Katherine Wilk
kwilk@radford.edu

As students look ahead to next year they may be able to make it down Interstate 81 a little quicker. The speed limit on roads such as I-81 currently top off around 65 miles per hour, while most drivers go a little faster than that.

Governor Bob McDonnell pushed to make those speeds a little higher and the General Assembly agreed. It’s proposed for Interstate roads in Virginia to change to 70 MPH in some spots.

“If they enforce it I don’t think it will affect it at all,” Delaware resident Harvey Eckell said. “If they up the enforcement another five miles an hour or so they don’t stop you until you go 80 or 85 then it could be a problem. But, if everybody sticks to the speed limit I think we’ll all be fine.”

The changes will take effect on the first of July.

Overall, motorists have encouraged the change stating that safety isn’t an issue and they will be able to get to their destination quicker.

“I like it,” said Rhonda Kohls, an Alabama resident. “I drive 75 anyway… Please don’t get out there and do 45 on the Interstate. Stay on the two lane roads—That’s where you do 45.”

Critics of the change say drivers will end up wasting gas and causing more accidents.

“It’s going to consume a little bit more gas,” MSgt. George Slate said. “[It’s] going to have to consume more fuel now than ever anyway. And speed kills; the faster you go the higher the fatality rate.”

Drivers disagree, insisting that safety isn’t an issue with the change.

“I can’t imagine that being in an accident going 70 miles per hour versus going 60 miles per hour would be any more or less,” said critical care nurse Carla Coffey. “I think any time you’re in an accident, whether it’s 60 or 70 your injuries are going to be comparable.”

Sergeant Robert Carpentieri for the Virginia State Police encourages drivers to stay alert no matter the speed.

“Regardless of the speed limits we are going to be out there enforcing it strictly,” Carpentieri said. “Our job is to make the roads safer and we’ll be out there regardless of what the speed limit is.”

Carpentieri warns drivers that this is a process and can take some time to go into effect.

“Even though, if this goes into affect July 1, it doesn’t necessarily mean the speed limits going to change on the Interstate on that date,” Carpentieri said. “That’s going to be up to the department of transportation.”

Virginia State Police urges drivers to pay attention to the signs and be aware of the upcoming change.

With the support of drivers the change is anticipated and can help them decrease their time on the roads.

[This story was published in the April 21, 2010 issue of The Tartan. It was published online April 19.]

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