Drivers Split On Higher Speed Limits

You might be able to get where you are going a little faster in parts of northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

Speed limits have gone up from 65 to 70 miles per hour on parts of Interstates 380 and 80.

We watched PennDOT workers post some of those new 70 miles per hour speed limit signs in the Poconos and in parts of Lackawanna County.

But raising the speed limit has plenty of drivers raising concerns.

PennDOT crews were busy posting new 70 miles per hour speed limit signs on this 16-mile stretch of 380 between the Interstate 84 split and Tobyhanna exit.New_Interstate380_Speed_Map1

PennDOT also increased the speeds along Interstate 80 between the DuBois and the Loganton exits.

New_Interstate_80_Speed_Map1

“Most people, they’re up in the 70s all the time over there.”

Wyatt Thompson was gassing up just off I-380 and fears what speeds drivers might attempt now.

“I don’t know, 90, 85, it’s going to be. I don’t know, you got to be careful out there, you got to really watch it, because at that speed your reaction time is less.”

William Meyers of Blakeslee is driving a big rig along I-380 on his way to Ohio and says the increase is helpful, even when his truck is governed to travel no faster than 67 miles per hour.

“It definitely helps, makes up time, especially when you go through a lot of 55 mile an hour zones, or we travel on a lot of highways with a lot of uphills and we have a heavy load, that loses time.”

The 70 miles per hour stretch ends near Tobyhanna where crews posted a new 65 miles per hour speed limit sign.

Orginally PennDOT announced it would be 70 miles per hour up to the Mount Pocono exit but later decided to cut the high speed area back to Tobyhanna because of increased development near Mount Pocono,   including Kalahari Resorts, and the traffic it may bring.

Some drivers hopping on Interstate 380 in the Poconos say they had no idea about the speed limit change and that they could now drive legally at 70 miles per hour.

“I had no idea, no. When did that happen?”

Karolina Davis of Saylorsburg says she rarely drives with her toddler on the highways, but believes speeding up might just make this stretch of road safer.

“It could be safer versus having to slow down constantly, speed up and keep up with all of the signs,” Davis said.

PennDOT says all of the speed limit signs will be changed by the end of the day.

PennDOT says they will keep a close eye on these pilot 70 miles per hour stretches of roadway and may make more areas 70 miles per hour in the future.

State police are planning to have extra patrols out to enforce the speed limit.

8 comments

  • Jonathan Walker

    I don’t think I’ve ever driven under 70mph on I-380… I generally stick to the 5-over mentality anyway. The idea that raising speed limits will increase deaths or whatnot is just crazy. Speed doesn’t kill. Bad driving, distracted driving, that’s what kills. I’ve had jobs that required driving since I was 18 – I am 33 now. I started in Massachusetts and now I’m down here. The only accidents I’ve ever been in were of no fault of mine – One was a 16 year old blowing a stop sign in MA, and my GOOD DRIVING (i.e. I proceeded slowly into the intersection) saved me from serious injury. The only other accident I was ever in was when my car slid down a snowy/icy hill here in PA – I was doing 10mph in first gear. Hit a telephone pole and broke my headlight. No other damage, no injury.

    So you want to tell me that just raising a number on a sign is going to lead to more death? I say that people are going to speed anyway, no matter what that sign says. They already push 90mph, so you think they’re going to go a little faster now that a sign says 70 instead of 65? They’re already breaking the law and have no regard for it, so how is it going to make a difference?

    Texting while driving, or distracted driving in general, is the worst. Not the speed limit on the sign. I see so many people on their phones – texting or talking – who are completely oblivious to the world around them and the other cars. These people, some of them not even doing the formerly posted 65mph speed limit, often change lanes without checking their blind spots or cross multiple lanes to get an exit they’re about to miss because they were too busy chatting it up to notice where they were. THAT can kill.

    There’s also a horrible problem with drivers trying to enforce the speed limit themselves. The rule of the road is that slower traffic – regardless of the posted speed limit – should yield to the right. In fact, the left lane is generally considered a “passing” lane. Yet you guys want to do your part to make the roadway unsafe by getting in the left lane and sitting at the speed limit or lower, or you match speeds with that rig that’s trying to climb a hill – and he or she probably wishes you wouldn’t hang out in HIS blind spot, but that doesn’t matter to you at all. Not yielding to faster-moving traffic can cause sudden slow downs behind you, which can lead to accidents. Road rage is also an issue, and while you may think “It’s not my problem if Mr. New Jersey wants to go 90mph”, it sort of is your problem if you provoke him into doing something more stupid than before. Why push it? Why bother? Let him pass, and stay safe. Chances are he’ll get into open road, take a phone call, and get himself killed without hurting anyone else. ;)

  • Fred

    I leave early for work. My wife and I enjoy a nice drive in the country. If anyone wants to pass us, have a ball. I will probably never drive 70mph. Life is to short. Why make it shorter. Ever see a deer get hit at 70 MPH. I hit one at 55 MPH . $5,500 damage. Just because the sign says 70 you do not have to go 70 !

    • jcwconsult

      Absolutely true, Fred.
      If you want to drive below 70 on a road posted at 70, you are completely free to do so. On multiple lane roads, slower traffic should keep to the right – regardless of the posted limit. Good lane courtesy is one key “secret” to the safety of the German Autobahns where you find heavy trucks at about 60 mph mixed with super cars at 150+ mph.
      James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association

  • James C. Walker

    Several points:
    1) Changing the numbers on the signs has almost no effect on the actual travel speeds.
    2) Claiming that higher 70 limits will lead to actual speeds of 85/90 is nonsense. Drivers drive the speeds they find to be safe and comfortable and which ARE safe and comfortable in almost every case. Normal speeds on Texas Highway 130 which is posted at 85 mph are below 87 mph. Realistic limits get compliance, unrealistic ones don’t.
    3) If safety is the goal for the posted limits (rare in Pennsylvania), the limits are set at the ACTUAL speeds at or below which you find 85% of the drivers – rounded to the nearest 5 mph interval. If 85% of the vehicles are at or below 63 to 67 mph, you post 65. If at or below 68 to 72 mph, you post 70. If at or below 73 to 77 mph, you post 75. And if at or below 78 to 82 mph, you post 80. These examples would cover virtually all rural Interstates and the Turnpike in PA, except for very close to the tunnels and the Water Gap on I-80.
    4) Posted at the 85th percentile speeds per item 3), safety would improve measurably statewide.
    5) The opinions of non-engineers in the public and the legislative bodies should have ZERO influence on the posted speed limits, only proven traffic safety engineering methods have validity from a safety viewpoint.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association

  • Wayne W Varner

    I think the increased speed limit is stupid. A lot of the “drivers” on the interstate don’t have the appropriate driving skills to do 35 MPH now. This is simply going to result in more tragic accidents. A 70 MPH limit will mean that drivers are going to run at 85-90 MPH, when they are woefully inept at driving at those speeds. A cell phone firmly planted in their ear, or worse yet, texting at those speeds
    And don’t kid yourself, those morons will be more than happy to blast down the interstate at those speeds, putting rational drivers at risk. Maybe the gene pool will prove itself to be self-cleansing. And hopefully, innocent drivers will escape unscathed.

  • mike

    Speed kills. The increased speeds will only contribute to more deaths. The State Police do a poor job of speed enforcement.

  • LinuxGuy

    The proper way to set speed limits is to the 85th percentile free-flowing traffic speed, which PennDot refuses to do. The 70 zones are a help, but not quite right. Almost ALL roads are underposted. It would be nice to see more balanced coverage, where reporters look into issues, rather than just do stories with no research. The one person interviewed was obviously uninformed about traffic safety. You can check out the National Motorists Association for good driving info.

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