting business, several customers have mentioned they like the change, he said.

The change will affect business for area trucking companies, where time means money.

“We think it’s a good thing,” said Dennis Coe, Marietta terminal manager for R&J Trucking which is situated along the highway. “We’re federally mandated to only travel so many hours a day. If we go a little faster, we can travel a little further.”

The five miles per hour increase might not seem like a lot, but it is enough that people should adjust their driving habits accordingly, said Lt. Randy Stackpole of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

“People need to put more distance in between them and the car in front of them to account for the extra stopping distance,” noted Stackpole.

Also cars coming from one of the many intersecting roads need to be wary when crossing or merging onto Ohio 7, he said.

“People might not realize that other cars are closing in faster than they used to,” said Stackpole.

Veto Road resident Betty Born, 79, said she did not have any problem crossing the southbound lane of Ohio 7 when taking her dog to the veterinarian Tuesday morning.

“It’s not really harder (to cross Ohio 7). I think people were going that fast anyhow,” said Born.

On intersecting Bramblewood Heights Road, Colleen Reid said she and her husband had not noticed the posted change and do not anticipate it being a problem.

“I don’t think we’ll mind it. We don’t drive that much,” said Reid.

The newest changes follow a round of speed limit increases that went into effect July 1-raising Ohio’s longstanding 65 mph interstate speed limit to 70 mph.

Though it is too early to tell whether the change has contributed to any statistical differences involving accidents, drivers should always be wary, said Lt. Carlos Smith of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“We’re always going to aggressively enforce the speed limit and we ask drivers to obey the new posted speed limit,” said Smith.

Other nearby highways with speed increases as part of the Sept. 29 changes include portions of US 50 in Washington and Athens counties and US 33 in Meigs County.