When the Ohio Turnpike Commission voted to raise the speed limit on the toll road last year to 70 mph for all vehicles - commercial vehicles included - the change actually was pitched as a safety issue.
The idea was to encourage long-haul truck drivers to use the 241-mile turnpike instead of other highways and surface roads. Commission members reasoned the toll road - which has three lanes in each direction over most of its distance - was a better location for semi rigs than other state and U.S. routes.
Another logical choice would have been to keep the 65-mph speed limit and lower tolls to attract more truck traffic. But that would have generated less revenue.
Nonetheless, the Ohio Turnpike reported six traffic fatalities on the toll road last year, the fewest deaths for a full year in the road's history. There were seven fatalities on the toll road in 2010. Last year's tally matched the number when the turnpike opened in 1955, but was only partially open for nine months.
The lower total should not come as a surprise. According to the State Highway Patrol, fatalities on Ohio roadways have fallen for the past three years, dropping to the lowest total last year since record keeping began in 1936.
Perhaps that's due to improvements in vehicle safety. The patrol credits greater enforcement efforts on impaired drivers.
We also believe drivers played a role in the drop in fatalities. As turnpike patrol commander Capt. Chris Zurcher said, better safety depends on drivers who pay attention, avoid driving while fatigued and obey the speed limit - especially when driving on the toll road at 70 mph.